Adani-Hindenburg Row: Supreme Court Refuses To Accept Centre's Sealed Cover Suggestion For Expert Panel

Swarajya Staff

Feb 17, 2023, 05:01 PM | Updated 05:01 PM IST

Adani Group
Adani Group

The Supreme Court on Friday (17 February) refused to accept in a sealed cover the Centre's suggestion on a proposed panel of experts for strengthening regulatory measures for stock markets in the wake of the recent Adani Group shares crash triggered by Hindenburg Research's fraud allegations.

Observing that it wanted “full transparency for protection of investors”, the top court also ruled out the possibility of any sitting judge overseeing the functioning of the proposed panel.

The CJI DY Chandrachud led bench, which also comprised Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, said that the apex Court will instead appoint a committee on its own since accepting the government's sealed cover suggestion could give an impression that it is a government appointed committee.

“We are closing it for orders,” said the bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud after hearing brief submissions by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and PIL petitioners including lawyers Prashant Bhushan and M L Sharma.

At the outset, the law officer said he had given a note on the names and “remit” (scope) of the committee in a sealed cover.

“‘This has been given with two intentions in mind. A. a holistic view is taken and the truth comes out; B. No unintended message goes out having an impact on the security market, which is an emotion driven market,” Mehta said.

The bench referred to the losses suffered by the investors.

The law officer said he has no issues with regard to any judge supervising the committee.

“We would rather not accept the sealed cover suggestions. We want to ensure transparency. In case we take your suggestions from sealed cover, it automatically means the other party won't know,” said the bench, which also comprised Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala .

“We want full transparency for the protection of investors. We will form a committee. There will be a sense of confidence in the court,” the bench said.

"Sitting (SC) judges can hear the matter and they cannot be the part of the committee," the CJI said, adding he has been facing difficulties in setting up benches everyday.

On 10 February, the top court had said the interest of Indian investors need to be protected against market volatility in the backdrop of the Adani Group stocks rout and asked the Centre to consider setting up a panel of domain experts headed by a former judge to look at strengthening the regulatory mechanism.

The crucial hearing on the PILs on Friday assumed significance in the wake of the recent developments like the Centre agreeing to the apex court’s proposal to set up a committee, likely to be headed by a former Supreme Court judge, to go into the regulatory regimes.

Stressing that statutory bodies like market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) are “fully equipped” and are on job, the central government had expressed apprehension that any “unintentional” message to the investors that regulatory bodies in India needed monitoring by a panel may have some adverse impact on the flow of money into the country.

The Centre had told the bench that it wanted to provide details such as names and the scope of the panel’s mandate in a “sealed cover”.

Stock market regulator SEBI, in its note filed in the top court, had indicated it is not in favour of banning short-selling or sale of borrowed shares, and said it is investigating allegations made by a tiny short-seller against the Adani Group as well as its share price movements.

(With inputs from PTI)

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