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Adani-Hindenburg Row: SC Adjourns Hearing of SEBI’s Plea to Extend Investigation

The SC will hear SEBI's plea for an extension of time on the investigation on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court on Monday postponed the Adani-Hindenburg case. The hearing could not occur on Monday due to time constraints and a scheduled hearing on certain matters before the special bench at 3 pm.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud was expected to announce the extension from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).

Meanwhile, SEBI filed a rejoinder affidavit giving more reasons to seek more time to investigate the issue. The regulator sought a deadline to complete its investigation into the allegations in the Hindenburg report.

Sebi told the Supreme Court that it had not investigated any Adani companies since 2016 and that the allegations that it had been doing so are “factually baseless”.

“The extension application by SEBI is aimed at ensuring the impartiality of justice, keeping in mind the interest of investors and the securities market, as any incorrect or premature conclusion of the case without the full factual material being recorded will not serve the purpose of justice, and is therefore legally untenable,” it said.

The markets watchdog cited the complexity of the transactions mentioned in the Hindenburg report to justify its request for an extension of time to complete its investigation.

It also said that any erroneous or premature conclusion of an investigation into possible lapses in regulatory disclosures by billionaire Gautam Adani’s nominated group would be subversive of justice and legally untenable.

“Concerning the investigation/review related to the 12 transactions mentioned in the Hindenburg Report, prima facie evidence suggests that these transactions were complex with many sub-transactions in multiple jurisdictions and that a rigorous investigation of these transactions would require Collation of data/information from sources including bank statements from various domestic and international banks, financial statements of onshore and offshore entities involved in the transaction and contracts and agreements between the entities (if any) and other supporting documents,” SEBI said in its request.

“Thereafter, documents received from various sources must be analysed before conclusive conclusions can be drawn,” it said.

Last week, the Supreme Court said it might extend the three-month deadline to investigate allegations of stock price manipulation and regulatory failures by Adani Group. Sebi has asked the court for a six-month extension.

On March 2, the SC asked Sebi to investigate the plunge in Adani Group shares following the Hindenburg report. It also asked regulators to develop ways to strengthen the regulatory framework to protect investors’ interests.

The Supreme Court also established a six-member panel of experts to determine whether there has been a regulatory failure to address the issue. The committee was given two months to submit its report in sealed form. Sebi Chairman was also ordered to provide the committee with all relevant information. In April, Sebi mobilised the SC and sought a six-month extension to complete its investigation.

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