“the said queries cannot be construed as seeking ‘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 A Sirajudeen v CPIO, SEBI, Mumbai (Appeal No. 4348 of 2021) dealt with an issue in connection with Section 2 (f) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

The appellant, Mr A Sirajudeen had filed an application via RTI MIS Portal on the 4th of June, 2021 under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The respondent responded to the application by a letter on the 15th of June, 2021, filed by the appellate. After receiving a letter from the respondent on 15th of June, 2021, on his application, the appellate decided to file an appeal on the 17th of June, 2021. In his application, the appellate was seeking the following information:

“I spoke to SEBI helpline, on 04/June/2021. I told, I want to complain about Trade24x and Digitex technologies.. I also said that the above 2 is FOREX related.. SEBI helpline replied me that, regarding FOREX, need to complain RBI, but not SEBI.. is it true sir ? I just want to know.. Forex will comes under SEBI (SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE BOARD OF INDIA) ? OR Forex will comes under RBI (Reserve Bank of India) ? OR Any other Department.”

The respondent, in response to the application, informed that the queries are in the nature of seeking/ opinion clarification and accordingly, cannot be construed as “information”, as defined under section 2(f) of the RTI Act. The respondent also advised the appellant to lodge his grievance (if any), on the SCORES portal and also refer to the FAQs available on the SEBI website. Further, the respondent also provided the toll free helpline numbers launched by SEBI to facilitate replies to various queries of the general public on matters relating to securities market.

The appellant has not mentioned any specific ground for filing the appeal. The appellant, in his appeal, reiterated his queries raised in the application.

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…”. In view of these observations, the appellate authority found no deficiency in the response.

On perusal of the submission, it appears that the appellant has grievance regarding Trade24x and Digitex technologies. Mr Anand Baiwar, made reference to the matter of Hon’ble CIC, in the matter of Sh. Triveni Prasad Bahuguna vs. LIC of India, Lucknow (Decision dated September 6, 2012), held: “The Appellant is informed that … redressal of grievance does not fall within the ambit of the RTI Act rather it is up to the Appellant to approach the correct grievance redressal forum…” No defiency in the response was found.

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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