SECP submits inquiry report before IHC in data leak issue

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ISLAMABAD    –  The Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan Thursday submitted an inquiry report before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against Arsalan Zafar, the SECP additional director and the suspect in sensitive data leak issue. 

A single bench of the IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the petition of Arsalan Zafar challenging the constitution of an inquiry committee to probe the allegations of data leak of the SECP.

During the hearing, the SECP lawyer submitted the inquiry report against Zafar. At this, the IHC Chief Justice remarked that the report contains nothing but the details of content which is already available on portal. Later, the counsel submitted another report regarding secret data leak.

Justice Athar said that there was nothing confidential in the report as well. After being questioned by the judge, the counsel submitted the third inquiry report to the court and said that the confidential matters are compiled in the report. 

To this, the bench said that the third report has only contained the details which highlighted the issue that defamed the institution. He remarked that it shows the weakness of the commission. The judge added it seems that the commission was unaware about the exact information regarding the data leak. 

The judge asked from the SECP’s counsel to highlight the points in the report to spot details of data leaks and the genre of the data. He added that it was impossible to run public and secret portals separately by the commission. 

He asked the lawyer to read the report carefully and then give legal advice to the client. He added that how can the information on public portal differs from internal portal or whether the information available with the public portal is false? The lawyer replied that the public portal provides only basic information. 

The IHC CJ asked that why the names of shareholders are not appearing on the public portal. To this, the lawyer said that the information of a private company limited is kept secret around the world. 

Justice Athar stated that which law restricts the disclosure of a private company and what was the reason behind it. The lawyer replied that the question should be that under which law, the details of a private company could be publicised. 

The judge asked from the lawyer to apprise the law which blocks passage to disclose details of a private company. Then, he directed the SECP counsel to satisfy the court in this matter under Article 19-A on the next hearing besides highlighting the difference between public and private portals. 

After issuing the aforementioned direction, the bench deferred the hearing till January 28 for further proceedings. 

In his petition filed through Taimoor Aslam Khan Advocate, Zafar made Chairman SECP, Secretary SECP and Chairman of Inquiry Committee Ms Sadia Khan as respondents. 

He stated that petitioner is presently serving as Additional Director, Market Supervision and Risk Department in the SECP and he is a qualified Chartered Accountant, having obtained his educational degree from the prestigious Institute of Chartered Accounts in England and Wales. 

He prayed to the court to declare the inquiry report dated 19-09-2020 submitted by the said inquiry committee entirely conjectural in nature and based on mere assumptions and not on facts and to quote the inquiry committee “provide ‘circumstantial evidence’ of his involvement in potential data leak which may have formed the basis of subsequent media leaks” and in utter violation of the due process of law, as null and void, ab initio and set aside the same, in the interests of justice.


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