Information regarding investigation against Reliance Industries into alleged short selling of shares, not to be disclosed

CIC has held that Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is allowed to withhold information regarding report of enquiry officer in probe into alleged short selling of shares by Reliance Industries Limited in 2007, observing that investigation in the matter is yet pending. The order of CIC came upon an appeal filed by a RTI activist who sought to know from SEBI the inspection report regarding the purported entities involved with RIL in the alleged short sale of shares of Reliance Petroleum in November 2007. The appellant also asked for information regarding various applications of consent order/terms offered by RIL and the entities involved charged under Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices Regulations, entire papers in the file and file notings relating to the declining of the requests filed by RIL and other entities for the consent orders and for considering request for composition of offences under the Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices Regulations, and also entire papers in the file and file notings relating to the latest pending requests filed by RIL and other entities for the consent orders and for considering request for composition of offences under the Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices Regulations. Earlier, the said information was denied by SEBI on the ground that investigation had not concluded in the matter. After hearing both the parties, CIC noted that final orders in the matter were yet to be passed by the competent authority under the SEBI Act. Therefore, the process of investigation against the RIL was still pending before SEBI and it cannot be said the same has reached its conclusion. Hence, the requested information falls under exemption under Section 8(1); (h) of the Act. While declining to allow the disclosure of the required information, CIC further held, “We are of the view that the process of investigation against the RIL initiated by the SEBI is still continuing. Therefore, the disclosure of the requested information at this stage would impede the said process and defeat the purpose of the protection granted to such information. No concrete and tangible case of public interest has been made out by the appellant which may be described as overriding the protected interest.” (Arun Kumar Agrawal v. SEBI, 2014 SCC OnLine CIC 5983, decided on November 28, 2014)

 

 

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × one =