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Sebi seeks to distance itself from PIL on tobacco companies

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-06-2017 Jayshree P. Upadhyay

Mumbai: Markets regulator the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has sought to distance itself from a public interest litigation (PIL) that seeks the divestment of stake held by state-owned institutions in ITC Ltd and other tobacco companies.

At present Sebi is one of the respondents in the PIL along with insurance companies, the insurance regulator and the government of India.

In an affidavit filed on 13 June with the Bombay High Court Sebi said the petition did not seek any relief against it nor did it allege a Sebi role in the matter.

“Sebi is neither a necessary nor proper party for the present proceedings. Therefore, the answering respondent be directed to be deleted from the present proceedings,” Sebi said in the affidavit.

In a hearing on 23 June, the court granted an additional six weeks for the other parties to file their replies.

The petition was filed on 14 April by Tata Trustee R. Venkataramanan; Sumitra Pednekar— whose husband Satish Pednekar, a former home and labour minister in Maharashtra, died of throat cancer; Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck cancer specialist at Tata Memorial Hospital; Abhay Bang; Ashish Deshmukh, member of legislative assembly in Maharashtra; Prakash Gupta and Lakshman Sethuraman, who heads cancer infrastructure projects at Tata Trusts.

The petition argues that it does not make sense for the government, which is tackling health issues arising out of tobacco consumption, to directly or indirectly hold stake in ITC or any other firms in the tobacco business.

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