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Delays likely in SAT cases as key post falls vacant in December

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Delays in cases pending with the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) are looming as the presiding officer of the tribunal is set to retire early next month. Justice Tarun Agarwala, the presiding officer and judicial member of the SAT, is expected to retire in December. This retirement may lead to a lack of a judicial member on the tribunal’s bench which coupled with the fact that Section 15L of the SEBI Act, 1992 prescribes the composition of the SAT providing that every bench must include one judicial officer.
 
The vacancy could have a significant impact on several pending cases before the tribunal, including appeals filed by companies like Reliance Industries Limited, Bombay Dyeing, Limited, and Kotak Mutual Fund. In such an event, if an entity requires emergency relief from SEBI, it will need to approach higher courts, which typically have longer processing times than SAT since SAT is a specialized body focused on hearing securities market appeals.
 
In the 2017 budget, the government proposed the creation of additional benches for SAT to expedite case resolutions. Currently, the tribunal operates with a single bench in Mumbai, but the proposed changes have not been implemented yet.
 
In this background, LiveMint has featured an article discussing how the absence of the only judicial member in the SAT will affect the smooth functioning of SAT.
 
The article features views of Mr. Sumit Agrawal, Managing Partner, Regstreet Law Advisors and former SEBI officer, who observed that, “This is indeed a pressing issue. The absence of a designated judicial successor not only escalates the backlog of cases but also bears consequences for foreign investment. SAT holds jurisdiction over cases involving entities such as SEBI, stock exchanges, depositories, IRDAl, and PFRDA on a nationwide scale. Therefore, ensuring a swift and clear resolution in this matter is of paramount importance, serving the best interests of investors, policyholders, and pension funds”.
 
The LiveMint article also carried the views of Mr. Ravishekhar Pandey of MDP & Partners. Partners, Advocates & Solicitors.
 
Securities law enthusiasts will recall that May of 2021 the SAT had to rule on the issue of validity of its own composition when the bench was presided only by two judicial members and some respondents including SEBI had question the composition of the bench while relying on the provisio to Section 15L(2)(b) which provided that a bench shall constitute of one judicial member and one technical member.
 
Readers are welcome to send their views to Regstreet Law Advisors at info@regstreetlaw.com
 
 A copy of the LiveMint article is enclosed below and also accessible at: Delays likely in SAT cases as key post falls vacant in December

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