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2022 (9) TMI 753 - Securities / SEBI
Offence under SEBI - Unusual price movement in the shares - penalty imposed under Section 15A(a) of the 1992 Act - non-compliance of summons - Non-cooperative attitude of the appellants during the course of the investigation - monetary penalty of rupees one crore on each appellant under Section 15A(a) for failing to comply with the summons issued to the appellants for the production of documents and furnishing of information during the course of certain investigations being carried out by SEBI during the period of 2000-2007 in relation to suspicious purchase and sale of scrip and manipulation of share prices of STIL - HELD THAT:- By not responding to the fresh summons and by not appearing before the Investigating Authority when directed to appear, the appellants’ statements could not be recorded and this has hampered with the investigation. The appellants had failed to produce the documents and information as required vide summons dated 01.04.2003 and 09.04.2003 respectively and had, thus, affected the conduct of the investigation. The appellants’ compliance, if any, to one summons dated 02.07.2001 and 26.07.2001 respectively, in no way, absolves the appellants of their responsibility to comply with the summons issued thereafter on multiple dates. The appellants were bound to fully co-operate with the Investigating Authority and promptly produce all documents, records, and information as were required for the investigation from time-to-time. In failing to do so, the appellants clearly obstructed and hindered the investigation.
Taking into consideration the severity of offences found to have been committed by the appellants and other entities, and the non-cooperative attitude of the appellants during the course of the investigation in attempting to obstruct the same, the quantum of penalty imposed under Section 15A(a) of the 1992 Act is justified and with effective consideration of the factors listed in Section 15J of the 1992 Act.
A bare reading of Section 11C (3) of the 1992 Act makes it clear that an Investigating Authority appointed by SEBI to investigate the affairs of any persons may require such person “associated with the securities market in any manner to furnish such information to, or produce such books, or registers, or other documents, or record before him or any person authorized by it, in this behalf as it may consider necessary, if the furnishing of such information or the production of such books, or registers, or other documents, or record is relevant or necessary for the purposes of its investigation”.
In the present case, the appellants were under investigation by SEBI for its alleged involvement in aiding and abetting Ketan Parekh and his companies in manipulating the securities market. In view of the same, the appellants would squarely fall under the scope of “persons associated with the securities market in any manner” under Section 11C(3) of the 1992 Act. The authority of the Investigating Authority to direct such persons to appear before him and furnish information or produce documents as is required for an investigation is provided in Section 11C (3) of the 1992 Act.
As also pertinent to mention that Section 19 of the 1992 Act provides that the SEBI may delegate to any member, officer of the SEBI or any other person, such of its powers and functions under this Act (except the powers under Section 29) as it may deem necessary. Thus, when the appellants failed to comply with the directions issued u/s 11C (3) of the 1992 Act and failed to produce the required documents and information, the Investigating Authority, being a delegated Authority of SEBI, was empowered to levy the penalty as provided in Section 15A(a) of the 1992 Act. Hence, we find no merit in these appeals. The appeals are dismissed.