The first step towards introduction of derivatives trading in India was the promulgation of the Securities Laws(Amendment) Ordinance, 1995, which withdrew the prohibition on options in securities. The market for derivatives, however, did not take off, as there was no regulatory framework to govern trading of derivatives. SEBI set up a 24–member committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. L. C. Gupta on November 18, 1996 to develop appropriate regulatory framework for derivatives trading in India. The committee submitted its report on March 17, 1998 prescribing necessary pre–conditions for introduction of derivatives trading in India.
The committee recommended that derivatives should be declared as ‘securities’ so that regulatory framework applicable to trading of ‘securities’ could also govern trading of securities. SEBI also set up a group in June 1998 under the Chairmanship of Prof. J. R. Varma, to recommend measures for risk containment in derivatives market in India. The report, which was submitted in October 1998, worked out the operational details of margining system, methodology for charging initial margins, broker net worth, deposit requirement and real–time monitoring requirements.
The Securities Contract Regulation Act (SCRA) was amended in December 1999 to include derivatives within the ambit of ‘securities’ and the regulatory framework was developed for governing derivatives trading. The act also made it clear that derivatives shall be legal and valid only if such contracts are traded on a recognized stock exchange, thus precluding OTC derivatives. The government also rescinded in March 2000, the three– decade old notification, which prohibited forward trading in securities.