Mumbai: The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) on Friday adjourned hearing on Reliance India Ltd's (RIL) appeal against Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) of India till January 24, after the market regulator sought more time to study the petition in a case related to its rejection of a settlement plea by the corporate major. RIL had sought to settle certain investigations into alleged violation of insider trading norms in sale of shares of its erstwhile subsidiary Reliance Petroleum Ltd, but the application to settle of the matter under SEBI's consent framework was rejected by the regulator.
Consequently, RIL filed an appeal before the SAT, which had listed the matter for hearing today. SEBI, however, sought more time from SAT to study the RIL petition, pursuant to which the Tribunal adjourned the matter. RIL's appeal against the SEBI was earlier scheduled to be heard by SAT for admission on January 4, but it had adjourned the hearing to January 11.
RIL is believed to have challenged SEBI's decision to reject its application and also the changes made by SEBI in the regulations governing settlement of cases through consent mechanism - especially for cases already under consideration. Under SEBI's consent mechanism, companies can seek to settle cases with the market regulator after payment of certain charges and disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains.
In May 2012, SEBI tightened the regulations for settlement through consent framework, as a result of which many cases including those related to insider trading, cannot be settled through this mechanism. On January 3, SEBI published a list of 149 consent pleas, including 16 from entities related to RIL group, which it had found unsuitable for settlement through consent process.
These include applications of RIL itself and that of Group Chairman Mukesh Ambani's close aide Manoj Modi. These include 13 applications from various entities in a case involving alleged violation of SEBI regulations for Prohibition of fraudulent and unfair trade practices' in a matter of RIL's erstwhile subsidiary Reliance Petroleum Ltd.
Besides, there are three applications related to alleged violation of 'Prohibition of Insider Trading Regulations' in the matter of another erstwhile RIL group company - Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd (IPCL) - which used to be a government-owned company and was later acquired by Mukesh Ambani-led group as part of a disinvestment exercise. Both the companies, Reliance Petroleum and IPCL, used to be separately listed entities, but were later acquired by RIL and got delisted from the stock exchanges. The merger process for RPL was completed in 2009.