With SEBI telling the Supreme Court that it was not investigating the Adani Group since 2016, the Congress on Monday cited a Union minister's reply in the Lok Sabha to challenge the claim and asked whether Parliament was misled or the market regulator was "fast asleep" as investors were "duped".
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) told the Supreme Court that it was not investigating the Adani Group since 2016 as claimed. The probe pertained to the issuance of Global Depository Receipts (GDRs) by 51 Indian firms and no listed company of the Adani Group was among them, it said.
The fresh rejoinder affidavit was filed by the market regulator before a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud which adjourned to Tuesday the hearing on PILs and a separate plea of the SEBI seeking extension of six months to complete a probe into allegations of stock price manipulation by the Adani Group.
Reacting to the development, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh tweeted, "The Minister of State for Finance, Pankaj Chaudhary, told the Lok Sabha on 19th July 2021 that SEBI was investigating the Adani Group. Now SEBI tells the Supreme Court that they have not been investigating any of the serious allegations against Adani!"
"Which is worse -- misleading Parliament, or being fast asleep as lakhs of investors are duped by alleged money-laundering and round-tripping using offshore shell companies? Or even worse, was there a restraining hand from above?" he said, sharing a copy of the minister's reply in Parliament.
To a question by TMC MP Mahua Moitra as to whether Adani entities were under investigation by SEBI, Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for suspicious transactions, the minister had said, "Yes Ma'am. SEBI is investigating some Adani Group companies with regard to compliance with SEBI Regulations. Further, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is investigating certain entities belonging to the Adani Group of Companies under laws administered by it."
"As far as investigation under Income Tax Act, 1961 is concerned, disclosure of information regarding specific taxpayer is prohibited except as provided under Section 138 of Act. No such investigation is going on in the Enforcement Directorate," the minister had said in the reply.
The SEBI, in its fresh affidavit, said the "investigation" referred to in the earlier reply affidavit has "no relation and/or connection to the issues referred to and/or arising out of the Hindenburg report... The matter referred to in paragraph 5 pertains to the issuance of Global Depository Receipts (GDRs) by 51 Indian listed companies in respect of which investigation was conducted. However, no listed company of Adani group was part of the aforesaid 51 companies. Pursuant to completion of investigation, appropriate actions were taken in this matter."
The Congress has been demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the allegations against the Adani Group by US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research. The Adani Group has dismissed the allegations as baseless.
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