The Ministry of Home Affairs had issued an order dated 24 March 2020 (“MHA Circular”) setting out the measures to be taken by the Government (state, central and union territory) and Government authorities for containment of COVID-19 epidemic. The MHA Circular required all commercial and private establishments to be closed during the COVID-19 lockdown. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) via its circular dated 24 March 2020 (“SEBI Circular”) notified that capital and debt market services shall be exempted from such closure and shall continue to function during the lockdown. Thereby, recognized stock exchanges, recognized clearing corporations, depositories, custodians, mutual funds, stock brokers, asset management companies, trading members, clearing members, depositories participants, registrar and share transfer agents, credit rating agencies, debenture trustees, foreign portfolio investors, portfolio managers, investment advisers, alternate investment funds (“AIFs”) and any other entities and regulated activities as notified by SEBI were excepted from closure as was required pursuant to the MHA Circular.
The SEBI Circular was initially notified for a period of 21 days from 25 March 2020. Post the first extension of the COVID-19 lockdown, SEBI, vide a notification dated 1 May 2020, extended the exemption for capital and debt market services to 3 May 2020. Now pursuant to extension of the lockdown, SEBI has issued a circular dated 3 May 2020 which extends the said exemption for 2 weeks from 4 May 2020. The circular dated 3 May 2020 can be accessed here.