Legal Provisions relating to Investor Protection

19/10/2022 0 By indiafreenotes

The Government has established an Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF) under Sec. 205 C of the Companies Act, 1956 under which unclaimed funds on account of dividends, matured deposits, matured debentures, share application money etc. are transferred through the IEPF to the Government by the company on completion of seven years. The Government is required to utilize this amount through an Investor Education and Protection Fund. For this purpose, the proceeds from the companies are credited to the Consolidated Fund of India through this fund. The Fund may then be entrusted with full-fledged responsibility to carry out activities for education of investors and protection of their rights.

BSE is the first Exchange to have set up the ‘Stock Exchange Investors Protection Fund (IPF) in the interest of the customers of the defaulter members of the Exchange. This fund was set up on 10th July, 1986 and has been registered with the Charity Commissioner, Government of Maharashtra as a Charitable Fund. The maximum amount of Rs. 10,00,000 payable to an investor from Investor Protection Fund in the event of a default by a Trading Member has been revised to Rs. 15,00,000; which shall be applicable to the clients of the Trading Member of the Exchange, who will be declared Defaulter after 5th December, 2009. (This has been progressively raised by BSE from Rs.10,000 in 1988 to the present level).

BSE is the only Exchange in India, which offers the highest compensation of Rs.15lacs in respect of the approved claims of any Investor against the defaulter Trading Members of the Exchange.

The Trading members at present contribute 1 paisa per 1lakh of gross turnover. The Stock Exchange contributes 2.5% of the listing fees collected by it. Also the entire interest earned by the Exchange on 1% security deposit kept by with it by the companies making public / rights issues is credited to the Fund.

Investor Awareness Program

Launching the Securities Market Awareness Campaign organized by SEBI (January 2003), the Prime Minister said the prolonged quietness in the stock markets had tested the confidence of the small investor who was the backbone of the securities market. If investors are not attracted, then companies will not be able to raise money through the capital market. The Indian household investor, off late, has been putting much of his savings in non-financial assets. Even with financial assets, most of the savings are going to the banking system. This is not the best or the most productive use of our savings, he said. In recent years, there had been many instances of companies raising money from the market by creating hype and then defrauding the investor. Many of them issued shares at hefty premiums; most of their scrip are now trading well below their face value. Stock market scams brought a bad name to the Indian business community. This is how boom went bust and hopes turned to dust for many gullible investors. And that is how the investor community lost confidence in the market, leading to prolonged stagnation. The Prime Minister, therefore, called upon the market regulator and the intermediaries to learn the right lessons from our experience of the past few years. He said we need markets that are known for their safety and integrity.

Investor Awareness programs are being regularly conducted by stock exchanges to educate the investors and to create awareness among the Investors regarding the working of the capital market and in particular the working of the Stock Exchanges. These programs have been conducted in almost all over the country.

The Investor Awareness program covers extensive topics like Instruments of Investment, Portfolio approach, Mutual funds, Tax provisions, Trading, Clearing and Settlement, Rolling Settlement, Investors’ Protection Fund, Trade Guarantee Fund, Dematerialization of shares, information on Debt Market, Investors’ Grievance Redressal system available with SEBI, BSE & Company Law Board, information on Sensex and other Indices, workshops and Information on Derivatives, Futures and Options etc.

Further, for the benefit of the Investors’ the Bombay Stock Exchange has:

BSE Training Institute which organizes Training programs periodically on various subjects like comprehensive programs on Capital Markets, Fundamental Analysis, Technical Analysis, Derivatives, Index Futures and Options, Debt Market, etc. Further, for the Derivatives market BSE also conducts the compulsory BSE’s Certification on Derivatives Exchange (BCDE) certification for Trading Members and their dealers to impart basic minimum knowledge of the derivatives markets.

Compensation to the Investors

Capital market includes investment into risk bearing instruments. In such cases, the investor is required to make his own assessment of risk and reward. No compensation could be visualized for such investors whose investments were in risk bearing instruments. Similarly, investment in a fixed return instrument necessitated a careful review of the borrowing entity. Such actions would also be subjected to known or declared risks. Besides, the capital market also provides an opportunity for an investor to exit. The need therefore, is to ensure proper and healthy market operation so that investors could exercise their exit options in a reasonable and equitable environment. However, there may be situations where such a frame work is distorted through frauds. There may be provisions for compensation in the event of fraud by companies being established in securing funds from investors. For this purpose lifting of corporate veil may be enabled by the law.

The Companies Act, 2013 is enacted with the main aim to assure maximum protection to every section of investors irrespective of their classes. The Companies Act, 2013 has been embedded with several new provisions in regards to the protection of investor’s interest. Some of the provisions to protect investor’s interest under the Companies Act, 2013 are discussed hereunder.

Acceptance of Deposits: The acceptance of deposit from the general public is not permitted under the Act, and violation of any of the provision is a punishable offense. Section 73 of the Act provides that no company shall accept or review deposit under this Act from the public except in a manner recognized under Chapter V of the Act and Companies (Acceptance of Deposit) Rule 2014.

Misstatement in Prospectus: The prospectus is a written statement issued by the company to the general public containing brief information regarding companies profile and their investment proposals. Section 34 of the Act deals with the criminal liability for miss statement in the prospectus issued by a company. The prospectus issued, circulated or distributed, include any statement, which is untrue or misleading in form or context to induce people to make an investment, shall be liable for action u/S 447.

Fraudulently Inducing Person to Invest Money: Section 36 of the Act deals with the punishment of the person who intentionally or recklessly induces the investor to make the investment through any agreement for the purpose or the pretended purpose of which to secure a profit. This kind of deliberate concealment of fact shall be liable for punishment u/s 447.

Non-Payment Of Dividend: Declaration of the dividend is usually one of the items of agenda of every AGM. The dividend is nothing but profits earned by the company and divided among shareholders in proportion to the amount paid-up shares held by them, i.e., return on the investment made by shareholders. The Section 125 of the Act provides for the establishment of investors education and protection fund by the central government. This fund is credited with the unpaid/unclaimed amount of application money/matured money or mature deposits. Such accumulations of the fund are to be utilized for promotion of investor’s awareness and protection of investor interest. Section 123 of the Act state that the dividend should be credited in investors account within in five days after the declaration.

Right to Demand Financial Statements: Section 136 of the Act provides for the right of a member to obtain copies of Balance-Sheet and Auditors Reports. In the case of default complying with this requirement, the company shall be liable for a penalty of twenty-five rupees and the authorized officer who is in default shall be liable for a penalty of five thousand rupees. Besides, this investor has the option to proceed against the company or its authorities in a court of law under the guidelines determined under Section 436 of the Act.