That the special tribunal formed to deal with stock market-related cases has been sitting idle for nearly three years would surely surprise many.
With stories galore involving irregularities and manipulation in the capital market,it sounds quite abnormal that none has approached the tribunal, even with a single complaint during the last 35 months. There must be a few gaps that have kept the tribunal more or less non-functional.
The government established the special tribunal in 2012 as the relevant stakeholders wanted it for a smooth and expeditious trial of stock market-related cases. The creation of the tribunal was necessary since the normal courts remain preoccupied with other cases and they do not find time to deal with stock market-related cases. Besides, specialisation is necessary to handle equity-related cases. However, the government dragged its feet over making the tribunal operational through the appointment of the judge and relevant officials. In the middle part of 2015, the tribunal heard its first case.
As mentioned in a report published in this paper on Friday last, the tribunal handled a few cases since its formation until now. Most of the cases were about the 1996 share market scam. But the high court stayed nearly half of those cases. The securities regulator remains to be the key provider of cases to the special tribunal. That is the area where the problem lies. The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) needs to transfer enough cases to the tribunal to justify the latter's existence.
Looking at the situation prevailing now, one has reasons to believe that the jurisdiction of the tribunal has been kept very narrow. For instance, it does not enjoy the authority to deal with certificate cases. The BSEC files a good number of such cases with the lower courts. Any aggrieved investor does also enjoy the right to file cases against an errant listed company or brokerage house or relevant others.
If not that big, the government is spending some amount of public money every month on paying salaries to the functionaries, paying office rent and meeting other expenses for the tribunal. Not only is the taxpayers' money involved here but also an important area of concern remains virtually unaddressed. When other courts are overwhelmed with cases, apparently the special tribunal has no work.
Opting for litigation is not advisable. But a genuinely aggrieved person/organisation should be able to take recourse to legal measures. Bangladesh stock market is one place where manipulations are believed to be rampant. Manipulators, big and small, have always played their part in misguiding investors in the matters of prices of shares and company financials.
Lately, there have been measures to rein in manipulative activities. Yet manipulators are still very much active. So, the system of seeking legal redress concerning stock market issues needs to be strong and handy. Everybody expects the BSEC to play its part in ensuring that.