Rajya Sabha passes Sebi amendment

The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed a Bill, which seeks to broaden the criterion for appointment of presiding officer of the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT). SAT is a legal body that adjudicates on appeals against orders passed by Sebi.

As per the current norm, only a serving or retired Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of a High Court can head the Tribunal, but according to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Amendment) Bill, 2013, a retired or serving High Court judge having held the position for seven years can be appointed to head the Tribunal.

The Bill, passed by voice vote, paves way for appointment of SAT chief, a post lying vacant for over a year.

Introducing the Bill, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the government was unable to find a suitable judge who was willing to take up the position and hence "may have to settle now with a senior judge of the High Court".

“We have been trying to find a suitable judge. Unfortunately, despite best efforts of the Chief Justice, we are not able to find a suitable candidate to fill the vacancy ... It is a very important tribunal. I will still try to find a person of the first criterion,” he said.

 He said the  government will continue to make efforts to fill the vacancy as per the first criterion of a retired or sitting Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of a High Court.

Chidambaram said even though the SAT was without a presiding Officer, its functioning was not held up. He said, “This is a technical subject dealing with capital markets and only a judge who has dealt with commercial and capital market law will be comfortable to deal with the matters coming up before the Tribunal.”

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