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 Pradeep Vidhani v CPIO, SEBI, Mumbai (Appeal No. 4298 of 2021) dealt with an issue in connection with the Right to Information Act, 2005.
The appellant, Mr Pradeep Vidhani had filed an application via RTI MIS Portal on the 13th of April, 2021 under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The respondent responded to the application by a letter on the 11th of May, 2021, filed by the appellate. After receiving a letter from the respondent on 11th of May, 2021 on his application, the appellate decided to file an appeal on the 5th of June, 2021, which the Office of Appellate authority had received on the 7th of June. In his application, the appellate was seeking the following information with respect to GIC Housing Finance Limited (company):
7(A). Annual Accounts for the years 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, as submitted to the Department, along with all the information available with SEBI with respect to the company.
- Inspection of record copy/ certified extracts of the Audited and Annual Report submitted by the company from the year 2015 to 2020, along with certified copy of documents sought above.
The respondent in response to query numbers 7(A) and 8, informed that in terms of SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, listed companies are required to file reports, statements, documents and any other information with the recognized stock exchange(s), where it has listed its specified securities. The respondent also provided the links of the websites of the exchanges, for accessing such information.
The appellant filed the appeal on the grounds that he was aggrieved by the response provided by the respondent and submitted that it is not clear from the response whether the requested information is available with the respondent while also alleging that the respondent is trying to benefit the concerned party in some way or the other.
For the queries, the appellate authority, Mr Anand Baiwar, made reference to the matter of Hon’ble CIC, in the matter of Shri K Lall vs. Shri M K Bagri (CIC/AT/A/2007/00112, order dated April 12, 2007) held that “….. unless an information is exclusively held and controlled by a public authority, that information cannot be said to be an information accessible under the RTI Act. Inferentially it would mean that once a certain information is placed in the public domain accessible to the citizens either freely, or on payment of a pre-determined price, that information cannot be said to be ‘held’ or ‘under the control of’ the public authority and, thus would cease to be an information accessible under the RTI Act.” Similar observations were made by this forum in the matter of Nirali Mehta vs. CPIO, SEBI (October 15, 2018).
The appellant authority found the claim of the appellate of the respondent trying to benefit the other party as baseless and unsubstantiated allegation which is not tenable.
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.