Delhi HC sets aside info panel order to Sebi in RIL insider trading case

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 31 2013, 06:51am hrs
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday set aside the chief information commission's order that asked capital market regulator Sebi to make public names of entities allegedly involved in insider trading of shares of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries (RIL) in 2007.

Chief information commissioner Satyananda Mishra, on the plea of RTI applicant Arun Agrawal, in his November 6, 2012, order, had directed Sebi disclose information related to the Reliance Petroleum's (RPL) insider trading case.

Agarwal, a Bangalore-based lawyer, had sought to know from the Sebi names of individuals, partners, directors and major shareholders (in case of companies) involved in the short sale of shares of RPL in November 2007. A Bench of Justice GS Sisthani set aside the CIC's order and remanded the case back to the commission on the grounds that RIL was not given an opportunity to be heard in the matter. It asked CIC to issue notices to both RIL and Agarwal.

The court also clarified that it is not going into the merits of the case and the decision was only on the ground that opportunity was not given to RIL. Senior counsel AM Singhvi, appearing for RIL, said the company was not given an opportunity to be heard when the order was passed by CIC.

If as a regulator, the Sebi took cognizance of allegations of any breach of law, rules or regulations by one or more entities for unlawful private gain, the information generated in the process of its investigation needs to be disclosed in the public domain, said the CIC order.

Earlier, the Bombay HC had directed that RIL be made a party to the Sebi-CIC dispute and asked Sebi to inform the court if it was possible for the board to disclose file notings pertaining to the case. Sebi approached the Bombay HC, challenging the CIC order on the grounds that such a disclosure, which was not of a nature which would be of public interest, would hamper its investigations.