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Non-Public Authorities cannot be obligated against to collect information for the benefit of the Appellant: Appellant Authority, SEBI

The appellate authority under the RTI (Right to Information) Act of the Securities and Exchange Board of India comprising of Mr. Anand Baiwar adjudicated in the matter of Anshuman Verma v CPIO, SEBI, Mumbai (Appeal No. 4291 of 2021) dealt with an issue in connection with Section 2 and Section 3 of the Right to Information Act.

The appellant, Mr Anshuman Verma had filed an application via RTI MIS Portal on the 24th of May, 2021 under the Right to Information Act, 2005. After receiving a letter from the respondent on 2nd June 2021 on his application, the appellate decided to file an appeal on the 3rd of June, 2021. In his application on the 24th of May, 2021, the appellate was seeking the ‘Internal report filed by Aster DM Healthcare Ltd. (company) in relation to a workplace harassment issue reported by the victim/employee.’ The respondent said in response to this application that this particular query did not pertain to SEBI and hence they won’t be able to make this information available.

The appellant did not mention any grounds for filing the appeal. However, he inter alia sought instruction with respect to getting a report filed by a publicly listed company. The appellate authority, Mr Anand Baiwar quoted the case of Central Board of Secondary Education & Anr. vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors (Judgment dated August 9, 2011) held that “The RTI Act provides access to all information that is available and existing. This is clear from a combined reading of section 3 and the definitions of `information’ and `right to information’ under clauses (f) and (j) of section 2 of the Act. If a public authority has any information in the form of data or analysed data, or abstracts, or statistics, an applicant may access such information, subject to the exemptions in section 8 of the Act. But where the information sought is not a part of the record of a public authority, and where such information is not required to be maintained under any law or the rules or regulations of the public authority, the Act does not cast an obligation upon the public authority, to collect or collate such non-available information and then furnish it to an applicant.” (Emphasis supplied).

In addition, he also quoted Hon’ble CIC in the matter of Sh. Pattipati Rama Murthy vs. CPIO, SEBI (Decision dated July 8, 2013), held: “… if it (SEBI) does not have any such information in its possession, the CPIO cannot obviously invent one for the benefit of the Appellant. There is simply no information to be given.” In view of these observations, the appellate authority found that the information sought by the appellant was not available with SEBI and therefore, the respondent cannot be obliged to provide such non–available information.

In light of this, the appellate authority dismissed the appeal of the appellant stating that he had no reason to interfere since the observations were clear.

Click here to read the judgment.                                                                            

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