2002 Amendment to Section 26 of SEBI Act is retrospective in nature; All offences committed before 29.10.2002 will stand vested in the new forum

Supreme Court: In the case where it was argued that for offences allegedly committed under Section 26(2) of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 before 29.10.2002 (whether or not, taken up for trial before 29.10.2002) the trial was to be conducted by the concerned Metropolitan Magistrate (or, a Judicial Magistrate of the first class), and none other in light of the 2002  amendment, the bench of JS Khehar, CJ and Arun Mishra, J held that Section 26, as amended through ‘the 2002 Amendment Act’, leaves no room for any doubt, that the erstwhile ‘forum’ would cease to be the adjudicatory authority and the newly created ‘forum’ – the Court of Session, would deal with all pending matters as well.

The Court said that the ‘forum’ for trial earlier vested in the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate (-or, Judicial Magistrate of the first class) was retrospectively amended, inasmuch as, the ‘forum’ of trial after ‘the 2002 Amendment Act’ was retrospectively changed to the Court and hence, the trials even in respect of offences allegedly committed before 29.10.2002, whether in respect whereof trial had or had not been initiated, would stand jurisdictionally vested in a Court of Session. It was held that the court having jurisdiction earlier, being a court inferior to a Court of Session ceased to have the jurisdiction to adjudicate matters punishable under ‘the SEBI Act’, after the amendment under ‘the 2002 Amendment Act’ came into force.

Rejecting the contention that the action of transfer of pending matters from the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate (or, Judicial Magistrate of the first class), to the Court of Session (consequent upon ‘the 2002 Amendment Act’) and thereafter, to the Special Court (consequent upon ‘the 2014 Amendment Act’), was liable to be treated as prospective, failing which the accused will be deprived of the important right of revision vested in him, the Court said that when the remedy of revision is considered as not a right of an accused, at all, the absence of the remedy of revision cannot be considered as deprivation of a right. [SEBI v. Classic Credit Ltd., 2017 SCC OnLine SC 961, decided on 21.08.2017]

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