The Supreme Court today raised tough questions against petitioners in the case linked to a report by a George Soros-funded group that targeted the Adani Group.
“Why must we take foreign reports as the truth? We are not rejecting the report, but we need proof. So what proof do you have against the Adani Group?” Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud told the petitioner’s lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
“A publication’s work can’t be treated as a gospel of truth,” Chief Justice Chandrachud said.
The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), funded by billionaire George Soros, had alleged insider trading in the Adani Group via two foreign investors. The Adani Group has called them “recycled allegations” and another concerted bid by Soros-funded interests supported by a section of the foreign media to revive the “meritless Hindenburg report”.
The capital markets regulator SEBI also dismissed the report as unreliable, coming from a “foreign non-profit (NGO)”.
“What will our agencies do if we act on such reports? There is a new trend of influencing Indian policies by foreign reports,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), told the Supreme Court.
SEBI said it contacted OCCRP for more information, but the George Soros-funded non-profit asked the regulator to get in touch with an NGO run by Prashant Bhushan.
“You appear in this so-called public interest litigation, get some report prepared and ask this without disclosing the source? I didn’t want to embarrass you. But this is conflict of interest,” Mr Mehta said.
On the Supreme Court’s direction, SEBI has been investigating whether any violation happened before and after the Hindenburg report came out. Mr Mehta said SEBI has completed looking into 22 of the 24 cases of suspected transactions, and information from agencies abroad is awaited for the remaining two.
The Supreme Court also demolished Prashant Bhushan’s line of argument that appeared to raise doubt on a court-appointed committee that looked into India’s regulatory mechanism to protect investors.
To Prashant Bhushan’s contention that some members of the expert committee have worked for the Adani Group, the Supreme Court said it had set up the panel and not Adani. “If a lawyer appeared for Adani in 2006, we can’t question him in 2023. It is unfair to raise doubt on the committee. Will an accused’s lawyer be never made a judge? You should be careful while making allegations. It is easy to accuse anyone,” the Chief Justice said.
The committee in its report submitted to the Supreme Court in May had given a clean chit to the Adani Group. It had said there was no regulatory failure on the part of SEBI, and no price manipulation on the part of the Adani Group and that the conglomerate had taken necessary steps to comfort retail investors amid severe market turmoil following the publication of the Hindenburg report.
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