The ongoing investigations against former NSE chief Chitra Ramkrishna have brought to light another instance of possible impropriety at the country’s largest stock exchange.

Some time prior to 2008, two SEBI officials had gone to NSE after brokers made several complaints to the market regulator that they had problems in receiving price feeds from the NSE and the BSE. The brokers told SEBI that while BSE had responded to their complaints and resolved the issue, the NSE had not responded for hours.

Following such complaints SEBI officials rushed to NSE, which is just a stone’s throw away from the SEBI office, to check as to why the exchange officials were incommunicado as the matter required urgent attention. The officials were taken to a room but they soon realised that they were locked inside. “The officials waited for hours. and even tried reaching Ramkrishna but she never answered their calls,” a former SEBI official told Business Line. 

The officials then alerted the then SEBI Chairman M Damodaran who immediately dispatched Manas Ray, an IRS officer on deputation to SEBI, to rescue the officials stuck at the NSE. “Ray was sent to handle the situation due to his past experience in the income tax department. He was told by NSE officials that they did not know how the doors got locked automatically from the outside while they were preparing the responses sought by the investigating SEBI officers.,” said a source.

“After the officials were rescued, Damodaran immediately summoned both Ravi Narain, then CEO and MD, and Ramkrishna then Deputy MD, to his office and disciplined them,” said the source close to the happenings in SEBI then.

Damodaran’s term as SEBI chief ended a few months after the infamous incident. Interestingly, towards the end of his term, he took a position against hot money instruments called P-Notes.

Both Ramkrishna and Narain did not respond to phone calls for this story.