The Securities Appellate Tribunal today dismissed Reliance Industries' appeal against Sebi for rejecting its consent application for alleged violations of norms in dealings with RPL shares but came down heavily on the market regulator over the way in which it handled the issue.
"Since Section 15JB(4) bars appeal against any order passed in consent proceedings, we have no option but to dismiss the appeal," a full bench of the SAT headed by presiding officer JP Devadhar and members Jog Singh and AS Lamba said, bringing the curtains down on the four-year proceedings.
"Ordinarily, we would have considered maintainability of appeal first and thereafter consider merits of appeal only if the appeal is maintainable. In the present case, after appeal was heard on merits, questions regarding maintainability of the appeal arose in view of Sebi framing 2014 Regulations retrospectively in exercise of powers conferred by Section 15JB inserted to Sebi Act retrospectively.
"There is no dispute that Section 15JB itself has been in and out of operation in view of promulgation and lapsing of the Ordinance No. 8 of 2013 and Ordinance No. 9 of 2013 from time to time, and there is no dispute that as on date Section 15JB (4) is in operation," SAT said in its order.
However, the tribunal came down heavily on Sebi and termed its decision to reject RIL's consent application as "arbitrary and in excess of the powers" vested in it under the Sebi Act of 1992.
Despite accepting RIL's contention questioning the way its application was rejected by Sebi, it said considering the manner in which amendments were made to the consent process through ordinances, it has no powers to accept the RIL petition as the changes were notified retrospectively.