TRADING on the Bombay stock exchange (BSE) resumed in a special session on Tuesday evening after a six-day closure. But even as the stockbroking community celebrated the resolution of the deadlock over the issue of tainted shares, there was puzzlement as to who had actually benefited from the decision of the Bombay High Court. The agreement, authenticated by Justice S.N. Variava of the Special Court, which was set up specially for this matter, envisages withdrawal of the attachment order on the shares of 17 companies - many of which are blue chips - after the income-tax department has certified the share transfer deeds. The process of certification is scheduled to start on October 25. The compromise formula states that the custodian with the income-tax department and the BSE authorities will initiate steps to trace the first person to acquire the shares before they were placed in the market. If it is found that the shares were sold to bona-fide investors, the attachment will be revoked. The tainted shares controversy surfaced about 14 months ago when the securities scam revelations were still coming hard and fast. At that time, it took a high-powered committee that included Finance Minister Manmohan Singh to settle the issue. The word ''tainted'' was applied to shares that had been held by brokers whose properties had been attached by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and then handed over to the custodian appointed to look after such properties. The essential solution was that ''clean shares'' - those shares that had been held by brokers but did not belong to them - had to be verified by the custodian, following the certification of the BSE. This would lead to the automatic lapsing of the attachment of the shares. Brokers were required to have their clean and tainted shares certified by the BSE board. The total amount of shares suspected as being involved in the benami - which translates as ''in others' names'' - deals was around 10 billion rupees (about HK$2 billion). But to date, barely 300 million rupees worth of shares have been cleared in the manner prescribed. Even as the process was going on, some 10 weeks ago the income-tax department seized some benami shares allegedly belonging to Harshad Mehta, A.D. Narottam and some of the other brokers involved in the scam. Mehta, the alleged central figure in the scam, made transactions on a massive scale. Having waited it out while the market plumbed the depths, he sold off in May and June when there was a temporary boom, and then again in late July. Brokers estimated his tainted shares had delivered a hefty 250 million rupees, with 140 million rupees going to Bombay brokers and 100 million rupees to those in Calcutta. As the income-tax sleuths moved in to investigate the full effect, trading was boycotted by agitated brokers. The income-tax department's intentions have been made clear. It did not want genuine investors to suffer at the hands of unscrupulous elements operating on the BSE. As one officer put it: ''We had two objectives: to protect the genuine investors and to book the crooks.'' Expressing similar sentiment, the senior executive director of the Securities and Exchange Board of India, C.B. Bhave, said: ''It is a genuine investor problem. We have to protect those who bought the shares in good faith without knowing of their disability.'' However, the final scenario in both cases looks frightening. A real fear is that the income-tax department will decide on clearing some of the attached shares of the so-called benami-holders, which they feel will take some time. In any case, what defines a bona-fide broker? As of now, there are about 100 benami-holder names, and some of them could have been genuine traders. It would be hard to separate the bogus from the genuine. So who was the victor in the tainted shares scandal? Not the brokers. Not the stock exchange. Not the income-tax department. Not even the investor, in whose name this war is being fought. If anything, Tuesday's decision in the Special Court was a hollow one.