Additional Sessions Judge Pawan Kumar Jain also sentenced Ashwani Sud and Sanjeev Sood, directors of company Timberworld Resorts and Plantations India Ltd, to one year imprisonment after convicting the duo and the firm for the offences under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Act.
While a fine of Rs 15 crore was imposed on the firm, the court slapped a fine of Rs five crore each on the directors. The court, in its judgement, observed that had SEBI taken a strict action against these convicts in time, the investors might not have lost their money.
"It is also pertinent to state that lethargic approach on the part of regulator and other law enforcing agencies also encourages such type of persons to induce public at large," it observed, adding, "Had the SEBI taken strict action in time against such persons, probably investors would not have lost their hard-earned money".
"Such lethargic approach on the part of regulator and law enforcing agencies embolden such unscrupulous persons to gather an impression that if they gobbled the hard-earned money of common men of this country, law enforcing agency would not be able to apprehend them...," it said.
The judge said now a "loud and clear message" should be conveyed to such wrongdoers that if their guilt is proved in the court, they would be dealt with sternly.
"In my view, to curb such type of incidents, a clear message is required to be conveyed to the wrongdoers that if their guilt is proved they shall not only have to disgorge the ill-gotten amount but they shall also have to undergo imprisonment," it said.
The order came in a case in which the regulator had filed a complaint against the firm and its directors alleging that they had floated the Collective Investment Schemes (CIS) and raised over Rs 22 crore from general public in violation of the provisions of SEBI Act.
According to SEBI, any scheme or arrangement made or offered by any company under which payments made by investors, are pooled and utilised with a view to receive profits, income or property, and is managed on behalf of the investors is a CIS.