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Sebi board trying to solve issues that dampened employee morale

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-05-2017 Jayshree P. Upadhyay

Mumbai: The board of Securities and Exchange Board India (Sebi), under the chairmanship of Ajay Tyagi, is attempting to bridge the divide that had emerged between the board and its employees by addressing concerns around issues that had dampened employee morale, two people familiar with the development said.

The two most contentious issues are the appointment of employees as executive directors and external inquiries related to actions taken by them in official capacity. 

The number of inquiries have risen to such a level that one in 10 Sebi employees is facing scrutiny from agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation and income tax department.

According to one of the two people cited earlier, SEA (Sebi Employee Association) in a recent meeting with whole time member G. Mahalingam highlighted the need for an institutional mechanism, where the vigilance department acts as the nodal agency to address external agency inquiries. 

“The Sebi board is mulling on having such a mechanism. In the meantime to address the past queries, Sebi officer will have the support of Sebi as an institution through the chief vigilance officer (CVO) to draft replies for investigative agencies,” said the second person, on condition of anonymity. 

“If a CVO is helping draft replies, then he would have already examined the queries raised by the investigative agency from corruption and procedural lapses stand-point,” said the first person.

Additionally, to avoid unnecessary queries, Sebi board is devising a comprehensive file noting system. “Even though blanket immunisation from investigative actions is not possible, Sebi officers need to be allowed to take a fair judgement call on what action to take,” said Sandeep Parekh, Founder, Finsec Law Advisors.

SEA had approached the Bombay high court against Sebi’s policy of hiring external candidates at ED level in February 2016, citing lack of professional growth impacting employee morale. 

The court dismissed the appeal stating that Sebi regulations give the regulator the power to hire external candidates. SEA office bearers were planning to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

To avoid the stand-off, the regulator in a recent board meeting approved a proposal to amend Sebi employee regulations. “The board has now cleared a proposal that internal EDs would be 2/3 and external 1/3 of the nine ED posts. Earlier half of the appointments at the level of EDs were reserved for external candidates which hampered professional growth for officials who grew with Sebi,” said the first person.

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