What is SEBI or the Securities and Exchange Board of India

A comprehensive overview of SEBI, including its definition, functions, and powers.
What is SEBI or the Securities and Exchange Board of India
3 mins
04 December 2023

SEBI stands for the Securities and Exchange Board of India. It is a statutory regulatory body established by the Government of India in 1992 to protect the interests of investors investing in securities, along with regulating the securities market.

SEBI's regulatory authority extends to various segments of the financial market, including stock exchanges, mutual funds, portfolio managers, investment advisers, and other intermediaries. It plays a pivotal role in monitoring and regulating market activities, ensuring compliance with regulations, and taking corrective measures in case of any violations.

History of SEBI

The establishment of SEBI marked a significant milestone in the history of the securities market, as it aimed to bring about comprehensive reforms in the capital market and ensure clarity and investor protection.

Before the formation of SEBI, the regulation of the securities market in India was primarily overseen by the Controller of Capital Issues (CCI). However, with the changing dynamics of the financial landscape and the need for a more independent and specialised regulatory body, SEBI was created.

SEBI was granted autonomous powers through the SEBI Act of 1992, allowing it to regulate and supervise the securities market in a comprehensive manner. It has undergone several reforms and enhancements over the years to adapt to the evolving financial landscape. It has introduced various regulations and guidelines to promote good governance, prevent market manipulation, and enhance investor confidence.

Objectives of SEBI

The primary objectives of SEBI include:

  1. Investor protection: SEBI's foremost objective is to safeguard the interests of investors in the securities market. It seeks to ensure that investors receive accurate and timely information about the securities they invest in and are protected from fraudulent and unfair trade practices.
  2. Regulation and development of the securities market: SEBI is entrusted with the responsibility of regulating and developing the securities market. It formulates regulations and guidelines that govern various market participants, such as stock exchanges, brokers, and listed companies, to promote fair and transparent practices.
  3. Prevention of insider trading: SEBI works towards preventing insider trading, a practice where individuals with access to non-public information use it to gain an unfair advantage in trading. SEBI's regulations on insider trading aim to maintain a level playing field for all market participants.
  4. Promotion of fair practices and code of conduct: SEBI promotes fair practices and a high standard of integrity in the securities market. It enforces a code of conduct for all market participants, fostering an environment where market activities are conducted ethically and transparently.
  5. Prohibition of fraudulent and unfair trade practices: SEBI is empowered to act against fraudulent and unfair trade practices in the securities market. It investigates and takes corrective measures to maintain market integrity and protect investors from market manipulations.
  6. Development of a secondary market: SEBI plays a crucial role in the development of the secondary market by introducing reforms and initiatives to enhance liquidity, transparency, and efficiency in trading. It works towards creating an environment conducive to the growth of the capital market.

Additional read: What is Demat Account

Organisational structure of SEBI

SEBI has over 20 departments, all of which are supervised by their respective department heads, which in turn are administered by a hierarchy in general. The regulatory body is managed by its members, which consist of the following:

  • The chairman is nominated by the Union Government of India.
  • Two members from the Union Finance Ministry.
  • One member from the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The remaining five members are nominated by the Union Government of India.

SEBI has its headquarters in Mumbai and has regional offices in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Ahmedabad, along with local offices in Jaipur and Bangalore, and offices at Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar, Patna, Kochi, and Chandigarh.

Functions of SEBI:

The SEBI performs a multitude of functions to achieve its overarching objectives of investor protection, market regulation, and the development of the securities market. The key functions include:

  1. Safeguarding the interests of Indian investors, while educating them about securities markets and their intermediaries.
  2. Facilitating the development and seamless functioning of the securities market.
  3. Regulating the business operations within the securities market.
  4. Providing a regulatory platform for portfolio managers, bankers, stockbrokers, investment advisers, merchant bankers, registrars, share transfer agents, and other market participants.
  5. Overseeing and regulating the responsibilities of depositors, credit rating agencies, custodians of securities, foreign portfolio investors, and other involved entities.
  6. Prohibiting fraudulent and unfair trade practices associated with the securities market.
  7. Monitoring company takeovers and acquisitions of shares.
  8. Ensuring the efficiency and contemporary relevance of the securities market through thorough research and developmental strategies.

Powers of SEBI:

SEBI wields a spectrum of powers that allow it to function effectively as a regulatory authority. These powers can be categorised into three broad classifications: quasi-judicial, quasi-executive, and quasi-legislative.

1. Quasi-judicial powers

Adjudication authority:

  • SEBI possesses quasi-judicial powers, allowing it to adjudicate on matters related to securities law violations.
  • It has the authority to conduct hearings, examine evidence, and pass orders, ensuring a fair and impartial resolution of disputes within the securities market.

Settlement proceedings:

  • SEBI has the power to facilitate settlement proceedings between parties involved in disputes.
  • Through consent orders, SEBI can bring about resolution and enforce compliance without resorting to prolonged legal processes.

2. Quasi-executive powers

Enforcement and implementation:

  • SEBI is vested with quasi-executive powers, enabling it to enforce compliance with securities laws and regulations.
  • The regulatory body can take actions such as imposing fines, penalties, and other measures to ensure market participants adhere to prescribed standards.

Conducting investigations:

  • SEBI has the authority to conduct investigations into potential violations of securities laws.
  • This quasi-executive power allows SEBI to gather information, inspect records, and take corrective measures to maintain market integrity.

3. Quasi-legislative powers

Rule-making authority:

  • SEBI possesses quasi-legislative powers, allowing it to formulate and promulgate rules and regulations for the securities market.
  • This authority enables SEBI to adapt to changing market dynamics and enact measures that foster fair, transparent, and efficient market practices.

Policy formulation:

  • SEBI has the power to formulate policies that guide the development and regulation of the securities market.
  • This quasi-legislative role positions SEBI as a dynamic institution capable of responding to emerging challenges and opportunities in the financial landscape.

Additional read: What is the difference between Demat and Trading account 

Important SEBI rules and guidelines

SEBI has several rules and guidelines that it has established to regulate the securities market in India. Some of the important ones are:

  1. SEBI (prohibition of insider trading) regulations, 2015: This regulation prohibits insider trading in securities and provides a framework for detecting and preventing insider trading.
  2. SEBI (listing obligations and disclosure requirements) regulations, 2015: This regulation lays down the listing obligations of companies that have listed their securities on stock exchanges in India. It also provides for the disclosure requirements that these companies must comply with.
  3. SEBI (substantial acquisition of shares and takeovers) regulations, 2011: This regulation provides for the acquisition of shares and takeovers of companies listed on stock exchanges in India. It lays down the procedures and disclosures that must be followed by acquirers and target companies.
  4. SEBI (issue of capital and disclosure requirements) regulations, 2018: This regulation lays down the disclosure requirements for companies that issue capital and provides a framework for the issuance of securities by these companies.
  5. SEBI (prohibition of fraudulent and unfair trade practices) regulations: This regulation prohibits fraudulent and unfair trade practices in securities and provides a framework for detecting and preventing such practices.
  6. SEBI (mutual fund) regulations, 1996: This regulation lays down the guidelines for the functioning of mutual funds in India. It provides for the registration and regulation of mutual funds, as well as the obligations of mutual funds and their Asset Management Companies.
  7. SEBI (issue of capital and disclosure requirements) regulations, 2018: This regulation lays down the disclosure requirements for companies that issue capital and provides a framework for the issuance of securities by these companies.
  8. SEBI (buyback of securities) regulations, 2018: This regulation provides for the buyback of securities by companies listed on stock exchanges in India. It lays down the procedures and disclosures that must be followed by companies that wish to buy back their securities.
  9. SEBI (credit rating agencies) regulations, 1999: This regulation provides for the registration and regulation of credit rating agencies in India. It lays down the eligibility criteria for credit rating agencies, the obligations of credit rating agencies, and the procedures for rating securities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, SEBI's unique and innovative approach to its functions and powers reflects its commitment not only to meet current regulatory needs but also to anticipate and address future challenges in the dynamic world of securities trading.

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Frequently asked questions

When was SEBI established?

SEBI, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, is a statutory regulatory body established on April 12, 1992.

What is the full form of SEBI?

SEBI’s full form is Securities and Exchange Board of India

Why was SEBI formed?

It was formed to regulate the securities market and protect the interests of investors.

What is the role of SEBI in the Indian financial system?

SEBI plays a crucial role in the Indian financial system by regulating the securities market, ensuring transparency, and protecting investors’ interests. It also regulates the functioning of stockbrokers, sub-brokers, portfolio managers, and other intermediaries in the securities market.

What is the importance of SEBI in the financial market?

SEBI’s importance in the financial market lies in its ability to maintain a fair and transparent market, which is essential for the growth of the economy.

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