Around 19 Sensex blue chips, including Mahindra and Mahindra, Hindustan Unilever, State Bank of India, Coal India, Wipro, Hero Motocorp, ICICI Bank, Cipla and L&T have been 'quizzed' by stock exchanges in the last one-and-ahalf months for the 'sudden' surge in their share prices and trading volumes.
Beyond Sensex companies, at least, 100 such notices have been issued so far in 2015. These include Pipavav Defence, Suzlon Energy, Claris Life, IDFC, Adani Enterprises, IPCA Labs, REI Agro, MRF, Punj Lloyd, Blue Dart, PVR, IRB Infra and Piramal Enterprises.
Such 'clarifications' have also been sought on news articles published about them about key business developments with implications for share prices without first informing investors at large through the stock exchange platform, as mandated by the regulations.
In most cases, it has been observed that the companies either delay their responses to the notices issued by the stock exchanges or their replies have not been satisfactory and limited to pro-forma sentences like 'we are not aware about the issue or we do not comment on speculations'.
The exchanges have flagged these cases for further action by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). Further investigation by the regulator and exchanges have also showed that 'speculative' news reports in many cases have come true at a later stage, which has been within a day or two in a few instances, despite the concerned companies having denied any knowledge about any such developments while replying to the clarificatory notices. At least two major PR agencies are also under scanner for selective leak of information that could benefit a few.
In FY14, Sebi took 'soft action' in more than 50 cases while an equal number of cases were subjected to adjudication.