The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday extended the time for the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) till August 14, 2023 to conclude its investigation into claims of stock price manipulation made against Adani Group firms by US-based short seller firm Hindenburg Research
The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday extended the time for the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) till August 14, 2023 to conclude its investigation into claims of stock price manipulation made against Adani Group firms by US-based short seller firm Hindenburg Research.
DY Chandrachud, the Chief Justice of India, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala made the ruling in response to a request by the SEBI for additional six months to conclude the investigation. The two months that were initially permitted by the supreme court as per its judgement from March 2 came to an end on May 2.
The expert committee that was formed by the court was directed by the bench to continue helping the Court and ordered that copies of the expert committee's report, which was produced under the headed of former SC judge Justice AM Sapre, be distributed to the parties and their solicitors.
The bench further ordered the SEBI to provide a status update on the ongoing probe. Tushar Mehta, the Indian Solicitor General, spoke on behalf of SEBI and asked for an extension of at least six months. The bench refused, stating that "indefinite extension" was not something it could offer. "We first gave 2 months, but have since extended it until August, making it 5 months. Tell us then if you're having any real problems,” CJI Chandrachud asked the SG.
SEBI submitted a response affidavit to the Supreme Court two days earlier, outlining further justifications for needing more time to look into the Adani-Hindenburg situation. According to SEBI, the transactions are complicated and take more time to evaluate. The petitioner claimed that the Securities Board has been looking into Adani since 2016, however this claim has been refuted by the Securities Board. According to some reports, the probe focused on the issuing of Global Depository Receipts by 51 Indian listed firms, none of which were members of the Adani Group. According to the Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MMOU) between SEBI and the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), which relates to its investigation into Minimum Public Shareholding (MPS) norms, SEBI has already contacted eleven foreign regulators.
In today's session, Advocate Prashant Bhushan questioned the SEBI's assertion that it has not been looking into Adani group companies since 2016. Bhushan was speaking on behalf of the petitioner requesting an investigation into the Hindenburg report. Bhushan argued that SEBI's assertion conflicts with the Union Government's response to the Parliament. Bhushan had questioned the SEBI's need for extra time on the latest hearing date, noting that the watchdog had been looking into Adani Companies since 2016. Another petitioner in the case, attorney Vishal Tiwari, disagreed with the SEBI's argument.
The Solicitor General said that the 2016 SEBI probe was on a distinct matter and had nothing to do with the claims made in the Hindenburg report.
“In 2016, SEBI passed an order pertaining to 51 listed companies of India. No company of this group was a part of those 51 companies. My learned friend wants an enquiry on everything that happened to this company since 2016 or even 2008. That's not the remit of this petition. This petition concerns the Hindenburg report", SG said. He undertook that an affidavit will be filed explaining this position.
“We are on the Hindenburg report and remit of the proceeding is not have a roving enquiry against the company. It is stated that 2016 investigation related to Global depository receipts and 2020 is relating to Minimum Public Shareholding norms...", CJI Chandrachud told Bhushan. (With inputs from agencies)