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New evidence casts further doubt on Sebi’s role in new SmartODR platform

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Vidhya Sivaramakrishnan

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Vidhya Sivaramakrishnan

24 reads

India’s stock exchanges and depositories—including the BSE and NSE—just rolled out a new, unified online dispute resolution (ODR) platform. Multiple ODR players, however, allege the process for selecting a vendor to build the platform was a charade. Now, new findings are adding heft to their claims.

August 16, 2023

14 MINS READ

Key Takeaways

On August 16, India’s market infrastructure institutions—including the Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange—rolled out a new online dispute resolution (ODR) platform

A group of ODR firms, however, contend that the manner in which the contract to build the platform was awarded was unfair

They claim that Sebi was the actual driving force behind the project, so it should have been subject to the government’s public procurement rules

MIIs and Sebi claim the latter wasn’t involved. Sources, however, point to emails, discussions, and past business ties to cast doubt on these claims

On July 12, The CapTable broke the story about allegations surrounding a new online dispute resolution (ODR) platform being implemented by India’s market infrastructure institutions, or MIIs. ODR firms allege that the platform was being created at the behest of markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). 

Consequently, the ODR firms argued, the contract to build the platform should have been done according to public procurement norms, something they claim didn’t happen. Instead, alleged ODR firms, the contract was unfairly awarded to Bengaluru-based Sama.

While the MIIs—India’s stock exchanges (NSE, BSE, MSEI, and MCX) and depositories (CDSL, NSDL)—were silent when The CapTable reached out for responses to these allegations, BSE and NSE later released a joint statement simply stating that “due processes” had been followed in vendor selection, and that Sebi had no hand in vendor selection.

Sebi, for its part, denied its involvement in the development of the ODR platform. This, despite Sebi suggesting in consultation papers that SCORES—its own dispute redressal system—be linked with the new platform.

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