The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) on Wednesday expressed its dissatisfaction with the order passed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) barring Essel Group Chairman Subhash Chandra and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) Punit Goenka from holding directorial positions in listed companies during the investigation against them in relation to fund embezzlement case. .On August 14, SEBI Chairperson and Whole Time Member (WTM) Madhabi Puri Buch found that there existed a prima facie case of fund embezzlement against Chandra and Goenka. The SEBI observed in its order that prima facie, the duo seemed to be involved in the execution of a scheme by which the ZEEL family ultimately benefited at the cost of funds belonging to public listed companies.In view of this, a time-bound investigation, to be completed within eight months, was ordered, and Chandra and Goenka were barred from holding directorial positions till such probe was completed..Chandra and Goenka challenged this order before SAT and the appeal was heard for interim relief of stay on August 30. A coram of presiding officer Justice Tarun Agarwala and technical member Meera Swarup expressed its disagreement with the period restraining the duo from holding directorial positions while the investigation is ongoing. The Appellate Tribunal opined that if the shareholders have voted for the directors, it cannot be ignored.“We are not satisfied with eight months. The (Zee-Sony) merger happened with the consensus of shareholders. There is public interest involved. If the public says he should be director, it does have a bearing.".SAT granted time to SEBI till September 4 to respond to the appeals and posted the same for final hearing on September 8..SEBI member and WTM Ashwani Bhatia passed an interim order on June 12, 2023, barring Chandra and Goenka from holding directorial or key managerial positions (KMP) in any listed company or its subsidiaries.The aggrieved duo challenged this order before SAT, which dismissed the appeal on July 10. The Appellate Tribunal, however, directed SEBI to appoint another WTM to hear the appeal filed by Goenka and Chandra challenging the allegations that they were involved in siphoning off funds.Accordingly, the matter was heard by a new WTM who confirmed the interim order and modified it to the extent that Chandra and Goenka will not be allowed to hold directorial positions till the completion of the investigation..Meanwhile, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in Mumbai on August 10 upheld the merger between Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE) and Culver Max Entertainment (earlier known as Sony Pictures Networks India).