High court seeks reply from SEBI for tracking call records
The Bombay High Court has asked SEBI to file its reply on a PIL filed by Indian Council of Investors. The PIL alleged that SEBI is seeking CDRs of 2,327 subscribers from telephone companies without any authority or permission
The Bombay High Court has asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to file within three weeks its reply for seeking call data records (CDRs) of 2,327 subscribers from various telecom operators.
Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Indian Council of Investors, the HC on 3 April 2013 directed SEBI to file its reply within three weeks. The PIL filed in March, seeks to restrain SEBI from asking for CDR data from telephone companies.
Under the Indian Telegraph Act, only certain specific law enforcement agencies are authorised by the ministry of home affairs for interception, monitoring as well as collection of CDRs and SEBI does not figure in the list of such authorised agencies. "However, SEBI has been continuously and frequently asking for CDRs from telecom operators in the past also having no legal authority to do so,” the PIL stated.
Earlier in November 2012, finance minister P Chidambaram had said that the government was arranging for SEBI getting access to CDRs of people being probed by the market regulator in specific cases. He, however, made it clear that SEBI would not get powers to directly tap phone calls.
The PIL alleged that SEBI has been seeking CDRs since 2009 but several agencies like Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had turned down the request.
The market regulator also declined to provide details of CDRs it was seeking when an activist filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. On 21 September 2010, SEBI's Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) refused to provide the information citing it as “strategic information”, which is exempted from the RTI disclosures, the PIL said.
SEBI's First Appellate Authority (FAA), however, directed the CPIO to provide the information. On 7 December 2010, the CPIO informed the applicant that SEBI had sought CDRs of 13 numbers and out of this, it was waiting for CDRs of five numbers from telephone services providers. After another application under the RTI, the CPIO admitted that SEBI was seeking CDRs of 2,327 subscribers.
After this reply, the Indian Council of Investors filed a PIL in the high court.
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