Stock Manipulation
Unquoted: Nucent Estates

Stories of price manipulation

Nucent Estates Ltd was earlier Pressman Ltd, a public relations and advertising company owned by the Suchantis of Kolkata. Pressman changed its name to Nucent Finance Ltd. It was pulled up by depositories CDSL and NSDL for failing to comply with demat norms and by the BSE for failing to disclose corporate governance report. 
The company has now supposedly diversified into real estate business and has exited from financial services. The name has changed yet again and is now Nucent Estates (even though, for some reason, it is still listed as ‘Nucent Finance’ on the BSE). Its fundamentals are downright abysmal. It recorded virtually zero sales in the past six quarters ending December 2012 and it has recorded losses in five quarters out of these six quarters. Despite the terrible numbers, its share price has zoomed 742% over the past one year, from Rs1.28 to Rs10.78. An obvious case for investigation under SEBI’s market manipulation rules, but the regulators are sleeping, as usual.


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Government concentrating on disclosure under RTI only through websites?

In a great stride towards transparency under RTI, the government has issued comprehensive guidelines towards information dissemination for which it has set up a task force. The latter says vital elements are still missing

The Department of Personnel Training (DoPT) which had set up a task force for comprehensive implementation of pro-active disclosure under Right to Information (RTI) has issued detailed guidelines through an official memorandum of 15 April 2013, to public authorities for pro-active disclosure of information under Section 4 of the RTI Act.


The objective of this exercise was to put a large amount of information in the public domain to ensure transparency in the functioning of public authorities and reduce the need for filing RTI applications. The memorandum states: “…the quality and quantity of proactive disclosure is not up to a desired level. It was felt that the weak implementation of Section 4 of the RTI Act is partly due to the fact certain provision of the Section are not fully detailed and in case of certain other provisions there is need for laying down detailed guidelines… there is also a need to set up a compliance mechanism.”


The task force which was set up in May 2011 comprised civil society organizations working in the field of Right to Information. Based on the recommendations of the task force, the government has issued guidelines for pro-active disclosure of information under Section 4 of RTI Act.


The recommendations are revolutionary in nature, as they spell out micro details of information that is mandatory to be put up in the public domain. Following is the gist of the recommendations:


  • Public Private Partnerships (PPP): All information relating to PPPs must be disclosed in the public domain by the public authority entering into the PPP concession/agreement. This includes details of the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) if set up; detailed project reports; concession agreements; operation and maintenance manuals and other documents generated as part of the implementation of the PPP project. For example, ministry of external affairs must put information regarding its PPP with Tata Consultancy Services regarding the Passport project.
  • Information related to Procurement: This includes publication of notice/tender enquiries; details of bid awards as well as name of the contractor; work contracts and the rate and total amount at which such procurement of work contract has been done.
  • Transfer policy and transfer orders: Transfer policy for different grades/cadres of employees to be proactively disclosed. All transfers should be publicised through the website or in any other manner listed in Section 4 (4) of the RTI Act.
  • RTI Applications: All public authorities to disclose RTI applications and appeals and their responses on the websites maintained by public authorities with search facility based on keywords.
  • CAG and PAC paras: Public authorities to publicly disclose CAG & PAC paras and Action Taken Reports (ATRs) only after they have been laid on the table of both the houses of Parliament.
  • Citizen Charter: Citizen Charter prepared by the ministry/department should be proactively disclosed and six-monthly report on the performance against the benchmarks set in the Citizens Charter should also be displayed on the website of public authorities
  • Foreign tours of PM/ministers: The memorandum states: “a large number of RTI queries are being filed on official tours undertaken by ministers or officials of various government ministries/departments.” Public Authorities to proactively disclose the details of foreign and domestic official tours undertaken by ministers and officials of the rank of joint secretary and above and heads of departments since 1 January 2012. The information to be updated every quarter. The information to contain nature of the official tour, places visited, the period, the number of people included in the official delegation and total cost of such travel undertaken.


The government has also issued detailed guidelines on digital publication of pro-active disclosure under Section 4. The memorandum states that “more and more proactive disclosure would gradually be made through the Internet. There is need for more clear guidelines for web-based publication of information for disclosure.”


The memorandum also states: “The Department of Information Technology has been working on setting of technical standards for government websites and the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances has published guidelines for websites of government departments. These guidelines prescribe the manner in which websites need to be designed and how information should be disclosed… The Electronic Delivery of Services Bill, 2012, under formulation by the Government of India would provide the necessary impetus.”


While this step of releasing detailed guidelines for dissemination of information is commendable, Venkatesh Nayak, one of the members of the task force and programme coordinator of Access to Information Programme, objects to the government concentrating largely on pro-active disclosure through the Internet when most of India is yet not Internet savvy; omitting pre-legislative public consultation and audits by information commissions of public authorities which the task force has recommended. He has urged the government to notify the omitted portions of the task force’s recommendations immediately.


In a letter to Manoj Joshi, joint secretary, Department of Personnel and Training who has issued the memorandum, Nayak states the following:

  • “…The current guidelines focus more on disclosure through websites. While uploading information on websites certainly puts it in the public domain, not many people in urban and rural India will be able to access it easily. When less than 10% Internet penetration and usage is recorded in the country it is important to disseminate the voluntarily disclosed information through other means such as notice boards, wall paintings, SMS through mobile telephony, call centres, toll-free helplines, making information available for free inspection at panchayats, etc
  • “The task force had recommended a set of practical guidelines to establish a consultative process for ascertaining people’s views on draft policies, laws, rules and regulations prior to their finalization. When policies and laws are drafted on the basis of people’s informed opinion, there will be greater respect for and compliance with the same. However, this chapter on pre-legislative consultation has been omitted from the current DoPT guidelines
  • “…the task force had recommended that the DoPT provide all information Commission with infrastructural support to be able to undertake audits of the performance of public authorities vis-à-vis their proactive disclosure obligations under the RTI Act. In the absence of such a mechanism state governments are unlikely to establish effective monitoring mechanism on their own.”


(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, 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 and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)




4 years ago



4 years ago

No State Govt. is Putting any information in WEBs arguing that Private Partner's Confidentiality Clause Prohibits.Even AP Secretariat ,Electricity Boards,Municipal Corporations, State Govt. Corporations & Psu's , Roads & Buildings,etc. are not Loading Important Contracts in their WEBs in the Guise Of Confidentiality.Consequently Politicians and Bueareacrats Are Enriching themselves because Indians can not Point out their Unethical Works- as No Informations Available/Exist to Point Out Their Lapses. Even this Aricle do not give Reference of Central's Communication Reference to STATES. Thus Furthur Developments / Information on this Subject has to be Contiuosly Provided.

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