CIC tells Sebi to disclose assets, liabilities of its chairman

Panel passed the order on a plea by activist Arun Agrawal

CIC tells Sebi to disclose assets, liabilities of its chairman

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to declare the assets and liabilities of its Chairman U K Sinha in larger public interest.

The transparency panel passed the order on a plea made by Bengaluru-based activist Arun Agrawal, under the Right to Information Act. The full bench of the CIC rejected the Sebi contention that the details on assets and liabilities of Sinha were personal information which were provided to the Sebi in fiduciary capacity.

“This commission recognises the perspective brought out on public interest in section 8(2) of the Act in the course of the hearing. The appellant underlined the dimensions of public interest overriding the protected interest, i.e., the protection given to the 'fiduciary' and 'personal information' elements,” the CIC said.

According to sources, the Sebi is likely to challenge the order before the high court. It is likely to refer to the apex court's order of November 1, 2013 in which the appointment of Sinha as Sebi chairman was upheld.

Agrawal also sought information on perquisites being given to Sinha on his employment with the market regulator. He contended that the information relating to the emoluments of the chairman were to be disclosed on the website of Sebi as per section 4(1)(b)(x) of the RTI Act relating to manadatory disclosure norms.
With regard to perquisites, the Sebi said that the information was available in public domain.

“Taking into account the arguments of the appellant, this appears to be fit case where the requested information should be disclosed in larger public interest,” the commission said.

In his contention before the CIC, Agrawal said there was a conflict of interest of the Sebi appellate authority as he had applied for reappointment in the Sebi and the chairman of the Sebi has a considerable say in his reappointment.

Agrawal alleged that Sinha did not disclose his true emoluments to the government at the time of his appointment assChairman, Sebi.

"Sinha gave up a job of over Rs three crore per annum to become ahairman, SEBI at emoluments of Rs 36 lakhs per annum. It was done to dilute cases of some of the major offenders on the capital market. Hence, this information should be disclosed in public interest," he alleged. Sinha had joined the Sebi as chairman in 2011.

In November last year, the apex court did not find any irregularity in the appointment of Sinha saying that it was in accordance with the established procedure. It had dismissed Agrawal's plea challenging Sinha's appointment and indicted him for acting as “a surrogate for some powerful phantom lobbies”.

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