HC seeks government reply on false stock info plea

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the government’s response on a petition seeking a “comprehensive policy” to stem the circulation of false information on stocks on social media platforms that could cause share prices to tank and damage the reputation of a company.

On a petition filed by Easy Trip Planner, which operates online travel portal EaseMyTrip, the high court also directed social media companies such as Twitter, WhatsApp and Telegram to take down false messages being spread on their platforms against the company and asked the BSE to issue a clarification.

The company said it came to know that a “malicious social media disinformation campaign” was run against it on September 18-19, with contradicting messages in a deliberate attempt to manipulate the stock price.

A message was spread as a “Fraud Alert”, that the stock was likely to start on a lower circuit from Monday, exhorting people to exit it, said the petition, which ET has seen. There were also messages projecting the stock as a “Sure Shot Short Term Positional Call”, asking people to buy it at the current market price of ₹625 with a target of ₹750.

On Monday, the shares of the company closed 9.69% lower at ₹598.90 on the BSE.

A pointer on the BSE website said the stock was on a “Current Watchlist”, citing “unsolicited messages”.

The company sought directions to the government to frame a policy on the manner in which stock exchanges and regulators deal with matters like intimation of solicitation, keeping in mind impact on shares.

Advocate Hemant Shah and Tanmaya Mehta, counsels for Easy Trip Planner, told ET that the high court also granted an interim stay on any adverse action against the company by the BSE till further orders.

Counsels argued that the messages were evidently part of a wide conspiracy to destabilise the stock and harm the company.

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