In a development that will give chief minister Mamata Banerjee immense relief and save her from profound embarrassment the Justice Shyamal Sen Commission has declared Monday it will sell three TV channels owned by Sharada Group to raise money for refund to the investors of the chit fund that went bust February last year.
Justice Sen declared this after the Commission heard Sudipto Sen, chairman and managing director of the firm, at the commision’s office at BBD Bag. Sen is going to sign the necessary papers for handing over ownership of the three channels–Tara News, Tara Musik and Tara Punjabi–at the Commision’s office on January 24. After coming out of the office he told journalists that he would refund all money that his company raised from investors. During the hearing when counsel for the Employees Association running Tara TV channels raised questions regarding the security of jobs of the employees after the sale, Justice sen assured him it would be taken care of.
Justice Sen also announced that people who booked flats and bunglaws, numbering 15, at the chit fund owned Sharada Garden at Bishnupur in South 24 Parganas and paid a certain amount of money as booking fees, will get possession of the dwelling units if they pay the Commission the remaining portion of the price. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on May 22 last year announced at Writers’ Building that the government would acquire the channels with 160 employees to save them from starvation. But the ordinance for acquisition, promulgated thereafter, never got the assent of the President as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting did not give its approval citing a TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) order banning all acquisition of TV channels by any state government.
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Since May the employees numbereing 160 have been receiving remuneration to the tune of Rs 16,000 each, from the chief minister’s relief fund, something that was severely criticised by not only the opposition CPIM but several other sections of people. State Minister for law and justice Chandrima Bhattacharya, however said that she was hopeful if the ordinance got presidential nod it would not clash with the Commission’s order. “We can’t comment on the activities of the Commission,” Bhattacharya told Indian Express.
The Employees Association running the channel said they were ready for all situation. “We are waiting for the order of the commission and then we will decide on our next course of action. Didi saved us from starvation and we are sure she will never allow anything to happen that could geopardise our livelihood,” Deepankar, Nag of the association told Indian Express. It was the association which moved Calcutta High Court after the arrest of Sudipto Sen with a petition to give it the right to run the channels. The court set up a committee and gave them the permission to oversree the running of the channels. Meanwhile Justice Sen also said that the Commission would sell 235 cars of the Group that included those of the brand Mercedes, BMW, Bolero etc and the company owned Lincoln school situated at Siliguri to raise funds.