Adani Saga: SC demands definite timeline for SEBI probe

The Supreme Court granted additional time to SEBI till August 14, while refusing the six-month extension the markets regulator sought

Representative image of Adani logo on a computer screen with a second device carrying a Hindenburg Research label pointed at the screen (artwork: National Herald)
Representative image of Adani logo on a computer screen with a second device carrying a Hindenburg Research label pointed at the screen (artwork: National Herald)

Aditya Anand

The Supreme Court has granted the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) additional time until August 14 to conclude its investigation into the Adani Group of companies.

Hearing SEBI's request for an extension on Wednesday, the court firmly rejected the plea for an indefinite six-month extension, emphasising the need for a definite timeline.

The SEBI probe was initiated following allegations of "accounting fraud" and "brazen stock manipulation" made by US short-seller firm Hindenburg against the Adani Group on January 25.

SEBI had requested an extension, seeking more time to complete its investigation. The bench, consisting of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, instructed SEBI to file an updated report by August 14.

Additionally, the court directed SEBI to provide a copy of the report filed by the committee, which is chaired by Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, which was appointed to look into the matter. The apex court had on March 2 ordered the formation of a six-member committee to probe allegations of stock manipulation against the Adani Group by US short-seller Hindenburg.

"The expert committee has submitted its report within the two-month timeline. The proceedings shall be listed after recess on July 11," stated the bench in its order. "The expert committee is requested to further advise the court. The committee may take up further aspects as may be suggested, following the course of deliberations by the court."

During the hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing one of the petitioners, highlighted that SEBI had been investigating the Adani Group for several years, including in 2016 and 2021. Bhushan requested SEBI to present its findings on record, seeking a direction to that effect.

The Supreme Court's decision to grant an extension while rejecting an indefinite delay reflects the court's emphasis on the need for a timely and thorough investigation. The case involving the Adani Group has garnered significant attention, given the allegations against one of India's prominent conglomerates. By providing a specific deadline, the court aims to ensure that SEBI's investigation proceeds swiftly and that any findings are reported promptly.

As the legal process continues, all eyes will remain on SEBI and the Supreme Court, with stakeholders eagerly awaiting the outcome of the probe into the Adani Group. The case carries significant implications for corporate governance and investor confidence in India. The transparency, thoroughness and timeliness of the investigation will play a pivotal role in upholding the principles of accountability and restoring trust in the country's financial markets.

The Supreme Court has listed the matter for further hearing on July 11.

Meanwhile, Trinamul Congress MP Mahua Moitra—who has been spearheading the attack on the Adani Group since long before US short-seller Hindenburg Research accused it of stock market manipulation and accounting fraud—tweeted on Tuesday that market regulator SEBI’s affidavit to the Supreme Court was a clear case of “perjury”.

“It is absolutely unbelievable that India’s premier market regulator is so complicit with the Adani group that it lies to parliamentarians in writing saying it is investigating [the Adani Group]. Its bosses at [the finance ministry] lie in Parliament saying SEBI is investigating,” Moitra was quoted as having told The Telegraph.

Moitra told the newspaper that SEBI had informed her that it would be investigating issues relating to the Adani Group. “And then SEBI files an affidavit in SC saying it is not investigating. This is perjury,” she added. The market regulator said the claims that it had been investigating the Adani group since 2016 were “factually baseless”.

(With PTI inputs)

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