SEBI director Dr Mohan Gopal, who co-authored the report on NSDL’s role in the 2006 IPO scam, has become incommunicado.
Why has Dr Mohan Gopal, director of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) gone silent? Dr Gopal, who heads the National Judicial Academy (NJA), headquartered at Bhopal, was the man who dropped a bombshell in March 2009 when he told The Times of India how SEBI had deliberately buried a negative report on the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL).
Dr Gopal was one of two members of a board committee which submitted a report on NSDL’s role in what is called the IPO scam of 2006. SEBI chairman CB Bhave was the chairman of NSDL when SEBI had initiated action against the depository for acts of commission and omission. All through 2009, it was Dr Mohan Gopal’s stance that finally forced the NSDL order into the public domain, albeit after a public interest litigation was filed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Again, it was due to Dr Gopal that the highly reputed Justice JS Varma offered a rare opinion on the actions of the SEBI board. Justice Varma said that the decision to declare two orders of the Gopal-Leeladhar bench as ‘non est’ violated ‘established legal and Constitutional principles’ and the orders could only be reviewed by a ‘judicial forum with requisite jurisdiction, at the instance of a petitioner’. However, with the staunch backing of the finance ministry, the SEBI board exonerated NSDL of all charges on 2 February 2010. The matter wasn’t supposed to end there. Dr Gopal had planned to resign even before the final board meeting, but held back in the hope that better sense would prevail at the SEBI board. After SEBI’s decision to throw out the Gopal-Leeladhar order, he was set to send in a detailed resignation letter exposing SEBI's autocratic actions.
A public interest litigation was to follow. But none of this happened. Three months are over. Strangely, Dr Gopal has not only gone completely silent about being slighted, but he hasn't even resigned from the SEBI board. He has merely refused to attend any board meetings. He remains incommunicado most of the times. After persistent inquiry, he tells us that he has been extremely busy at the NJA. Is he really too busy even for a one-line resignation from a board that humiliated him on all his actions? And is it fair to stay on and not attend meetings when his term extends until the end of this year? Sources say that powerful people in the government are responsible for Dr Gopal’s silence. He angrily denies this, but offers no other plausible explanation for his obvious about-turn either.— Sucheta Dalal