Interim relief for investors if arbritration award challenged: Sinha

Investors aggreived by actions of brokers or other market entities can look forward to an upfront interim relief payment, even if the arbitration award decided in their favour gets into an appeal.

According to Sebi chief U K Sinha, investor grievance redressal has been one of the top focus areas for Sebi during 2013 and it has been now ensured that the aggrieved investors get a portion of arbitration award immediately even if the decision is challenged by the broker.

Consequently, an investor would not have to wait for the entire appeal process to get over for payment of the award.

At the same time, Sebi is working on further improvements to its computerised integrated investor redressal system SCORES, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) Chairman said.

"On investor grievance, there have been 3-4 important developments. For example, earlier the grievance redressal for grievance between broker and a client used to take place at four centres in the country. This has been extended to 16 centres.

"The grievance redressal panel also earlier used to be predominantly made of brokers and in many cases it was 100% dominated by brokers.

"Now, we have ensured that the panel is neutral -- from a broker driven panel we have made it a neutral panel," Sinha told PTI in an interview.

Giving further details on steps being taken for safeguarding investors' interests and for redressal of their grievances, Sinha said, "Sebi has now provided that in case a reward is given by the panel against the broker and the broker is getting into an appeal, a portion of the award will still be paid to the investor.

"So, the investor would not have to wait for the entire appeal process to be over and he would be compensated in the meantime by way of an interim relief."

Terming these as major developments in the area of empowering investors, Sebi chief said that the regulator's computerised grievance redressal system SCORES has also seen many improvements and an advisory has been issued to inform investors on this.

Asked whether Sebi would look into integration of SCORES with other investor redressal systems, such as those of the Corporate Affairs Ministry and different regulators, Sinha said, "At the moment, we are concentrating on further improving our own systems.

"Although we have made substantial progress, we still want to improve it further. So, we feel that there is scope for further improvement and a team is working on this."

"Once we are very sure that our system has been improved to a standard that satisfies us fully, then we will look into the integration. Because, integration at this stage may not give us any results. That may happen later," he added.

Sinha also said that Sebi has set up its own call centre, where any complaint can be lodged at any time and it is working in 14 languages.

"What I wish to communicate is that matters like corporate governance and investor grievance redressal are our top focus areas.

"The number of investor awareness programmes that we have done this year is all-time high, in fact several times higher than the past records. We are conducting these programmes through our own people, through resource persons.

"I myself have gone to numerous places for such programmes. We are reaching out to smaller places. We have opened 16 offices in a span of one and half years, up from just 4 offices in the past. All this is being done with a message to the larger population that we want to reach as close as possible to the investors," he said.

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