A public interest litigation has been filed in the Bombay High Court seeking a CBI probe into the alleged refusal by National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL) to pay dues to 17,000 small investors, claiming it is a scam to the tune of Rs 8,000 crore.
Former BJP MP and president of Investors' Grievances Forum Kirit Somaiya has filed the petition.
The respondents named in the PIL include Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Finance, Forward Market Commission, Central Board of Direct Taxes, the beleaguered NSEL, and its promoter Jignesh Shah.
The PIL contends that NSEL's role was to bring farmers and buyers together by eliminating middlemen but it forged/manipulated documents regarding stocks and liquidity and allowed some of the companies to pledge the same stock with more than one financial institutions.
Somaiya has sought a probe by CBI or the Economic Offences Wing of Mumbai Police or the Central Vigilance Commission, and demanded action against NSEL, its promoters and 24 companies which it says have disappeared along with Rs 8,000 crores.
The crisis at NSEL would have a cascading effect on other exchanges run by the same promoters, namely MCX and MCX-SX, the PIL says. Government officials, politicians and NSEL connived to cheat the investors, it alleges.
The PIL also seeks that NSEL's licence be cancelled and it be restrained from carrying on the operations until it pays the dues of the investors.
According to the petition, NSEL had stated that it had a settlement guarantee fund of Rs 830 crore, however recently it disclosed that it had only Rs 60 crore in this fund.
NSEL, promoted by Jignesh Shah-led Financial Technologies (India) Ltd, is facing the problem of settling Rs 5,600 crore dues of 148 members/brokers, representing thousands of investor-clients, after it suspended trade on July 31 on the government's direction.
The bourse has already defaulted in the last two pay-outs as it was able to gather only Rs 92.73 crore in the first pay-out and Rs 12.05 crore in the second pay-out out of the scheduled Rs 174.72 crore each.
There are 24 buyers/members which have to pay Rs 5,600 crore to the spot exchange for settling dues of the investors.
Meanwhile, the Economic Offences Wing of Mumbai police has already initiated a preliminary inquriy into the developments at the bourse.