The Madras High Court today issued notice in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition seeking the establishment of circuit Benches of the Securities Appellate Tribunal (Chennai Financial Markets v. Union of India).
The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy has asked the counsel for the Central Government to obtain instructions in the matter and file a counter or a report before the Court.
The petitioner’s counsel today pointed out that the Securities Appellate Tribunal presently only has a seat in Mumbai.
This prompted the Chief Justice to point out that this may be attributed to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) being in Mumbai. The SEBI, being the main regulator, would have to be party in all cases before the Tribunal, the Bench orally observed.
The counsel responded that SEBI has a regional office for the South as well in Chennai. He added that SEBI has pan-India jurisdiction and that many persons affected by SEBI’s orders may be in the South. With the rise of securities markets, SEBI has been passing several orders against intermediaries, brokers, and companies, it was argued.
Substantial reliance was also placed by the petitioner on the Supreme Court’s rulings in the National Tax Tribunal case and the Swiss Ribbons case. In the latter case, the Court had directed the constitution of circuit Benches of the National Company Appellate Law Tribunal (NCLAT) within six months, it was pointed out. It was further noted that petitions have since been moved in Court with respect to the setting up of the Chennai Bench of the NCLAT.
Companies affected by SEBI orders may be in Chennai and complaints filed before the SEBI may also be made by such South-based entities, it was pointed out. In case the SEBI failes to respond on a complaint, then such entity would have to go to the appellate forum in Mumbai. There is no opportunity provided to challenge the same in Chennai, it was submitted.
“Can we issue a mandamus for this purpose?”, the Bench proceeded to ask the petitioner’s counsel.
In response, he urged the Court to issue notice to the Centre in the matter, pointing out that it would ultimately be for the benefit of the public.
The Court proceeded to allow the issuance of notice in the matter. The matter has been listed for further hearing after four weeks.
The petitioner was represented by advocates Nithyaesh Natraj, Anirudh A Sriram, R Prashanthi, Vaibhav R Venkatesh. Advocate Rajesh Vivekananthan accepted notice for the Central Government.