The Supreme Court reserved its order in the Adani-Hindenburg case after hearing multiple pleas related to the matter on Friday (24 November). The bench, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, emphasised that the apex court cannot doubt the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)'s probe solely based on media reports.
Several petitioners informed the Supreme Court about inconsistencies in the investigation revealed by the Financial Times and Guardian, pointing out that some funds were managed by Vinod Adani, brother of Gautam Adani. They further highlighted that the SEBI claimed to have finished their investigation reports but had not yet disclosed them.
Responding to this, the court said according to Business Today that it would be unreasonable to expect the SEBI to accept a story in a newspaper, even one as reputable as the Financial Times, as gospel truth. The bench questioned, "Should SEBI begin chasing journalists who don’t fall under its jurisdiction?"
The court then questioned, "Is it appropriate to request SEBI to reveal its findings before it has the chance to commence legal proceedings? Is it possible for us to make premature judgments on SEBI's findings?
The court noted that SEBI should complete the investigation in all 24 cases, and it observed that the Hindenburg Research report should not be treated as an absolute statement of truth.
SEBI confirmed it won't seek further extensions for completing the probe in the Adani-Hindenburg matter. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing SEBI, highlighted the refusal of the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) to share details of their report.
The petitioners suggested to the Supreme Court that a court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) should be considered. In response, the Supreme Court questioned, "Where is the evidence that would lead us to question the SEBI investigation?"
The court focused on investor protection and questioned SEBI's actions in ensuring investor value. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured that action had been taken against short-sellers when instances were found.
The Supreme Court's order reservation comes amid concerns raised by petitioners regarding discrepancies in the investigation and allegations related to certain funds being run by Gautam Adani's brother, Vinod Adani. The court stressed the importance of relying on SEBI's probe rather than media reports.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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