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 Lakshminarayanan Ramanujam v CPIO, SEBI, Mumbai (Appeal No. 4326 of 2021) dealt with an issue in connection with Section 2 (f) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
The appellant, Mr Lakshminarayanan Ramanujam had filed an application via RTI MIS Portal on the 21st of May, 2021 under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The respondent responded to the application by a letter on the 11th of June, 2021, filed by the appellate. After receiving a letter from the respondent on 16th of June, 2021, on his application, the appellate decided to file an appeal on the 11th of June, 2021. In his application, the appellate was seeking the following information:
“How much charge a client account is charged, for each sale and purchase of stock exchange listed company share by 1. NSDL 2. CDSL.”
The respondent, in response to the query, provided information regarding the relevant clauses of the Master Circular (reference no. SEBI/HO/MRD2/DDAP/CIRP/P/2021/18 dated February 05, 2021) dealing with Fees / Charges/ Tariff. The respondent also informed that Point Number 1.8.6 of the said Master Circular mentions about the dissemination of tariff/charge structure of DPs on the website of the depositories. The respondent also provided the link for accessing the Master Circular on the SEBI website. The appellant was also advised to access the websites of NSDL and CDSL for specific information as sought in the query.
The appellant has filed the appeal on the ground that the information provided was incomplete, misleading or false. The appellant, in his appeal, inter alia, stated that SEBI should provide the charges of NSDL for each equity sale transaction, for clarity.
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). 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.