SAT slaps fine on Sebi for alleged lapses in ruling

The Securities Appellate Tribunal has imposed a fine on regulator Sebi for an adjudicating officer’s order that resulted in litigation and “harrassment” for a former official of BGIL Films & Technologies. It is a rare instance wherein the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has penalised the regulator for alleged lapses.

The order came on an appeal filed by Pooja Mahna, a former compliance officer of BGIL Films. An adjudicating officer of Sebi had imposed a penalty of Rs 50,000 on Mahna, for alleged lapses in making disclosures under the insider trading norms, in October 26, 2018.
Mahna (appellant) had tendered her resignation on February 19, 2010 and ceased to be in service from March 2, 2010. She was not involved in board meeting of the company held on February 23, 2010.

“Inspite of this admitted position and inspite the adjudicating officer observing that a benefit of doubt should be given to the appellant, (adjudicating officer) still imposed a penalty of Rs 50,000 (rupees fifty thousand only),” the tribunal said.

In an order dated June 28, the tribunal said the appellant had to undergo this litigation and face harassment for almost one-and-a-half years and that a substantial portion was spent towards fee paid to an advocate for drafting the appeal. “… the appellant is entitled to costs which we compute at Rs 50,000. The said cost of Rs 50,000 shall be paid by the respondent by a demand draft to the appellant…,” the order said.

While quashing the October 2018 order, the tribunal said the penalty was wholly unjustified and cannot be sustained especially when it has also come on record that the company’s chairman had confirmed that the appellant was not involved in the board meeting held on February 23, 2010.

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