Appellant had not requested for any ‘information’ as defined under section 2(f) of the RTI Act: 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 Suraj Joshi v CPIO, SEBI, Mumbai (Appeal No. 4320 of 2021) dealt with an issue in connection with Section 2 (f) and Section 7 (9) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

The appellant, Mr Suraj Joshi had filed an application 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 letter on the 9th of June, 2021, filed by the appellate. After receiving a letter from the respondent on 9th of June, 2021, on his application, the appellate decided to file an appeal on the 15th of June, 2021. In his application, the appellate was seeking the following information:

  1. As per the records available with SEBI, has any Individual/Investors/or any Concerned party has lodged any Complaint against this Company since 2015, if Yes please provide brief details of the same which may include
  2. a) Total number of complaints received each year
  3. b) Mode of receiving complaints stated in point 2 (a) above (Post, email, online, others if any)

“7. Along with SEBI are there any other Government agencies/Legal force looking after this Case/Complaints, if yes please provide the details of the same.”

  1. On Dated 22/05/2017 a complaint letter against this company along with necessary attachments was sent to SEBI BKC office Bandra vide speed post no EM688756650IN (Complaint no 55861 ). In this regards provide the following information
  2. a) Date when SEBI registered the above Complaint?
  3. b) Name of the officer to whom the Complaint was allotted?
  4. c) Current status of the Complaint?
  5. d) Till Date has been any communication with the complainant with regards to the above complaint lodged ? If Yes Please provide the details of the same
  6. e) Is there any other documentation available in this regards with SEBI ? If yes please provide the details of the same.

The respondent, in response to query number 2, informed that the information sought is maintained in separate individual files, placed at multiple locations across SEBI and collating the same for providing response to query would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority. Hence the same is exempt under section 7(9) of the RTI Act, 2005. The appellant, in his appeal, inter alia, submitted that it was deemed that the information sought by him was only in respect to the information available with SEBI head office.

The appellant filed the appeal on the grounds of that the information was refused. . On perusal of the appeal, it appears that the appellant is not satisfied with the reply to query numbers 2, 7 and 9.

For the queries, the appellate authority, Mr Anand Baiwar, made reference to the matter of Hon’ble CIC, in the matter of Vineet Pandey vs. CPIO, United India Insurance Company Limited (Judgment dated January 21, 2021), wherein similar observations were made by the Hon’ble CIC. Further, in the matter of Shri Shantaram Walavalkar vs. CPIO, SEBI (Decision dated January 17, 2013), it was noted that the Hon’ble CIC held: “… we would also like to observe that, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the citizen has the responsibility to specify the exact information he wants; he is not supposed to seek any opinion or comments or clarifications or interpretations from the CPIO…”. Mr Baiwar also made reference in the matter of Shri Kunal vs. CPIO, Syndicate Bank (Order dated October 06, 2015). In view of these observations, the appellate authority found no 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.

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