If you have a grievance against the stock exchanges, mutual funds or advisers, you can lodge a complaint with capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). Note that other financial entities have other regulators. For example, banks are regulated by Reserve Bank of India, insurance companies by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) and pension funds by Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority.
You can lodge a complaint with Sebi using its SCORES portal (bit.ly/2EIXb3U). You can also make an offline, paper-based complaint, but Sebi converts these into online complaints by uploading them on the SCORES portal.
While filling the complaint registration form, you will have to provide details such as your name, permanent account number (PAN) email address, Aadhaar number (optional) and central KYC (know your customer) ID (optional). Upon successful registration of the complaint, you will get a unique user ID and a password through an acknowledgement email or SMS.
While making a complaint, keep a few things in mind. First, the complaint must be made directly to the offending entity at first. You can do this as well through the SCORES portal. The entity must then file an “action-taken" report within 30 days of the complaint. If you do not receive a reply from the entity or if action taken is not to your satisfaction, you can file a complaint with Sebi on the same portal.
Second, keep in mind that you need to make the complaint within three years from the “cause of action" or the incident which gave rise to the grievance.
In FY19, Sebi received 42,202 complaints, out of which only 3,094 were pending at the end of the year. Further, only 297 grievances were pending for more than six months as on 31 March 2019 as compared to 751 pending grievances for more than six months as on 31 March 2018.
Unlike the banking ombudsman, which entertains complaints from the banking industry, Sebi does not disclose how many complaints were dismissed and how many resulted in fines or other action. If your complaint is dismissed by Sebi, you can apply for a “review" within 15 days of dismissal.
You can also call Sebi for any questions or help. Sebi has launched toll-free helpline numbers 1800227575 and 18002667575 which you can call between 9am and 6pm (except on declared public holidays in Maharashtra) from anywhere in India. Around 484,000 calls were received on these numbers by Sebi in FY19.