Wednesday, May 7, 2014

SEBI is empowered to monitor call records of any person against whom any enquiry or investigation is pending

SEBI is authorized to call for call data records from telecom service providers. However, such power can only be exercised it in respect of a person against whom an authorized officer conducts any investigation or enquiry. Facts: a)The petitioner, Indian Council of Investor, filed the instant PIL alleging violation of fundamental right of privacy by SEBI as it had intercepted and monitored calls and called for Call Data Records (CDRs) from Telecom Service providers (TSP). b)The petitioner further stated SEBI was prohibited from calling for any records such as CDRs from any TSP in view of Section 5 (2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. The SEBI denied allegation made against it on ground that it had only called for data that was already available in the records of the telecom providers. c)The respondent stated that Section 5 (2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 has no application in respect of calling for CDRs from TSP as the provision only applies to intercepting call and, or prohibiting call/messages. The High Court held as under: 1)SEBI is authorized under SEBI Act to call for CDRs from TSP. However, this power is capable of misuse and can violate a citizen's right to privacy guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. 2)SEBI cannot exercise such power for conducting a fishing enquiry. It cannot be a blanket power to hunt out information without any pending inquiry or investigation. This power can only be exercised by SEBI in respect of any person against whom any investigation or enquiry is being conducted. 3)Only an officer duly authorized by SEBI can call for information about CDRs from TSP. Thus, the instant PIL was disposed of- INDIAN COUNCIL OF INVESTORS V. UNION OF INDIA [2014] 45 taxmann.com 45 (Bombay)
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