IHC seeks report from SECP in data leak case

Published November 6, 2020
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah resumed the hearing of a petition filed by SECP additional director Arslan Zafar who had challenged the disciplinary proceedings against him. — Reuters/File photo
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah resumed the hearing of a petition filed by SECP additional director Arslan Zafar who had challenged the disciplinary proceedings against him. — Reuters/File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday sought a report from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) on disciplinary proceedings against one of its officials who is accused of leaking data of family businesses of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority chairman retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa to the media.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah resumed the hearing of a petition filed by SECP additional director Arslan Zafar who had challenged the disciplinary proceedings against him.

At the outset, Chief Justice Minallah asked SECP’s counsel Shahid Bajwa to instruct his client to review the decision to initiate the proceedings against Mr Zafar.

The counsel said he could only instruct his client to proceed in the matter strictly in accordance with the law.

Chief Justice Minallah then asked the counsel for both sides to advance arguments.

Barrister Taimur Aslam Khan argued that his client only checked those records which he was authorised to. He pointed out that the SECP finalised an inquiry against him on Sept 9; however, the same information was shared with a private television channel a couple of days earlier.

According to him, this was done in violation of the SECP rules.

When the chief justice asked the SECP’s counsel if any probe was conducted to ascertain this incident, he said a fact-finding committee had been constituted to investigate the issue.

Chief Justice Minallah sought a report of the fact-finding commission at the next hearing on November 26.

On September 10, the SECP started the inquiry against the petitioner for accessing the data of companies managed by Asim Bajwa’s family, the counsel said, adding that a show-cause notice was later issued to the petitioner for this action.

According to the counsel, accessing data of a private company is not a violation of the code of conduct or against rules of the SECP’s HR manual.

The SECP had on September 22 issued showcause notices to eight officials and warning letters to two others over ‘data leak’.

The petitioner, Arslan Zafar, challenged the composition of an inquiry committee and its report, saying that an officer junior to him was assigned to probe the matter.

The petition said that the inquiry committee did not allow the petitioner to reply to the allegations in the mandatory time frame and proceed in the matter in haste.

It said that the allegations levelled against the petitioner were baseless and based on mere assumptions.

The SECP’s HR department issued the show-cause notices to eight employees, including the additional director of market surveillance department, Arslan Zafar.

According to the show-cause notice, Arslan Zafar is reported to have made unauthorised access to personal information of Asim Bajwa and his family members, including details of their CNICs, in the last week of July.

He is accused of violating the SECP’s HR manual. He has been asked to provide reasons for his act and satisfy the commission over the allegations levelled against him.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2020

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