New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on 4 July stayed an order of Central Information Commission bringing stock exchanges under the purview of Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Acting on a petition by National Stock Exchange, a bench of Justice B D Ahmed also issued notices to market regulator Sebi, Ministry of Finance and CIC seeking their replies. The court asked them to submit affidavit within four weeks and file rejoinder, if any, in four weeks thereafter.
NSE had challenged CIC’s decision of 7 June to open up the bourses under the transparency legislation.
Gopal Subramanium, the counsel for NSE, contended that bourses did not come within the definition of the state and so, cannot come under the purview of RTI Act.
Subramanium, who is also Additional Solicitor General, said information under RTI can be sought only against the government or its agencies and not against a company. NSE is a company incorporated under the Companies Act, he said.
Organisations which come within the ambit of RTI Act should be constituted, controlled and substantially funded by the central or the state government. Stock exchanges do not fit in the definition and their board of directors are not appointed by the government, he added.
Contesting the government’s view it had no control on bourses, the Sebi counsel said it monitored exchanges and the regulator was a government body.
On this, the Bench remarked: “Everybody is governed by one or the another government body.”
The CIC had last month on a plea by two investors against NSE and Jaipur Stock Exchange directed all bourses to comply with RTI rules within three months. It had also directed JSE and NSE to put in place an RTI regime within a month.
The Commission had said that stock exchanges being quasi-governmental bodies working under the statute and exercising statutory powers have to be held a ‘public authority’ within the meaning of the RTI Act.
Sebi had then argued it had, along with the government, concurrent control over functioning of stock exchanges.