Tightening its noose on the companies that failed to resolve investors' complaints, market regulator Sebi has slapped penalties totaling more than Rs 21 lakh since the beginning of the current fiscal.
As per the latest information available with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), the regulator has imposed a total monetary penalty of Rs 21.35 lakh so far in 2012-13.
These penalties have been imposed against seven companies for failure to resolve investor grievances. The number of such companies in the current fiscal so far is higher than a total of five firms against whom penal action was taken by Sebi in the entire previous fiscal, 2011-12, and three in the year before.
However, the total penalty imposed in 2011-12 was higher at Rs 53.30 lakh and Rs 43 lakh in 2010-11. The total penalty in 2010-11 had declined by Rs 10 lakh after Securities Appellate Tribunal lowered the penalty on one company, Kaleidoscope Films Ltd (formerly known as Gujarat Investment Castings Ltd) from Rs 17 lakh to Rs seven lakh.
Sebi said it imposed these monetary penalties against the companies "through adjudication proceedings for their failure to redress investor grievances".
In the current fiscal, the regulator imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on Earnest Healthcare this month. Prior to that, Sebi had imposed a fine of Rs five lakh against Gujarat Filaments and and Rs 10,000 on Gujarat Aqua Industries.
Earlier this fiscal, Sebi had slapped a penalty of Rs 75,000 on Raj Irrigation Pipes & Fittings, Rs two lakh on Satguru Agro Industries and Jord Engineers India each, and Rs 1.5 lakh on Simco industries.
Additionally, Sebi in the first five months of the current fiscal had barred four companies--Shukla Data Technics, Top Telemedia, International Hometex and Alpine Industries and their respective directors from accessing securities market for not resolving investor grievances.
The regulator restrained these four companies and their directors "from accessing the securities market and from buying, selling or dealing in securities directly or indirectly, in whatsoever manner, till all the investors' grievances against the company are resolved by them."
In August, Sebi had asked all listed companies to register themselves with its online complaint redressal system – SCORES -- by September 14, after which they would be required to resolve all grievances within 30 days of their receipt.
In case, a company is unable to initiate action for redressal of investor grievances within seven days of receipt in SCORES, the regulator could take necessary enforcement actions.
Sebi had launched this online system for handling investor grievances in June 2011.