Make public NSE inquiry report in brokerage firm operations: CIC

New Delhi: The inquiry reports of National Stock Exchange (NSE) in the alleged defaults by a brokerage firm should be made public, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has told the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), reports PTI.

The transparency panel rejected the arguments put forth by SEBI that making these records public would impede investigations and that the information is third party hence exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act.

The case relates to information sought by one Swati Mayekar on the inspection of the clearing operations of SMC Global Securities Ltd (F&O segment) conducted by NSE in December 2008.

SEBI in its RTI reply, has said, "The observations made during the inspection of SMC and its reply, were placed before the Disciplinary Action Committee (DAC) of the exchange.

DAC decided that a broad-based audit be conducted by independent external auditor of SMC."

But the market regulator refused to give any details about the NSE inspection report and also audit by external agencies saying it was about a third party's business transaction and disclosure would impede the ongoing investigations.

Ms Mayekar, however, said the disclosure was in the larger public interest hence information should be made public.

"If the averment of the respondents (SEBI) that all such enquiry reports should be withheld from disclosure as these might contain commercial and business related information of the broker or brokerage firm investigated by the stock exchange or SEBI, is accepted, no wrongdoing of the brokers would ever be known to the investors-the very victims of the broker's wrongdoings," Chief Information Commissioner A N Tiwari said.

Mr Tiwari said withholding of such information will also prevent the vast number of investors from knowing or may be appreciating how SEBI, as capital market regulator, safeguards their interest in given situations against brokers.

"It is unclear from the statements made before me as to how disclosure of the information as requested by the appellant would impede the process of the enquiry. The reference of the respondents to Section 8(1)(h) to withhold the disclosure of information was, therefore, untenable.

"Their claiming that they held the enquiry report submitted to them by the stock exchange in fiduciary relationship is equally unconvincing and is rejected," he said in the order.


CBI files fresh status report on 2G spectrum probe

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today filed a fresh status report in the Supreme Court on its ongoing investigation into the second generation (2G) spectrum scam allegedly involving former telecom minister A Raja, responding to posers by the judges and explaining in detail the nature of the probe, reports PTI.

Sources said that the report filed in sealed cover before a bench comprising justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly gives details about the probe since the registration of an FIR against unknown persons on 21st October, last year. The agency has given "replies to the concerns of the court raised till the last hearing on Thursday," they said.

"There are also replies to the concerns expressed by the judges on Thursday. So many comments were made by the judges and the status report will seek to clear the air," they said.

The apex court on 25th November (Thursday) wanted to know from the CBI why it had not questioned Mr Raja and his private secretary and had said the agency was "beating around the bush" when "illegality is prima facie evident."

The sources said that the status report given to two judges in separate sealed covers explains the nature of investigation done on the basis of massive amount of documents and several hours of tapes containing national and international trails.

"The investigation has dimensions, both in India and abroad," they said, adding that the details have been submitted in sealed covers because any reliance on the contents in open court will gravely prejudice the investigation.

"The names of the individuals and companies associated with the scam have been investigated," they said.

The report has made it clear that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report projecting that the 2G spectrum allocation scam has caused a loss of Rs1.76 lakh crore to the state exchequer was based on the documents submitted by the CBI in 2009.

"Since then there has been much additional material which the CBI is only privy to," the sources said.

The first report filed by the CBI to the court was returned to the agency by the bench which had asked it file a comprehensive report.

The hearing in the case will resume on Tuesday.


TRAI to impose hefty penalties on unwanted calls from Tuesday

New Delhi: In a move that will give major relief to millions of subscribers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will tomorrow announce new guidelines to curb the menace of unsolicited calls by imposing hefty penalties on errant telemarketing firms and operators, reports PTI.

Besides hefty penalties, telemarketing firms would be allotted a separate series of numbers beginning with '700' that would allow subscribers to recognise their calls and decide whether to accept or reject them.

According to sources, TRAI has proposed to impose a penalty of up to Rs2 lakh on telemarketing firms against whom complaints have been received six times, before blocking the number, while service providers that violate mobile users' 'do not call' instructions four times face a fine of up to Rs10 lakh.

It will be the responsibility of both telemarketing firms, as well as service providers, to ensure that subscribers who have opted for not getting such calls are not harassed by telemarketers, as per the new TRAI guidelines.

"We will bring out the regulations on unsolicited calls tomorrow," TRAI sources said.

TRAI had released a consultation paper titled, "Review of Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulations", in May this year.

Unsolicited commercial communications are one of the growing concerns of telecom consumers worldwide.

The government had earlier formed a "National Do Not Call" (NDNC) Registry in 2007. However, consumers continued to complain about unsolicited commercial communications by way of calls, as well as SMSes.

Sources said that as per the revised recommendations, TRAI has proposed a fine of Rs25,000 for the first offence by a telemarketing company, which would go up to Rs75,000 in case of a second violation, Rs80,000 for the third, Rs1.25 lakh for the fourth, Rs1.50 lakh for the fifth and Rs2 lakh for the sixth offence, following which the number will be blocked by all service providers.

All telemarketing companies will have to submit security deposits with the service providers in advance.

Similarly, the service providers would also be subject to hefty penalties ranging from up to Rs1 lakh for the first offence to up to Rs10 lakh for the fourth offence.


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