India’s stock markets are booming, with the BSE Sensex touching new highs. The regulation of securities markets has evolved over the last two and a half decades since the setting up of the Securities and Exchange Board of India, but it is still a work in progress. Front-running, insider trading, shady accounting practices that are tantamount to window-dressing firms’ performance, and other shenanigans to manipulate share prices continue. A panel headed by T.K. Viswanathan, a former Lok Sabha Secretary General, has now submitted recommendations to curb illegal practices in the markets and ensure fair conduct among investors. A key recommendation is that the stock market watchdog be granted the power to act directly against “perpetrators of financial statements fraud”. In essence, this means SEBI can act not only against listed entities under its extant powers but also against those who aid or abet financial fraud — including accountants and auditors. The panel has suggested that SEBI, rather than the Central government, be given the power to grant immunity to whistle-blowers who help uncover illegal activities. It has mooted new ideas to address market manipulation, from better scrutiny of price-sensitive information to the creation of processes to expedite investigation into cases. It goes to the extent of recommending that SEBI be given powers to tap phone calls.