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Fresh complaints on same issue cannot extend time to file an appeal

Finsec Law Advisors

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In the matter of Mridula Bhandari v. Securities and Exchange Board of India, dated December 08, 2020, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) held that by filing successive complaints related to the same issue on the SCORES platform, the appellant could not extend her right to file an appeal before the SAT within the limitation period prescribed under the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 (SEBI Act) and the SAT (Procedural) Rules, 2020. Under the current regime, an appeal from an order of SEBI has to be filed within 45 days from the date on which a copy of the said order is received by the appellant.

In the present matter, on September 27, 2019, SEBI had disposed of a complaint filed on the SCORES platform wherein, the appellant had raised complaints against Hindustan Lever Ltd. (Company) for alleged non-transfer of 550 shares. Being aggrieved by the same, the appellant filed an appeal before the SAT. However, there was a delay of 110 days in filing the appeal and accordingly, an application for condonation of delay was filed by the appellant.

SAT observed that the appellant had first filed a complaint against the Company on the SCORES platform for non-transfer of shares on September 06, 2018. Thereafter, from October 11, 2018, to July 16, 2019, multiple complaints were filed by the appellant on the SCORES platform against the company concerning the same issue, all of which were disposed of by SEBI. In the order, SAT rightly observed that by filing a fresh complaint on the SCORES platform and getting a disposal order from SEBI, one cannot extend the limitation period available for challenging and raising an issue that has been decided earlier on the SCORES platform. The SAT opined that apart from an inordinate delay in filing the appeal by filing successive complaints on the same issue, the appellant had attempted to misuse the process of law and bypass the limitation period prescribed under the law to challenge an order passed by SEBI. For the above reasons, the SAT rejected the application for condonation of delay and dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant. This order is a reminder that one should not seek to obtain an undue advantage by attempting to sidestep the law.