speak-asia-online-logoEver since the Solomon James writ 383 petition was filed late last year, Speak Asia, AISPA and senior panelists have harped on and on about how this one case was supposed to decide everything.

“Don’t worry about anything else, just follow the Supreme Court and they’ll sort everything out” was pretty much the line towed by those running things. Instilled with the confidence that the highest court in India was indeed handling all matters Speak Asia, the company’s panelists all too eagerly swallowed the company line and rallied against critics, the media and the various authorities investigating Speak Asia.

Seemingly out of the blue however, around a fortnight ago Speak Asia’s defacto management team in India, AISPA, started to publicly put forth a new direction. After nearly a year of proclaiming that the Supreme Court would fix everything and ensure Speak Asia a business restart, all of a sudden AISPA were now telling panelists to pretty much ignore all court cases.

Something didn’t add up, and yesterday why the sudden shift in company management policy regarding the subduing of panelists was finally made clear.

On the 21st of March 2012, AISPA told the Mumbai High Court that

the Apex Court has appointed a mediator and the mediator (has) seized the entire case.

This was infact something AISPA had been claiming for a while now and formed one of the cornerstone arguments of both AISPA and Speak Asia’s coordinated launching of court cases to have criminal investigations into Speak Asia quashed.

Giving AISPA the benefit of the doubt and not wanting to possibly rule over the Supreme Court (or interfere with the Supreme Court case if it was indeed dealing with criminal investigations into Speak Asia), the Mumbai High Court ordered a stay on the EOW’s investigation and asked that they “obtain clarification” from the Supreme Court regarding the writ 383 petition and criminal investigations.

In yesterday’s hearing of the writ 383 petition that clarification was made crystal clear with the Supreme Court clarifying once and for all

that (the) pendency of this matter (writ 383) either before the Mediator or before this Court will not hamper with the investigation.

In one statement, any notion that the Supreme Court writ 383 case had anything at all to do with any of the criminal investigations currently open against Speak Asia was shattered.

Naturally in light of this, the pertinent question then is “so what matter is the Supreme Court handling in the writ 383 case”?

To date the only matter discussed publicly in any order of the Supreme Court issued in regards to the writ 383 case has been the payment of owed money to the signed 115 petitioners on the writ itself.

To this end, Speak Asia has deposited 50 crore rupees and (misguidedly) hoped that this small token payment would settle all matters and dispose of the case (along with all other cases and investigations currently open that Speak Asia are involved in).

As per what information has been made public in the Supreme Court orders, while there has been some talk of tax liabilities but it’s unclear as to the status of such matter(s).

In any case, in yesterday’s Supreme Court order also ordered the listing of

all applications along with the main matter on 8th August, 2012 for final disposal.

The order is unclear in regards to the specifics of the applications it is referring to, but the fact that they have slated the case for final disposal come August means it is unlikely that any new matters are going to be taken up.

Thus as far as is publicly known, the scope of the writ 383 case is limited solely to addressing the owed payments to the 115 petitioners and possibly some tax liabilities.

There has been no talk of exit options, business restarts or anything else. Unofficial AISPA spokesperson Anjali has repeatedly made mention of an intervention application AISPA was planning to file (aispa has made an intervention application and is standing by for the right time to enter the process‘), but the likelihood any such application would be heard let alone accepted with the case slated for final disposal in the next hearing seems nonexistent now.

Although not clarified by AISPA or Anjali directly, it is believed their intervention order would call on the Supreme Court to make the action of paying off the 115 signed petitioners binding to all panelists who are owed money. Nevermind the fact that Speak Asia simply don’t have a recorded revenue anywhere near the 30,000 cr they currently owe all 1.2 million panelists.

One could make the argument that the request of the list of panelists details by the mediator R.C. Lahoti could indicate he was going to consider what was owed to all panelists, but I believe it’s far more probable that this information is required to be verified by the mediator before any money is ordered paid to the signed 115 petitioners.

The notion that one man would oversee the payments owed to 1.2 million panelists is not at all likely, especially when there has to date been no public mention or acknowledgement by the Supreme Court of any such notion in the nine months since writ 383 begun.

From the looks of it, the EOW have agreed to hand over the required information requested by the mediator (in regards to the 115 petitioners) on the assurance that this action ‘will not hamper’ their investigation.

After validation and confirmation by the mediator, the case then will go back to court in August and the issue of payment to the 115 signed petitioners will then be resolved. As I mentioned earlier, some tax liability issues might be included for resolve on this date but this remains unclear per the court’s orders.

That’s pretty much where we’re at regarding the writ 383 case and longtime readers will note two things – the writ 383 case has not (now or ever) had anything to do with criminal proceedings and investigation into Speak Asia, business restarts or exit options.

I myself had called out the Lahoti mediation committee’s uselessness back in November of last year and it appears that, as far as payments to all panelists and addressing criminal liabilities goes – that was entirely accurate.

Yesterday’s order was of course great news to the 115 signed petitioners, who for once appear to now have an end date in their sights, but for everyone else the lies they’ve been fed by Speak Asia and AISPA have only now been officially exposed for what they are.

With Speak Asia and AISPA both employing high-priced legal teams (paid for with panelist’s money), I suspect they saw the writing on the wall before yesterday’s Supreme Court order and as such have launched a petition signing campaign tomorrow on Saturday the 11th May.

The fact that Speak Asia, through AISPA are now openly calling on panelists to ignore any and all court cases only drives home the point that neither party can pretend or mislead people as to the scope of writ 383, nor the fact that their major arguments in all investigation and FIR quashing cases that the Supreme Court is handling everything, has been finally blown out of the water by no less than the Supreme Court itself.

As such, from what I gather come tomorrow those still willing to blindly follow Speak Asia’s management through AISPA will meet up, sign a petition with a list of demands to be made to Indian authorities (an admission in itself that they cannot stop police investigations into Speak Asia by wasting everybody’s time in court), and the placing of stickers on cars as some sort of coordinated protest effort.

With the Supreme Court clearing the way for criminal investigations into Speak Asia to continue, no doubt any such demands from Speak Asia’s management regarding the dropping of investigations will have trouble finding an audience.

Looking forward, all eyes will now no doubt turn to the next hearing of AISPA’s writ 3611 in the Mumbai High Court that is next due for hearing on the 28th June. With the EOW having received concrete clarification that the Supreme Court writ 383 case has no impact on any criminal investigation, one would imagine the High Court will remove the stay in place on the EOW’s investigation, along with the stay on arrests in connection to the case.

Before the High Court placed a stay on the investigation, the EOW were poised to arrest Bahirwani, presumably on suspicion of working in co-ordination with Speak Asia’s fugitive management in hiding and effectively serving as local defacto management for the company.

Once the High Court removes the stay on the EOW’s investigation, it’ll be interesting to see if the true relationship between AISPA, Bahirwani and Speak Asia will finally be revealed.

Last time Bahirwani caught wind of his pending arrest he fled and went on the run from authorities for nearly two months before his lawyers made the argument in court that the Supreme Court was “handling” the EOW’s case. With that argument now thrown out of the window by the Supreme Court it’ll be interesting to see what happens now.

I had considered that the EOW might resume their investigation taking a cue from the Supreme Court, but going over the High Court’s order it appears they do have to report back to the High Court first before getting back to their investigation. If I was the EOW I’d be gunning for a pre-poning of the writ 3611 case but I suppose short of Bahirwani fleeing again before June 28th there’s not all that much for them to worry about.

One final aspect to consider is also how the Supreme Court’s clarification might affect other cases involving the quashing of FIRs and criminal investigations. Most notably Speak Asia have launched a case against the CID in the Supreme Court and no doubt they were using much of the same argument(s) that AISPA were. Arguments that now hold little weight.

The Speak Asia vs. CID case is due back in court on the 2nd of July so we’ll have to wait and see what happens there.

In the meantime those that have been cheated, Speak Asia’s panelists, could accept the hard reality that this entire legal charade has been nothing more than an exercise with no other goal than to secure the legal absolution of company management for running the largest Ponzi scheme in Indian history, or give some blood tomorrow (a worthy action in itself) and sign petitions demanding India legalize Ponzi schemes immediately and permit Speak Asia to restart business operations.

Best of luck guys.