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Financial Regulatory Regime: Legal Milestones Financial Year 2020-21 And A Look Ahead

14 Apr 2021

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The financial year 2020–21 put the securities and financial markets in India under an unprecedented stress test. Reacting proactively, the financial services regulators introduced measures not only to manage and curtail risks, but also to boost investor confidence. This update summarises some of these developments along with our expectations for the year ahead.


With COVID-19 reaching Indian shores in early 2020, the financial year (FY) 2020-21 passed addressing short and long-term consequences of the pandemic. The challenges of the pandemic, including the lockdown and social distancing norms, did not slow down regulatory action and securities market litigation, with virtual hearings replacing the traditional in-person proceedings.

The financial services regulators of the country, including the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), remained proactive in terms of policy decision making, as well as enforcement. As crude oil prices crashed in the US and dipped into red, the ripples were felt in the commodities market in India, a situation which the Indian market had neither contemplated nor was prepared for. The settlement on the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX) based on these negative values created a furore but was addressed by SEBI thereafter.

On the governance front, the implementation of the segregation of roles of the chairman and the MD/ CEO in listed companies, which was earlier slated to come into force in April 2020, has been deferred for another two years. Further, disclosure norms for listed entities were expanded to include initiation of forensic audit (along with the other relevant details), as well as final forensic audit report (other than for forensic audit initiated by regulatory/enforcement agencies) along with comments from the management of the listed entity.

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