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. 4308 of 2021, Appeal No. 4309 of 2021, Appeal No. 4310 of 2021, Appeal No. 4311 of 2021, Appeal No. 4312 of 2021, Appeal No. 4313 of 2021, Appeal No. 4314 of 2021, Appeal No. 4315 of 2021, Appeal No. 4316 of 2021, Appeal No. 4317 of 2021, Appeal No. 4318 of 2021 and Appeal No. 4319 of 2021) dealt with an issue in connection with the Section 2 (f) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
The appellant, Ms Geeta Khattar had filed 5 applications via RTI MIS Portal on the 16th of May, 2021 and filed 7 applications via RTI MIS Portal on the 19th of May, 2021 under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The respondent responded to the application by a common letter on the 10th of June, 2021, filed by the appellate. After receiving a letter from the respondent on 7th of May, 2021, on her application, the appellate decided to file twelve (12) appeals on the 15th of June, 2021 (SEBIH/A/E/21/00212, SEBIH/A/E/21/00213, SEBIH/A/E/21/00215, SEBIH/A/E/21/00216, SEBIH/A/E/21/00217, SEBIH/A/E/21/00218, SEBIH/A/E/21/00219, SEBIH/A/E/21/00220, SEBIH/A/E/21/00221, SEBIH/A/E/21/00222, SEBIH/A/E/21/00223 and SEBIH/A/E/21/00224).
The appellant had filed the 12 appeals seeking the copies of Action History of various complaints filed on the SCORES Portal. The respondent, in response to the applications, observed that the appellant has filed 118 applications under the RTI Act (since April 01, 2021 till date) seeking similar information in the same matter. The respondent also mentioned that the Hon’ble Central Information Commission (CIC) in various cases has held that repetitive use of RTI Act for seeking same or similar information is abuse of the RTI Act. It has been further held that an applicant is expected to seek all the requisite information in single RTI application and that an applicant does not have the right to repeat the same or similar request for information under the Act. It has also been held that repeated filling of applications amount to wastage of public resources and time and misuse of the RTI Act. Further, various courts have also observed that misuse of RTI Act has to be appropriately dealt with otherwise the public would loose faith and confidence in the Sunshine Act. A beneficent statute, when made a tool for mischief and abuse must be checked in accordance with law. In view of the same, the appellant was advised to refer to the information which has already been provided by SEBI in response to the appellant’s earlier applications.
The appellant filed the appeal on the grounds of that the information provided was incomplete, misleading or false information. Appellate Authority noted that the appellant has filed multiple applications and sought information pertaining to complaints filed by her on the SCORES Portal. Further, he did not find any reason to disbelieve the observation of the respondent that the appellant has filed 118 applications (since 1st of April, 2021 till date) seeking similar information in the same matter. It was also noted that the appellant has been advised to refer to the information which has already been provided by SEBI in response to her earlier applications.