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Under the RTI Act, the citizen…is not supposed to seek any opinion or comments or clarifications or interpretations from the CPIO.: 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 P L N Rao v CPIO, SEBI, Mumbai (Appeal No. 4284 of 2021) dealt with an issue in connection with Section 2 (f) of the Right to Information Act.

The appellant, Mr P L N Rao had filed an application via RTI MIS Portal on the 9th of April, 2021 under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The respondent responded to the application by a letter on the 6th of May, 2021, filed by the appellate. After receiving a letter from the respondent on 6th of May, 2021 on his application, the appellate decided to file an appeal on the 27th of May, 2021, which the Office of Appellate authority had received on the 2nd of June. In his application, the appellate was seeking the following information:

“1. Information furnished by Divis Labs before SEBI for the years 2019-2020 and 2020-21. 2. Based on which issues SEBI is promoting the Divis Labs Share, kindly furnish the complete related information before SEBI by Divis Labs management regarding its expansion activities- Xerox copies may be furnished. 3. Whether Divis Labs management has informed SEBI about the pending cases against this industry before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, National Human Rights Commission, Telangana State High Court, during the period 2019-20 and 2020-21 and these cases were filed by victimized farmers, toddy tappers and other farmers which are pending. Kindly furnish xerox copy of the intimation given by Divis Labs management to SEBI and also other related copies. 5. Information available with SEBI regarding the Divis Labs for the period 2010 -2021 March. Xerox copies may be furnished.

  1. Xerox copy of complete information relating to Divis Labs, readily available with SEBI as on date kindly furnish the same.”

The respondent to this replied by saying that the information sought in query numbers 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7, are not available with the SEBI. To this, the appellant requested re-verification.

On perusal of query numbers 1, 2, 5 and 7, it was noted that the appellant has sought information available with SEBI regarding Divis Labs. It is observed that the respondent, vide his response dated May 06, 2021, informed about the various orders passed by SEBI in the matter of Divi’s Laboratories Limited, pursuant to the completion of the investigation. Therefore, the respondent shall reconsider the queries and provide an appropriate response under the RTI Act, 2005.

For query number 3, the appellate authority, Mr Anand Baiwar, made reference to the matter 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.” Further, he noted that the 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, Mr Baiwar found that the respondent cannot be obliged to provide such non– available information.

In view of the above-made observations, the appellate authority remitted the matter to the respondent for de novo consideration of query numbers 1, 2, 5 and 7 of the appellant’s application dated April 09, 2021, and to send an appropriate response to the appellant in terms of RTI Act, within 15 working days from the date of receipt of this order.

Click here to read the judgment.

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