CB Bhave’s NSDL role in the spotlight in a Supreme Court appeal

Special leave petition in Supreme Court revives the matter of the controversial role of the SEBI board in exonerating CB Bhave’s role as NSDL chief in the IPO scam in 2006 

After a publicity blitz hailing Chandrashekar B Bhave as the messiah of retail investors (not by Moneylife) and the best chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) we learn that the Supreme Court is asking questions about a big blot on SEBI's credibility, which large sections of the media chose to bury.

Hearing a special leave petition (SLP) 2801 of 2011, against a Delhi High Court order, a bench comprising Justice R V Raveendran and Justice A K Patnaik has asked SEBI to respond within two weeks, as to why the report of the Mohan Gopal-V Leeladhar Committee (comprising SEBI board members), in connection with the 2006 multiple-applications to IPO (initial public offerings) scam, was rejected outright.

Readers of Moneylife would recollect that although chairman CB Bhave had recused himself from issues related to the IPO scam, the entire board, led by whole-time directors appointed by him, had worked hard to ensure that every trace of the IPO scam, especially the indictment of the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) when Mr Bhave was its chairman, was expunged and erased (the Central Depository Services of India was a beneficiary of this protection to NSDL and also got away scot free). The orders of the committee were declared void based on an opinion of C Achutyan, former presiding officer of SAT.

(Read: The Curious Case of Suppressed Orders; What will SEBI decide today?; Sacrificing SEBI’s credibility to save NSDL;  Reining in the Regulator )

According to a report in the Indian Express, the Supreme Court openly wondered why the report of a bench of the SEBI board was sidelined and ignored. The court was hearing an SLP filed by an NGO called the Social Action Forum For Manav Adhikar which has alleged that Mr Bhave showed "undue favours" to NSDL in the IPO 2006 scam issue. It has advocate Prashant Bhushan as its counsel. (Incidentally, a petition filed by the NGO before the Delhi High Court was dismissed and a cost of Rs50,000 imposed on it for unnecessary litigation.)

Yet, it is interesting to look at the questions of law raised by the petition, since it can have a big impact on the perception about how SEBI has functioned in the past three years under Mr Bhave's chairmanship. The SLP asks:

  •   Whether an inquiry report of a committee constituted by SEBI, finding serious fraud by NSDL, can be rejected on the ground that the committee had also found some irregularity by SEBI and had thus gone beyond its mandate?
     
  •   Whether the recusal of Mr Bhave (who was chairman of NSDL at the relevant time), at the time of considering the report submitted by the committee (comprising SEBI board directors Mohan Gopal-V Leeladhar) was adequate to hold that SEBI acted properly in rejecting the report.
     
  •  Whether the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is powerless to interfere with an order obtained from the Securities Appellate Tribunal when it is clear that it is collusive?
     
  • Whether SEBI has failed in its solemn duty under the law to take action against the principal culprits behind the IPO scam of 2003-05 in which tens of thousands of small investors across the country were defrauded of crores of rupees?
     
  •  Whether SEBI violated the law by shielding the SEBI chairman from potential legal liability for his role in the IPO scam by conferring undue favours to NSDL, and by allowing a corporate official (Mr T V Mohandas Pai, part-time director of SEBI) to exercise judicial power and preside over SEBI's quasi-judicial proceedings that "exculpated the SEBI chairman from legal liability"?
     
  •  Whether SEBI violated the law by failing to follow required legal standards on conflict of interest of key officials?
     
  •    Whether the SEBI board has the power to review the report of the committee (Mohan Gopal-V Leeladhar committee)?
     
  • Whether officials of SEBI have the legal power or authority to intercept, seize and suppress the due implementation of quasi-judicial orders of a duly constituted quasi-judicial panel of SEBI which falls outside their jurisdiction, and if not, whether such actions amount to criminal interference with judicial proceedings?


The petition further states that the Delhi High Court, "failed to appreciate that the SEBI board, may, without any legal authority, in an arbtirary and mala fide manner, usurp the powers of judicial review of quasi-judicial orders, which, under the SEBI Act, are subject only to review by SAT and the Supreme Court and High Courts under Articles 32, 226/227 respectively". And whether actions taken by SEBI in the exercise of judicial power were, in the words of Justice J S Verma (former chief justice of the Supreme Court) "a violation of established legal and constitutional principles".

The NGO requested the Supreme Court to direct SEBI to implement the orders issued by the committee and "order an investigation by an appropriate agency regarding various acts committed by CB Bhave in his capacity as chairman of SEBI so as to do undue favours to NSDL."

Now that the matter is in the Supreme Court, it will be interesting to see if the issue is buried once again. One thing, however, is clear-the main dramatis personae are no longer as powerful as they were under a chairman who was personally involved. Interestingly, Mr Bhave had once told this writer that SEBI has been and remains a chairman-led organisation. This was not clearly visible in its actions, when the chairman was ostensibly "ring-fenced" from the IPO scam-related issues.

(Read the complete orders of the SEBI board: http://www.sebi.gov.in/cmorder/NSDL-IPO.pdf and http://www.sebi.gov.in/cmorder/DSQSoftware.pdf)

Comments
jay
1 decade ago
we should have a KYR (Know your regulator) mandated. who knows whose money he laundered at NSDL and at SEBI staved it off. Why only customers for KYC. why not KYM (KY Ministers, KY fund manager the list can go on endless)
bharat gandhi
1 decade ago
i m surprised n shocked to read the comments. i think those who support bhave or sebi should lodge just ONE complain with them n see if they get any response from the sleeping beauties. expecting justice from these thick skinned public SERVANTS is just a mirage. and one should not also forget the legacies of bhave n of sucheta. the former had always been caught with his hand in the till and the latter had unearthed the biggest scam. if for nothing else sucheta and her team must be lauded and supported by every true citizen and investor of this country for the very difficult task of taking on the stubborn bureaucratic kings.
Santdaveed
1 decade ago
The original order of the Mohan Gopal Committee was never published till it was declared non-est by the persons who support NSDL. In effect, the order in its original form was never published. To those who follow the case, it is clear that those who wanted to support NSDL' case in SEBI never wanted to comply with the court order. They committed a contempt of AP High Court order when they placed the order in public domain only after they declared it non-est and removed the stigma out of it. This in itself is a case of investigation. Going by the Questions raised in the Supreme Court case, it is interesting to see the final verdict.
kiran
1 decade ago
It is now clear that our country is run on the simple principles of SCAM that is Systematic and Corrupt Administrative Manipulation.Everyone in the system seems to be helpless as is our PM.The likes of Roys, Dalals and Patkars ,to name a few, are the only hope for the generation to come. Keep up your good work. I wish you all the success.
MM Sundram
1 decade ago
I KNOW VERY WELL ABOUT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE NSDL. THEY WILL NOT RECTIFY THE MATTERS AND ISSUES. I SUFFERED LOT. MY ASSETS WORTH ABOUT 2.85 Cr SECURITIES TAKEN OVER BY THE THIRD PARTY POA, BY ONE DP AGENT OF NSDL AND THE NSDL NOT HAD TAKEN ACTION, KNOWINGLY ALLOWED AND NOT HAD TAKEN ANY ACTION. THIER DATA HAS BEEN TAMPERED. BUT THE SEBI HAD NOT TAKEN ANY ACTION AND NOT EVEN REPLIED BY ITS CHAIRMAN [CB BAHVE TILL HE LEFT]. NOW MOF HAS TAKEN ACTION AND I AM PATIENTLY WAITING.
Rakesh
1 decade ago
My god, Bhave chamchas have managed to launch such a vicious personal attack against one of the rare few incourrptible journalists in India.
Sigh! Cant complain. As a country we get what we deserve. Folks! Please throw more mud, hoping some it will stick. But high hopes. Moneylife will go from strength to strength and Tiwari, Devdutt and Shetye will only look more like what they are - mad barking dogs!
Vaibhav Dhoka
1 decade ago
SEBI since inception was never small investor friendly.It never adhered to its PREAMBLE i.e INVESTORS protection.On the contrary broking houses like Kotak Sec.used the franchisees who are unregistered with SEBi to loot investors.And SEBI is mute spectator to this loot.Since its establishment in 1992 various scams in securities have surfaced.SEBI compensated small investors by paying small amount to show that it has concern towards small investors.To sum up SEBI is for BROKERS and not For Investors.
Devdatt
1 decade ago
Dear Sucheta....Although I am a regular at moneylife.com, this article is like stretching your angst against Mr.Bhave too far....i hope you have the same guts and candidness to speak about Mr.Sanjay Nirupam and his "karma", who is often seen as a "respected" guest of honour at moneylife time and again...
sucheta Dalal
Replied to Devdatt comment 1 decade ago
This is an open forum. Just as you have dared to convert an SLP into a personal issue against BHAVE, I am sure you have information to back what you say about Sanjay Nirupam. What stops you from posting those details with your name and address? Why cast aspersions on anyone without facts? Everything written in Moneylife -- and this goes for the comment below too -- is backed by facts and facts alone. Nothing is vague like the comment you make about "stretching" or "targeting persons". Mr Shetye too has to back up his claims about who is being left out with NAMES and specific details. As I said, this is an open forum -- if Shetye can produce a fact based article about anyone he claims is "left out" by Moneylife, then he has a point.
Regular readers of Moneylife know that several of our writers are outside experts and eminent columnists. He can become one too -- but as I said -- GET FACTS !!
vishnu
Replied to sucheta Dalal comment 1 decade ago
Sucheta,
I think you should not demean yourself by responding to these scumbags, planted by bhave or maybe bhave himself!
Please concentrate your energies on the fantastic work Moneylife is doing to help investors. After all, they have been thrown to the wolves by Bhave, Vaidyanathan and gang without understanding anything about how Indian financial markets work. Maybe Bhave should join banks like Kotak as the Chairman after allowing them to get away by selling poison to their customers
Ravindra Shetye
Replied to Devdatt comment 1 decade ago
I have been reading Moneylife for about 8-10 months.

I find that gradually Moneylife is being selective in targeting some persons and leaving out some persons. This is bad for the reputation of Moneylife.

Mr Bhave might have made some mistakes (it happens to everyone including you) but no one can question his honesty and his intelligence.
sudharshan
Replied to Ravindra Shetye comment 1 decade ago
you seem to know bhave "intimately". or all your wisdom about him is from reading paid news in economic times? i wonder where do these wide-eyed idiots come from! and that too here! why cant they stick to that corrupt times of india?
Sharad Pethe
Replied to Ravindra Shetye comment 1 decade ago
SHETYE....I will repeat just your last sentence by adding few names...and see the big difference it would make.
"A Raja and Suresh Kalmadi" might have made some mistakes (it happens to everyone including you) but no one can question their (his) honesty and intelligence.
GOT the point? Just reading Moneylife does not make you wise, your need to understand as well.
Amalaraj Marian
1 decade ago
In my opinion the entire presence of Mr Bhave was focused to destabilise the Mutual Industry and to create an atmosphere where the large brokering members would benefit. His interest was not for that of the small investors trust me it was exactly to fleace them instead. what else could one expect if these investors are left in the mercy of the turnover focused brokers.
his actions were without any logic when he at his level had access to the entire information that is available as to who was doing what his actions were more like that of a Jr. Clerk. Who simply takes one action that is stop work. He had options to call in the data of erring operaters and had full powers to penelise them. instead in just one swat he sent the entire on a tail spin. what do you all think?
Shankar Kumar
1 decade ago
THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AJMAL KASAB AND C B BHAVE.THEY BOTH KILLED PEOPLE.KASAB KILLED MANY INOCENT INDIANS AND BHAVE KILLED MANY HARD EARNING IFA'S AND SMALL RETAIL INVESTORS
Angelo Extross
1 decade ago
Reminds of "Mirror Mirror On the Wall"
The questions put in the SLP are very tight indeed - not even a bubble of air can leak through. Congratulations. Wishing you all the success you deserve.
Roopsingh
1 decade ago
even his ROLE for all his actions as SEBI chairman for so called REFORMS in mutual fund industry should be put by supreme court appeal which did more harm then good to retail investors and DIIs against giving undue edge to FIIs-
Roopsingh
1 decade ago
It is day light truth that Mr Bhave acted as a agent of NSDL and NSE and he tried to give favours to them without making a second thought-his partiality was not VISIBLE to media who were PAID-but to any honest neutral citizen he just tried to CLEAN ground by ethnic cleansing of IFAs and small retail investors.
Thanks Suchetaji for putting this article so comprehensively.
Roopsingh
1 decade ago
BRAVO: the real game starts now-the courts are changed-now Mr Bhave will have to look into the MIRROR which is not NSDL supplied-so now it is to be seen how this MESSIAH of RETAIL INVESTORS(as quoted by some paid media persons)defends him self-
i am sure the NGO did a great job by SPL against a person who is no different then GADDAFI of security market-who killed several IFAs & RETAIL investors without bullets -
dictators have always such fates
Rajan
1 decade ago
It is amazing how naive, almost idiotic, some of the media guys have been in assessing the SEBI tenure of Mr Bhave. How can some body who has blatantly and audaciously thrown each page of the rule book in defending himself and NSDL in this matter,( that too in such a shoddy way), be called honest? The clumsy scheme created by his advisors including the two Whole time members and the Legal Head is a testimony to their intellectual and moral bankruptcy and the brazen attitude.
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