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Dark fibre case: SAT quashes Sebi's order on NSE and ex-officials
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    Dark fibre case: SAT quashes Sebi's order on NSE and ex-officials

    14 August 2023

    The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) on Wednesday quashed an order issued against the National Stock Exchange (NSE), its former managing director Chitra Ramakrishna, and other former executives issued in a matter related to internet infrastructure to get faster connectivity to its co-location facilities (colo) — popularly referred to as the dark fibre case.

    In April 2019, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) slapped heavy penalties alleging preferential treatment by NSE to two brokers -- Way2Wealth Brokers and GKN Securities -- for facilitating the laying of cables to provide latency advantage.

    The tribunal concluded that no preferential treatment was granted and there was no intentional negligence on the part of the NSE by waiving physical inspection of the office site of Way2Wealth.

    “Therefore, finding of collusion and / or fraud on the part of NSE in the given circumstances cannot be sustained,” noted Justice Tarun Agarwala in the order.

    The tribunal, however, affirmed that there was lack of due diligence and negligence by NSE in not verifying the license of Sampark Infotainment, an unauthorised service provider whose services were used by the two brokers.

    The tribunal also directed Sebi to refund Rs 62.58 crore along with interest to NSE within four weeks along with giving relief to the exchange from depositing the revenues from colocation facility in an escrow account

    The SAT quashed the Sebi order debarring Ramakrishna from holding any key position for three years.

    While granting relief to Ramakrishna, the tribunal said that the measure to be adopted by Sebi is to be remedial and not punitive. It added that her debarment was not ‘remedial in nature’.

    The tribunal has set aside the disgorgement order on Way2Wealth Brokers and GKN Securities in the same matter.

    It also considered one-year debarment from taking new clients and restriction for two years on taking trades in property accounts as appropriate.