The regulator had in September last year barred Pan Asia Advisors and Arun Panchariya from “rendering services in connection with instruments that are defined as securities in the Indian securities market or in any way dealing with them, with immediate effect”
Mumbai: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Tuesday confirmed its earlier directive barring Pan Asia Advisors and the firm’s promoter Arun Panchariya from dabbling in the securities market over their alleged involvement in manipulation of Global Depository Receipts, reports PTI.
“Arun Panchariya was prima facie found to have been connected with the entities involved in the alleged manipulation in one or the other way. Given this chain of events and circumstances, the preponderance of probability at this stage suggests the involvement of Pan Asia and Arun Panchariya in the alleged scheme of things...” SEBI said in an order.
“In view of the foregoing... hereby confirm the directions issued vide the ad interim ex-parte order dated 21 September 2011, against Pan Asia Advisors and Arun Panchariya in the matter of alleged market manipulation using GDR issues,” it said.
The regulator had in September last year barred Pan Asia Advisors and Arun Panchariya from “rendering services in connection with instruments that are defined as securities in the Indian securities market or in any way dealing with them, with immediate effect.”
The case relates to large scale off-market transactions in scrips of a few companies—IKF Technologies, Avon Corporation, CAT Technologies, Asahi Infrastructure and K Sera Sera.
SEBI was alerted that foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were converting the Global Depository Receipts underlying the shares of the companies held by them into equity shares to sell in the Indian market and most cancellations happened within a short period of time of their issue.
Some other distortions were also observed and SEBI had conducted an investigation into the matter.
Preliminary findings had pointed toward an elaborate scheme to manipulate trading in these securities. It was also found that Pan Asia was the manager or arranger to almost all of the issues and that the proceeds of the GDR issues were deposited in European American Investment Bank AG (Euram Bank), Austria.
SEBI’s September 2011 order was challenged by Mr Panchariya and Pan Asia before the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT).
SAT, while disposing of the appeal in November last year, had directed SEBI to pass a final order within four weeks on all issues raised by the appellants. However, Mr Panchariya and Pan Asia had sought additional time to file written submissions, which was granted.
Among other things, Mr Panchariya and Pan Asia had said that SEBI has no jurisdiction to pass an order against them.
While rejecting their submission, SEBI, in its order yesterday, said that “preponderance of probability at this stage suggests the involvement of Pan Asia and Arun Panchariya in the alleged scheme of things.”
With regard to the appellants claim that that they had no role to play in the alleged manipulation, the regulator, however, accepted that it is unable to consider the submission at this stage since its investigation into the matter is not yet complete.
“Considering the facts and circumstances and also the submissions made by the parties, SEBI shall expeditiously complete the investigation in the matter in the interest of justice and thereafter, shall immediately take appropriate actions in accordance with law,” it said.
Additional solicitor general AS Chandiok, representing DoT, told the tribunal bench headed by justice SB Sinha that TDSAT has no jurisdiction as it can only decide on a dispute between a licencee and licensor and the operators has no licence for 3G services
New Delhi: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Tuesday reserved the judgement on the government plea that the sectoral tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain petitions of operators challenging the government's directive to stop third generation (3G) roaming agreements, reports PTI.
After a day-long hearing, the TDSAT heard the submissions of the Department of Telecom (DoT) and five operators—Bharti, Vodafone, Idea, Tatas and Aircel on the issue.
Meanwhile, the telecom tribunal expressed the opinion that operators would have to give copies of agreements on 3G roaming to the DoT. However, it did not pass any order in this regard. Operators insisted that DoT would have to furnish an undertaking for maintaining confidentiality of their pacts.
TDSAT also gave a lifeline to private telecom operators by extending its interim order that restrained DoT from taking any coercive action against them. “Till further order, interim order of 24th December to continue,” it said.
During the proceedings, additional solicitor general AS Chandiok, representing DoT, told the tribunal bench headed by justice SB Sinha that TDSAT has no jurisdiction as it can only decide on a dispute between a licencee and licensor and the operators has no licence for 3G services.
“They must be a licence holder for 3G and if they do not have, then they fall out of your jurisdiction. They are asking for determination of contractual right, which is beyond jurisdiction,” said Mr Chandiok.
Referring to the recent Supreme Court judgment, he told TDSAT that “you (tribunal) have done so in 2006, on which the apex court had said no”.
DoT further added that a licencee (operator) cannot challenge the licence terms.
However, it was opposed by a battery of counsels led by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Sighvi, appearing for one of the operators, said Section 14 of the TRAI Act gives the tribunal power to adjudicate on such dispute.
In a such a scenario, TDSAT would be wound up as large chunk of the petitions would go out of window, he said wondering where the operators would go for such grievances.
“3G roaming is a permitted activity. DoT stopped it by saying (it is) illegal. Now where should operators go, Supreme Court or to the high court?” he asked.
Moreover, on the PIL going before the Delhi High Court on the same issue, Mr Singhvi said “the submissions are identical” and could be a camouflaged petition by DoT.
Passing an order on 24th December, the tribunal had directed the DoT not to take any coercive action against telecom operators.
A day prior to that the government had asked five telecom operators to stop their inter-circle roaming on 3G bandwidth within 24 hours and it was challenged by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Tele before TDSAT.
While the government at one end time and again attempts to deflate the Sunshine Act, at the other end harassment to RTI activists too never ceases
Deliberately under-staffing State Information Commissions (SICs); PIOs citing Section 8 with unfailing regularity as an excuse not to part with information; assaulting RTI activists; tarnishing their reputation are some of the ways being sought to deflate the RTI (Right to Information) Act.
Case I: Pankti Jog is a prominent member of the Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP), an Ahmedabad based RTI organisation, renowned for its helpline service that has facilitated thousands in the state to file RTI applications and get guidance in RTI related matters. MAGP’s mobile van service that spreads RTI awareness in villages has also helped in RTI literacy in the state.
Last week, she was accused of indirectly having terrorist links, as per the submission made by the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Department of Forest & Environment to the State Information Commission.
States Pankti, “`In one of my RTI applications filed with the Department Of Forest And Environment way back in 2009, I had sought copies of its communication with the ministry of environment and forest regarding permission given to a multi-national company for the expansion of its pipelines which would cut through the reserved forests of the treasured marine national park in Jamnagar district. I was surprised at the submission made by the PIO to the State Information Commission that, “if information is given to Pankti Jog then it could land in the hands of a terrorist, thus the info cannot be given.” Due to delay in reply, Pankti had filed a second appeal with the SIC which had asked the PIO to give reasons for not providing information.
According to Pankti, the PIO who denied her information for nearly two years argued before the SIC last week that blasts and terrorist attacks occured due to sensitive information made available to terrorists. Pankti, who amplified this unjustified stand taken by the PIO, went viral on email stating that, “I think I have to tell the government …my name is Pankti and I am not a terrorist…” The result? The PIO retracted his statement. The matter will come for hearing before the SIC early next week.
However, it is important to understand that information relating to a powerful MNC was kept in abeyance for nearly two years. This particular issue relates to the expansion of a pipeline belonging to Essar the group which is to cut through the marine national park, to facilitate expansion of the pipeline but it would mean disturbing the reserved forest area. Hence, Pankti had also filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court besides filing a RTI Application.
The RTI application dates back to 28 April 2009. The information sought was: “a certified copy of the report submitted by the committee for the use of forest land by Essar Bulk Terminal in Jamnagar; certified copy of the letter/communication to director, environment, sent by the ministry of environment and forests regarding Coastal Regulation Zone Clearance for the proposed jetties and sea water intake and effluent release facility for the thermal power project of Essar Power Gujarat (EPGL) of Salaya creek at Jamnagar district and; certified copy of the study reports done by National Institute of Oceanography Goa on Marine Environment Management & Strategies for Gulf of Kutch.”
States Pankti, The communication between state and central government plays a key role in making us understand the permissions given to the MNC and whether environmental laws are being violated. However, in the garb of ‘security’, the entire information was denied to me. The government has the right to withhold information pertaining to sensitive coastal security, and can give me partial information. Instead, the PIO and the Appellate Authority (AA) raised questions about my locus standi in the project area and also argued there is no public interest in this issue. It is unfortunate and shameful that the PIO of the department of forest & environment at Gandhinagar is more interested in protecting the vested interest of a MNC rather than protecting environment.”
Case 2: In Hardoi, UP, IITian and RTI activist beaten up
This incident is not directly related to a RTI application but is about a young IIT student and a budding RTI activist who works tirelessly for RTI applicants and wants to remain anonymous. He files RTI applications on their behalf. His name is Sangh Priya Rahul, a third year student of IIT Kharagpur and one of the managers of the unique organisation ‘RTI Anonymous.’ (www.getup4change.org).
RTI Anonymous is run by a group of young technologists from the USA and India and was born after the brutal killing of RTI activist Shehla Masood. The website states: “`We are concerned that many of our fellow citizens who have filed RTI applications have been routinely targeted and eliminated by vested interests. We just can’t let this continue” and hence have taken it upon themselves to file RTI application on behalf of citizens who are afraid to come out in the open.
Last week, Rahul visited his home town Harnoi in Uttar Pradesh (UP) for a short holiday and decided to renew his driving license. When he approached the window where they click a computerized photograph of the applicant, he was asked to pay a bribe of Rs100. Rahul refused saying there’s no such rule. The RTO official at the window insisted he part with Rs100 as everyone else does so. To this, Rahul stated that he would file a RTI application to find out irregularities being done at the RTO. He also asked all the applicants who had come there to seek driving licenses, not to pay the Rs100.
At this point, says Rahul, “about 20 RTO officers physically assaulted me and I was left bleeding. As I lay on the ground, I was asked again whether I was ready to pay the bribe. When I refused again, I was mercilessly kicked by the officers.’’ In the meanwhile, Rahul had turned on the voice mail of his cell phone and recorded their demand for bribe. You can listen to this on the YouTube.
Thereafter, Rahul visited the police station to register an FIR against the RTO officers but the police refused to lodge an FIR. After local media coverage, the FIR was filed. Says Rahul, “my fight for corruption has become stronger.”
In the meanwhile, Anand Sharma, one of the founders of RTI Anonymous is campaigning for Rahul, urging citizens to sign the online petition, in order to pressurize local officials to take action against the culprits.
Here’s how Anand has used social networking site and technology to campaign from overseas:
• A Facebook Welcome page (Justice for Sangh Priya Rahul) has been created
• A webpage has been created that updates news and progress of the case
• An online petition has been created. Says Anand, “every time people click and ‘sign’ this petition, an email will be sent to the official email address of the following four people. The idea is flood them with a deluge of emails and hopefully, that will gain their attention
a) RK Saxena(OSD to the state governor )
b) RC.Misra (secretary - personnel) MOP&PG, New Delhi
c) Director, Dept of I&P.R(Govt of Uttar Pradesh)
d) Uttar Pradesh Lokayaukta
• Also, a video of Rahul has been uploaded on YouTube. The 1.56 minute video describes the entire sequence of events by Rahul himself
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife. She is also an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart—Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at [email protected])