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“Is silence the answer?” says Respondent in the court of SEBI, Part 2.

The respondent, in response to the query number 1, informed that SEBI had received the said letter. The respondent also informed that as a defaulter in the matter, an opportunity of personal hearing was granted to the appellant on 1st of January, 2020. After the hearing, considering the appellant’s request and on analysis of the documents submitted during the hearing, the pension account was released on 6th of February, 2020, and it was also informed that no other account would be released. Further, the appellant was advised to file an appeal before the Hon’ble SAT, if aggrieved with the said decision of SEBI. The respondent informed that the recovery proceedings shall continue till the amount stated in the recovery notice is recovered.

Appellate Authority Mr Amarjeet Singh perused the query and the response provided thereto. It was noted that the respondent has informed that the letter dated 13th of January, 2021, was received by SEBI. It is observed that the appellant sought whether the letter referred therein, was responded to. On consideration, it was found that the response to the query would be an answer either affirmative or negative, depending on the available records. Therefore, the respondent shall reconsider the request and provide an appropriate answer.

The respondent, in response to the query numbers 2, 5, 6 and 7, observed that the same are in the nature of seeking clarification/opinion and hence cannot be construed as seeking “information” as defined under section 2(f) of the RTI Act.

On consideration, it was found that the query numbers 2, 6, 7 (except first part of query number 6), are in the nature of eliciting a clarification or opinion of the respondent, which cannot be construed as an information available on record. In this regard, it was noted that the Hon’ble CIC, in the matter of Shri Shantaram Walavalkar vs. CPIO, SEBI (Decision dated January 17, 2013), 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 the same, it was found that the respondent did not have an obligation to provide such clarification or opinion under the RTI Act.

The respondent, in response to the said queries, observed that the same are in the nature of seeking clarification/opinion and hence cannot be construed as seeking “information” as defined under section 2(f) of the RTI Act. However, it was informed that the recovery proceedings shall continue till the amount stated in the recovery notice is recovered.

On perusal of the queries and the response provided thereto, appellate authority agreed with the observation of the respondent that the said queries are in the nature of seeking clarification/opinion. Accordingly, it was found that the respondent did not have any obligation to provide such clarification or opinion under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Notwithstanding the same, it was noted that the respondent has informed regarding continuation of the recovery proceedings till the recovery of the amount mentioned in the recovery notice. In view of the same, no deficiency was found in the response.

“Is silence the answer?” says Respondent in the court of SEBI, Part 3.

 

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