[Adani-Hindenburg issue] Expert Committee submits report, Supreme Court to decide SEBI's plea seeking extension to complete probe on Monday

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In its application, SEBI had informed the Supreme Court that pursuant to its order, SEBI has attended two meetings called by the Expert Committee on April 2 and 26, 2023 respectively, during which detailed presentations were made by SEBI before the Committee. " Applicant/SEBI has submitted a detailed status report and the prima facie findings to the Committee in compliance with the order passed by this Hon’ble Court", the application added.

The Expert Committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice AM Sapre, constituted by the Supreme Court, to review the regulatory mechanism, as a direction in the pleas filed over the Adani-Hindenburg issue, has submitted its report.

CJI Chandrachud today orally remarked, "The report of the committee appointed by this court headed by Justice Sapre has been submitted with the Registry, though we have not gotten a chance to read it."

This remark came to be made by the special bench which was hearing Securities and Exchange Board of India's (SEBI) application seeking an extension of 6 months to complete its investigation into the issue. On March 2nd, Supreme Court had directed SEBI to complete its investigation within a period of two months and file a status report before it.

Top court said that it would decide on SEBI's request on Monday, after reading the Expert Committee's report.

Appearing on behalf of SEBI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Court today that while the agency had reached a particular stage, for reaching a conclusion it needed 6 months.

"Considering the contours outside our jurisdiction, that is the minimum time required", a bench of Justices Pardiwala and Narasimha was further told.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners, told the court today that they had filed their reply to SEBI's application stating that, "There is IOSCO (International Organization of Securities Commissions), which India is part of, and they can seek any information from them, they have received complaints since 2017."

To this the SG replied, "We have already asked them for inputs."

After a brief deliberation, the CJI said, "The report of the committee appointed by this court headed by Justice Sapre has been submitted with the Registry, we have not read it. In the meantime, we will read it, and pass orders on your application on Monday and any further orders if required."

In March, the Top Court had constituted an expert committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice AM Sapre and consisting of OP Bhat (former Chairman of SBI), retired Justice JP Devadhar, KV Kamath, Nandan Nilakeni, and Somasekharan Sundaresan as the members.

Notably, a batch of petitions seeking an investigation against US-based Hindenburg Research and others seeking an investigation against Adani Group over allegations made by Hindenburg Research were filed in February. 

On February 17, the top court had reserved its order in these batch while observing that it was inclined to maintain 'full transparency' in the matter.

It may be noted that recently, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had submitted his apprehension before the Supreme Court appointing an expert committee to look into the Hindenburg Report.

"Existing agencies are fully equipped. However, responding to your lordships suggestions, we have no objection in constituting a committee. The only thing is, we don't want to send a message that a government agency needs to be overseen by a committee...", the SG had submitted before a CJI Chandrachud-led bench.