To enable investors to lodge their complaints and track the status of redressal of such grievances, capital markets regulator SEBI on Monday asked stock exchanges and depositories to launch an online complaints redressal system of their own within six months.

This is in line with the online platform, SCORES, launched by the capital markets regulator in June 2011 to help investors lodge their complaints, pertaining to the securities market, against listed companies and SEBI-registered intermediaries.

SCORES stands for Sebi Complaints Redress System.

"All recognised stock exchanges including commodity derivatives exchanges / depositories are advised to design and implement an online web-based complaints redressal system of their own, which will facilitate investors to file complaints and escalate complaints for redressal through Grievance Redressal Committee (GRC), arbitration, appellate arbitration etc. in accordance with their respective byelaws, rules and regulations," Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said in a circular.

The redressal mechanism will be implemented within six months, it added.

The new system is intended to expedite redressal or disposal of investors’ complaints as it would also obviate the need for physical movement of complaints.

Further, the possibility of loss, damage or misdirection of the physical complaints would be avoided. It would also facilitate easy retrieval and tracking of complaints at any time.

SEBI said the system should be web-enabled and provide online access round the clock.

Listing out the features of the new system, the regulator said that the complaints and reminders thereon are lodged online at anytime from anywhere. Further, an email is generated instantaneously acknowledging the receipt of the complaint and allotting a unique registration number for future reference and tracking.

Besides, there should be a provision to link the online system with SCORES.

Hybrid mode

In addition, SEBI has asked stock exchanges to continue with the hybrid mode—online and offline—of conducting GRC and arbitration or appellate arbitration process. Also, the depositories will have to follow the hybrid mode.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, stock exchanges were advised to conduct GRC and arbitration or appellate arbitration hearings online for faster redressal of complaints. The online process saves time and cost of the parties involved which is in the interest of investors.

All stock exchanges and depositories have been asked to widely publicise its online web-based complaints redressal system.

Further, the regulator has tweaked the amount with regard to the deposit to be made by the investor at the time of making the arbitration application.

"A client, who has a claim / counter claim up to ₹20 lakh and files arbitration reference, will be exempted from payment of the fees," SEBI said.

If the dispute involves a claim amount less than or equal to ₹20 lakh, then the investor, either applicant or respondent, is exempted from payment of fees towards cost of arbitration and the exchange will bear the same on behalf of the investor.

Earlier, the claim limit was up to ₹10 lakh.