Insider Trading - Legal or Illegal in India

Insider trading is a term used to describe the buying or selling of securities based on non-public information, unavailable to the general public. While it is illegal in many countries, including the United States, you may wonder if insider trading is legal or illegal in India. The clear answer to this is that insider trading is illegal in India.

To fully understand what is prohibited, it is important to know what insider trading is. In this article, we will explore whether insider trading is legal or illegal in India, the regulations surrounding it, and the impact it can have on the Indian stock market. We also look at the actions taken by SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) to prevent insider trading and how companies protect themselves from this liability.

What is insider trading?

Insider trading is the practice of buying or selling securities based on information that is not available to the general public. This can include information about financial performance, mergers, acquisitions and other information that can affect the price of a security. This information is typically obtained by someone who has access to it because of their position within the company or organisation.

Insider trading laws in India

SEBI regulates the securities market in India and enforces the insider trading laws. The SEBI regulations on prohibition of insider trading, 2015: provide a legal framework.

Under these regulations, insider trading is defined as "trading in securities while possessing unpublished price-sensitive information" and is prohibited. The regulations define price-sensitive information as any information that "relates directly or indirectly to a company" and that", if published, is likely to affect the price of securities materially."

Insiders, such as directors, officers, and company employees, are prohibited from trading in securities when possessing price-sensitive information. In addition, anyone with access to such information is prohibited from communicating this information to another person or tipping them off about the same.

The regulations also define who constitutes an insider, including company directors, officers, employees, and their relatives. These insiders must disclose their trades to the company and SEBI, and are prohibited from trading in securities when possessing unpublished and/or price-sensitive information.

The penalties for insider trading in India are severe. SEBI can impose fines up to Rs. 25 crore or three times the profits, whichever is higher. SEBI can also set a prison sentence of up to ten years.

Recent cases of insider trading in India

Despite clear regulations on whether insider trading is legal in India, there have been instances where individuals have engaged in such activities. In 2017, Rajat Gupta, a former director of Goldman Sachs, was convicted of insider trading in the US and was fined US$13.9 million. Gupta was also sentenced to two years in prison. Similarly, there have been insider trading cases in India, and SEBI has taken strict action against those found guilty.

Impact of insider trading on the Indian stock market

Insider trading can significantly impact the Indian stock market, both in terms of the market's integrity and investor confidence.

When insiders engage in insider trading, they gain an unfair advantage over other investors who do not have access to the same non-public information. This creates an uneven playing field, where insiders can profit at the expense of the general public. This can lead to a loss of trust in the securities market, as investors may feel the market is rigged in favour of these insiders. Insider trading can also affect the market's liquidity and efficiency.

Additionally, when insiders trade on non-public information, they may cause the price of securities to move in a way that does not reflect the company's actual value. This can distort the market's price discovery process, making it difficult for other investors to make informed investment decisions. Insider trading can also reduce the volume of trades in the market, as investors may be hesitant to trade in a market that they perceive as rigged in favour of insiders.

The impact of insider trading on the Indian stock market can be significant. In the past, there have been instances of insider trading that have caused a decline in investor confidence and a reduction in market liquidity. For example, in 2015, SEBI banned 59 entities from the stock market for insider trading, which led to a decline in the share prices of many companies that were involved.

SEBI has strict regulations and penalties to prevent insider trading and its negative impact on the market and conducts regular inspections and investigations to detect and punish those engaging in insider trading. SEBI also promotes investor education and awareness to ensure that investors know insider trading risks and can make informed investment decisions.


Insider trading is a severe offence that can significantly impact the Indian stock market. SEBI has strict regulations and penalties to prevent insider trading and maintain market integrity. The penalties for insider trading can be severe, including fines and imprisonment. SEBI's efforts to prevent insider trading are critical in maintaining investor confidence. By imposing strict penalties and promoting investor education, SEBI is working to ensure that the Indian stock market remains fair and transparent for all investors.

As such, all market participants need to comply with SEBI's regulations and work towards creating a level playing field for all investors.

Overall, it is clear that insider trading has no place in the Indian securities market, and SEBI is committed to preventing this illegal activity. It is necessary for all market participants to work towards maintaining the integrity of the Indian stock market, promoting investor confidence, and upholding the highest standards of ethical behaviour.

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