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An information seeker cannot be allowed to expand the scope of his RTI enquiry at appeal stage.: Appellate 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 Rushikesh Vijay Bhopatrao v CPIO, SEBI, Mumbai (Appeal No. 4284 of 2021) dealt with an issue in connection with Section 8 (1) (g) and 8 (1) (j) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

The appellant, Mr Rushikesh Vijay Bhopatrao had filed an application via RTI MIS Portal on the 8th of May, 2021 under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The respondent responded to the application by a letter on the 28th of May, 2021, filed by the appellate. After receiving a letter from the respondent on 28th of May, 2021 on his application, the appellate decided to file an appeal on the 28th of May, 2021. In his application on the 28th of May, 2021, the appellate was seeking the information about the list of all candidates who qualified Phase 2 of SEBI Grade A 2018, along with category wise marks distribution of Phase 2 and Phase 3 of all candidates who appeared in interviews.

The appellate filed the appeal on the basis of him not being granted the information he was seeking. The appellate authority, Mr Anand Baiwar, made reference to the matter of Hon’ble CIC in the matter of Ajit Kumar vs. CPIO, Union Public Service Commission (order dated June 17, 2021). In the said matter, the Hon’ble CIC also relied on a judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Central Public Information Officer, Supreme Court of India Vs. Subhash Chandra Agarwal (order dated November 13, 2019 passed in Civil Appeal No. 10044 of 2010 with Civil Appeal No. 10045 of 2010 and Civil Appeal No. 2683 of 2010) wherein the import of “personal information” envisaged under Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act has been exemplified in the context of earlier ratios laid down by the same Court in the matter(s) of Canara Bank Vs. C.S. Shyam in Civil Appeal No. 22 of 2009; Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commissioner & Ors., MANU/SC/0816/2012 : (2013) 1 SCC 212 and R.K. Jain vs. Union of India & Anr., MANU/SC/0384/2013 : (2013) 14 SCC 794. In the said matter, the Hon’ble Supreme held that “ 59. Reading of the aforesaid judicial precedents, in our opinion, would indicate that personal records, including name, address, physical, mental and psychological status, marks obtained, grades and answer sheets, are all treated as personal information. Similarly, professional records, including qualification, performance, evaluation reports, ACRs, disciplinary proceedings, etc. are all personal information. Medical records, treatment, choice of medicine, list of hospitals and doctors visited, findings recorded, including that of the family members, information relating to assets, liabilities, income tax returns, details of investments, lending and borrowing, etc. are personal information. Such personal information is entitled to protection from unwarranted invasion of privacy and conditional access is available when stipulation of larger public interest is satisfied. This list is indicative and not exhaustive...” In view of the same, the Appellate Authority found that the requested information is exempted from disclosure under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act and accordingly did not find any deficiency in the response.

In view of the above-made observations, the Appeal was accordingly dismissed since the appellate authority found that there was no need to interfere with the decision of the respondent.

Click here to read the judgment.

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