Bombay HC Stays CIC Order against SEBI on Disclosing AIR of NSE, BSE
Moneylife Digital Team 17 March 2023
The Bombay High Court (HC) granted a stay on an order passed by the central information commission (CIC) in a second appeal under the Right to Information Act, which New Delhi-based RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal filed. The Court was hearing the writ petitions filed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) challenging the order issued by the CIC. 
 
Mr Agarwal had filed RTI applications with SEBI, seeking access to annual inspection reports (AIRs) from National Stock Exchange (NSE) and the BSE pertaining to FY12-13 to FY19-20. He also sought information pertaining to the role of SEBI in appointing directors at the NSE. Initially, the regulator had refused to provide the requisite information to Mr Agarwal, on the grounds that it pertained to the internal functioning of the market ecosystem and its disclosure may hamper the decision-making in its supervisory and regulatory roles.
 
After Mr Agarwal had filed a second appeal, the CIC shot down SEBI’s argument for not providing the requested information. In its order on 27 December 2022, CIC directed the market regulator to provide concluding comments and final year-wise findings of the annual inspection reports of the NSE.
 
Citing violations of the Sections 8(1)(d), 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, SEBI filed writ petitions in the Bombay High Court, challenging CIC’s order. 
 
Mr Agarwal has separately filed writ petitions (WP (L) no. 7382 of 2023 and WP (L) no. 7383 of 2023) noting that the information sought is yet to be disclosed by SEBI as directed by CIC. He also challenged SEBI’s position on the impugned order as being “erroneous, illegal, bad in law” and suffering “from total non-application of the mind”; and that it “fails to set out any rationale, justification or explanation whatsoever, to arrive at a conclusion that full disclosure of the BSE and NSE inspection reports”.
 
Senior Advocate Nikhil Sakhardande, from Parinam Law Associates, appeared on behalf of Mr Agarwal. The HC granted a stay on the CIC order until the next hearing date which is scheduled for 29 March 2023. 
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