ISLAMABAD: The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has decided to enhance powers of its investigation officers (IOs) for raiding/forcible entry at business places for seizing documents, digital evidence, electronic devices, objects, articles, material or things seized during search operation.

Through SRO 306(I)/2018, the SECP has issued draft Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (Search and Seizure) Rules, 2018 here on Thursday. The SECP has issued a detailed procedure for its investigating officers for search and seizure.

According to the sources, under section 30 of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Act, 1997, the SECP has specified the powers of the investigating officers of the Commission. An investigating officer, only after the written order of the Commission signed by a commissioner or an officer authorized in this behalf, may enter any place or building to inspect and make copies of or take extracts from any book, minute book, register or document and where he has reason to believe that an offence has been committed and any administered legislation or other law in respect of which the Commission has power to make investigation or inspection, to search for, seize, take possession of and detain any object, article, material, thing, accounts book or other document, including any travel or other personal document which may be used as evidence.

Under section 31 of the said Act, the SECP has also given powers to its officials for forcible entry. An investigating officer of the Commission may enter any place or building by force, if necessary in such a form and manner as may be prescribed by the federal government. Under the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (Search and Seizure) Rules 2018, the SECP has issued procedure of search and seizure.

The investigating officer shall prepare an inventory of all the documents, digital evidence, electronic devices, objects, articles, material or things seized in the course of search and clearly note the places in which they are found.

The investigating officer shall allow any occupant of the place to be present during search under such restriction as deemed appropriate for conducting the search.

The investigating officer shall prepare seizure memo in the form as provided in the Schedule at the spot and must carry with him all necessary tools or things required for preparing seizure memo at the spot. Provided that where there is no provision of electricity, computer, printer at the spot, the investigating officer shall prepare handwritten seizure memo.

The investigating officer shall maintain a diary of proceedings, setting forth details of day to day proceedings in the investigation and the investigating officer shall record concisely and clearly all steps taken by the team during the course of investigation. It shall also include description of all documents seized and all statements recorded, the SECP said.

The investigating officer shall meet all requirements of the Act and any administered legislation under which investigation is authorized.

The SECP has said that the attachment by seizure shall be made after sunrise and before sunset and not otherwise.

The investigating officer shall search any place or building in presence of two witnesses who may be inhabitants, officials, officers, servants, employees or keeper of the locality, office, building or place including any regulated person.

Provided that in absence of any local inhabitant, official, servant or employee, the investigation team may associate other officers, officials or employees of the Commission, not being member of the investigation team by giving brief reasoning in the report and duly recording the same in the diary of proceedings:

Provided that associating local inhabitant in search shall not be required where it is made as a result of information given by the accused or on secret information requiring immediate action or if the place or building searched is a deserted area or search is carried out in odd hours.

The investigating officer, under the Act or any administered legislation, shall also record separate statements of the witnesses, the SECP added.