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In the absence of any reason that prevented the appellant from filing the first appeal in time, the appeal is considered time barred..: 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 Geeta Khattar v CPIO, SEBI, Mumbai (Appeal No. 4303 of 2021) dealt with an issue in connection with Section 2 (f) and Section 19 (1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

The appellant, Ms Geeta Khattar had filed an application via RTI MIS Portal on the 2nd of April, 2021 under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The respondent responded to the application by a letter on the 30th of April, 2021, filed by the appellate. After receiving a letter from the respondent on 30th of April, 2021, on her application, the appellate decided to file an appeal on the 10th of June, 2021.

In her application dated 2nd of April, 2021, the appellate was seeking the following information:

  1. Provide/Upload a copy of an Order against the CPGRAMS case no. DARPG/P/2021/0…4 is closed.
  2. Provide SEBIs official weblink where the same copy of an Order is electronically saved by SEBI.
  3. Provide case no. if the same case no. DARPG/P/2021/0….4 is already dealt.

Mr Baiwar noted that under Section 19(1) of the RTI Act, ‘an aggrieved person may prefer the first appeal within thirty days from the receipt of the response from the CPIO of the concerned public authority’. In the instant case, the impugned response from the respondent is dated 30th of April, 2021. The appellant, therefore, should have filed the first appeal on or before expiry of thirty days from the date of receipt of the said response. As noted above, the appellant has filed this first appeal on June 10, 2021 i.e. after the last date permissible under the Right to Information Act, 2005. In this appeal, the appellant has neither requested for condonation of delay nor made any submission regarding the reason for the delay. In the absence of any reason that prevented the appellant from filing the first appeal in time, it was considered that this appeal was time barred and hence, liable to be dismissed.

The respondent, in response to the query numbers 1 and 2, informed that since the complaint has been lodged through DARPG Portal, the audit trail, including action taken is readily available on CPGRAMS after login. In response to query number 3, the respondent informed that the complaint no. DARPG/P/2021/00….4 was received by SEBI on January 22, 2021 through DARPG Portal. The respondent also informed that the said complaint was closed on January 27, 2021 with the remark “Matter has been already examined by SEBI, hence closed”, since no new facts were brought out in the said complaint.

The appellant filed the appeal on the grounds of that the information provided was incomplete, misleading or false information. The appellant, in her appeal, reiterated the query raised in her application.

For the queries, the appellate authority, Mr Anand Baiwar, made reference to the matter of Hon’ble CIC, in the matter of Shri S.P. Goyal vs. Shri Pragati Kumar & Ors. (order dated January 24, 2008), wherein the Hon’ble CIC held that “Further, the obligation of a respondent extends only to providing information which it “holds” or controls in terms of Section 2(f) of the RTI Act. If it can be established through evidence that a party/ applicant himself possesses an information which he has sought from a public authority, such information can be denied to him. This appellant has already been provided the judgement dated 30.3.2007 of the Income Tax Appellate Authority. The information, therefore, is already in appellant’s possession and cannot therefore be said to be “held”-much less “exclusively held”-by the public authority in terms of Section 2(j) of the RTI Act.” In view of these observations, the appellate authority is of the view that the respondent is not obliged to provide the information sought by the appellant. Without prejudice to the same, it was noted that the respondent has guided the appellant to login to the CPGRAMS portal for accessing the requested information. Accordingly, Mr Baiwar did not find any deficiency in the response.

On consideration, appellate authority Mr Baiwar noted that the respondent has adequately addressed the query by providing the information available with him regarding the case number DARPG/P/2021/0….4 received by SEBI on 22nd of January, 2021, through DARPG Portal. Accordingly, no deficiency was found in the response provided by the respondent.

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 entire order.

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