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SEBI - A brief introduction

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) was established by the Government of India in 1988 through an executive resolution, and later upgraded as a fully autonomous body (a statutory Board) in the year 1992 with the passing of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act (SEBI Act) on 30th January 1992. In place of Government Control, a statutory and autonomous regulatory board with defined responsibilities, to cover both development & regulation of the market, and independent powers have been set up. Government decided to give it statutory status after Securities Scam of 1990-91.

The basic objectives of the Board were identified as:

  • to protect the interests of investors in securities;
  • to promote the development of Securities Market;
  • to regulate the securities market and
  • for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
SEBI has introduced the comprehensive regulatory measures, prescribed registration norms, the eligibility criteria, the code of obligations and the code of conduct for different intermediaries like, bankers to issue, merchant bankers, brokers and sub-brokers, registrars, portfolio managers, credit rating agencies, underwriters and others. It has framed bye-laws, risk identification and risk management systems for Clearing houses of stock exchanges, surveillance system etc. which has made dealing in securities both safe and transparent to the end investor.

Another significant event is the approval of trading in stock indices (like S&P CNX Nifty & Sensex) in 2000. A market Index is a convenient and effective product because of the following reasons:
  • It acts as a barometer for market behavior;
  • It is used to benchmark portfolio performance;
  • It is used in derivative instruments like index futures and index options;
  • It can be used for passive fund management as in case of Index Funds.

Two broad approaches of SEBI is to integrate the securities market at the national level, and also to diversify the trading products, so that there is an increase in number of traders including banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, mutual funds, primary dealers etc. to transact through the Exchanges. In this context the introduction of derivatives trading through Indian Stock Exchanges permitted by SEBI in 2000 AD is a real landmark.

SEBI appointed the L. C. Gupta Committee in 1998 to recommend the regulatory framework for derivatives trading and suggest bye-laws for Regulation and Control of Trading and Settlement of Derivatives Contracts. The Board of SEBI in its meeting held on May 11, 1998 accepted the recommendations of the committee and approved the phased introduction of derivatives trading in India beginning with Stock Index Futures. The Board also approved the "Suggestive Bye-laws" as recommended by the Dr LC Gupta Committee for Regulation and Control of Trading and Settlement of Derivatives Contracts.

SEBI then appointed the J. R. Verma Committee to recommend Risk Containment Measures (RCM) in the Indian Stock Index Futures Market. The report was submitted in november 1998.

However the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 (SCRA) required amendment to include "derivatives" in the definition of securities to enable SEBI to introduce trading in derivatives. The necessary amendment was then carried out by the Government in 1999. The Securities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 1999 was introduced. In December 1999 the new framework was approved.

Derivatives have been accorded the status of `Securities'. The ban imposed on trading in derivatives in 1969 under a notification issued by the Central Government was revoked. Thereafter SEBI formulated the necessary regulations/bye-laws and intimated the Stock Exchanges in the year 2000. The derivative trading started in India at NSE in 2000 and BSE started trading in the year 2001.

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