The Supreme Court on Monday directed Sebi to refund Rs 300 crore to the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in connection with a disgorgement order which had asked the bourse to deposit Rs 624.89 crore in the alleged co-location scam.
A bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice M.M. Sundresh also refrained from staying the impugned order passed by the Securities and Appellate Tribunal (SAT).
In January, the appellate body set aside the order passed in April 2019 by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).
Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul appearing for the NSE told The Telegraph that while the order for a refund of Rs 300 crore had been passed there is “no stay of the impugned order (SAT).”
“There is no stay at all,” Kaul clarified while allaying reports that the top court had stayed the order passed by the SAT.
The bench passed the interim direction for a refund of Rs 300 crore after hearing Kaul appearing for the NSE and senior advocate Arvind Datar for the Sebi.
The court was dealing with an appeal filed by the market regulator assailing the SAT order, which had held the Sebi direction as being “patently erroneous’’ since it did not find any unethical act or acts on the part of the NSE.
The SAT had also given a reprieve to Chitra Ramkrishna and Ravi Narain — both former MD and CEO of the NSE — when it set aside its direction that they disgorge 25 per cent of their salary for 2013-14 (Ramkrishna) and 2011-13 (Narain).
Further, the direction prohibiting them from associating with any listed company or a market infrastructure institution or any other market intermediary for five years was also set aside.
The case relates to alleged lapses in high-frequency trading offered through NSE’s co-location facility wherein some entities allegedly got preferential access. The co-location facility allowed stock brokers to take on rent-specific racks and co-locate their servers and systems within the exchange premises.
"NSE has not indulged in any unethical act nor has unjustly enriched itself as a result of any wrongful act. The direction to disgorge must be about any transaction or activity which is in contravention of the provisions of the Sebi Act,” the SAT order said.