Promising greater powers to Sebi in its silver jubilee year,Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said a proposal is under consideration to amend the Sebi Act,which governs various activities concerning the capital markets.
“I believe that India’s capital market is among the best regulated markets. This year is Sebi’s silver jubilee year and I offer the regulator our congratulations. A proposal to amend the SEBI Act to strengthen the regulator is under consideration,” Chidambaram said during his Budget speech.
By way of amendment in the Sebi Act,the market regulator has already sought a major overhaul of the securities laws including greater authority to nail manipulators by way of powers to conduct ‘search and seizure’ operations and to demand information from any person in relation to its probes.
It has also proposed the recovery of monetary penalties through Income-Tax arrear mechanism,setting up of special courts to deal with criminal prosecution for violation of securities laws and recognition of Sebi’s counsels as public prosecutors.
Sebi has decided to pursue these proposed amendments in view of the challenges faced by it in areas such as the recovery and realisation of monetary penalties and regulation of pooling of monies from public by schemes including those in the nature of collective investments,among others.
The market regulator has been facing impediments on its investigation and enforcement powers with regard to protecting investments by attachment of assets. It has also faced challenges to enforcement and implementation of its orders.
In addition,Sebi has been facing restrained in taking necessary actions against market manipulators as it lacks an effective power of search and seizure,and due to limited sharing of information with overseas regulators as well as lack of power to call for information from any person in relation to enquiry or investigation.
Sebi had last sought amendments to the Securities Laws in 2009 and had sent its recommendations to the Finance Ministry.
However,the Ministry later informed it that Sebi should pursue only critical amendments for the time being,as the government had set up a Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) to rewrite and harmonise the entire gamut
of financial sector laws.
Accordingly,Sebi in 2011 forwarded a proposal containing only critical amendments to securities laws,which it felt cannot wait long and must be perused independent of the recommendation of the FSLRC.
The Finance Ministry in December had sought certain clarifications with regard to the proposed amendments,pursuant to which Sebi has now decided to limit its proposals to the “most important and critical amendments” and keeping the others for consideration after FSLRC recommendations.