Indian Financial Market: Stock Exchanges in India, Regulations of Stock Exchange and Role of SEBI

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Stock Exchanges in India

  • The first organised stock exchange in India was started in Mumbai known as Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). It was followed by Ahmedabad Stock Exchange in 1894 and Kolkata Stock Exchange in 1908. The number of stock exchanges in India went up to 7 by 1939 and it increased to 21 by 1945 on account of heavy speculation activity during Second World War. A number of unorganised stock exchanges also functioned in the country without any formal set-up and were known as kerb market. The Security Contracts (Regulation) Act was passed in 1956 for recognition and regulation of Stock Exchanges in India. At present we have 23 stock exchanges in the country. Of these, the most prominent stock exchange that came up is National Stock Exchange (NSE). It is also based in Mumbai and was promoted by the leading financial institutions in India. It was incorporated in 1992 and commenced operations in 1994. This stock exchange has a corporate structure, fully automated screen-based trading and nation-wide coverage.

  • Another stock exchange that needs special mention is Over the Counter Exchange of India (OTCEI). It was also promoted by the financial institutions like UTI, ICICI, IDBI, IFCI, LIC etc. in September 1992 specially to cater to small and medium sized companies with equity capital of more than Rs.30 lakh and less than Rs.25 crore. It helps entrepreneurs in raising finances for their new projects in a cost-effective manner. It provides for nationwide online ringless trading with 20 plus representative offices in all major cities of the country. On this stock exchange, securities of those companies can be traded which are exclusively listed on OTCEI only. In addition, certain shares and debentures listed with other stock exchanges in India and the units of UTI and other mutual funds are also allowed to be traded on OTCEI as permitted securities. It has been noticed that, of late, the turnover at this stock exchange has considerably reduced and steps have been afoot to revitalise it. In fact, as of now, BSE and NSE are the two Stock Exchanges, which enjoy nation-wide coverage and handle most of the business in securities in the country.

Regulations of Stock Exchanges

As indicated earlier, the stock exchanges suffer from certain limitations and require strict control over their activities in order to ensure safety in dealings thereon. Hence, as early as 1956, the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act was passed which provided for recognition of stock exchanges by the central Government. It has also the provision of framing of proper bylaws by every stock exchange for regulation and control of their functioning subject to the approval by the Government. All stock exchanges are required submit information relating to its affairs as required by the Government from time to time. The Government was given wide powers relating to listing of securities, make or amend bylaws, withdraw recognition to, or supersede the governing bodies of stock exchange in extraordinary/abnormal situations. Under the Act, the Government promulgated the Securities Regulations (Rules) 1957, which provided inter alia for the procedures to be followed for recognition of the stock exchanges, submission of periodical returns and annual returns by recognised stock exchanges, inquiry into the affairs of recognised stock exchanges and their members, and requirements for listing of securities.

Role of SEBI

As part of economic reforms programme started in June 1991, the Government of India initiated several capital market reforms, which included the abolition of the office of the Controller of Capital Issues (CCI) and granting statutory recognition to Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in 1992 for:

  • Protecting the interest of investors in securities.

  • Promoting the development of securities market.

  • Regulating the securities market; and

  • Matters connected there with or incidental thereto.

Image of role of SEBI

Image of Role of SEBI

SEBI has been vested with necessary powers concerning various aspects of capital market such as:

  • Regulating the business in stock exchanges and any other securities market.

  • Registering and regulating the working of various intermediaries and mutual funds.

  • Promoting and regulating self-regulatory organisations.

  • Promoting investors education and training of intermediaries.

  • Prohibiting insider trading and unfair trade practices.

  • Regulating substantial acquisition of shares and takeover of companies.

  • Calling for information, undertaking inspection, conducting inquiries and audit of stock exchanges, and intermediaries and self-regulation organisations in the stock market; and

  • Performing such functions and exercising such powers under the provisions of the Capital Issues (Control) Act, 1947 and the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 as may be delegated to it by the Central Government.

As part of its efforts to protect investors’ interests, SEBI has initiated many primary market reforms, which include improved disclosure standards in public issue documents, introduction of prudential norms and simplification of issue procedures. Companies are now required to disclose all material facts and risk factors associated with their projects while making public issue. All issue documents are to be vetted by SEBI to ensure that the disclosures are not only adequate but also authentic and accurate. SEBI has also introduced a code of advertisement for public issues for ensuring fair and truthful disclosures. Merchant bankers and all mutual funds including UTI have been brought under the regulatory framework of SEBI. A code of conduct has been issued specifying a high degree of responsibility towards investors in respect of pricing and premium fixation of issues. To reduce cost of issue, underwriting of issues has been made optional subject to the condition that the issue is not under-subscribed. In case the issue is under-subscribed i.e., it was not able to collect 90% of the amount offered to the public, the entire amount would be refunded to the investors.

As for measures in the secondary market, it should be noted that all statutory powers to regulate stock exchanges under the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act have now been vested with SEBI through the passage of securities law (Amendment) Act in 1995. SEBI has duly notified rules and a code of conduct to regulate the activities of intermediaries in the securities market and then registration in the securities market and then registration with SEBI is made compulsory. It has issued guidelines for composition of the governing bodies of stock exchanges so as to include more public representatives. Corporate membership has also been introduced at the stock exchanges. It has notified the regulations on insider trading to protect and preserve the integrity of stock markets and issued guidelines for mergers and acquisitions. SEBI has constantly reviewed the traditional trading systems of Indian stock exchanges and tried to simplify the procedure, achieve transparency in transactions and reduce their costs. To prevent excessive speculations and volatility in the market, it has done away with badla system, and introduced rolling settlement and trading in derivatives.

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