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“Response to the query would be an answer either affirmative or negative, depending on the available records…”: Appellate Authority, SEBI, Part 3.

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…”.

After perusal of the 2nd query and the response provided thereto. It is observed that the appellant sought whether the letter referred therein, was received by SEBI. Appellate authority did not agree with the respondent that the said query does not fall under the purview of information as defined under the RTI Act, since 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.

It was noted that the appellant, vide query number 3, inter alia, sought details of letters sent by him through Speed Port/ Registered Post/ emails. Mr Singh was of the view that if the appellant has sent the letters, he should have copy of the same along with details of the date sent. It is also understood that the date of delivery of the letter sent by speed post/ registered post, can also be tracked. It was noted that the information was already in the possession of the citizen cannot be said to be “held” by the public authority. In this context, reference is made to the matter of Shri S.P. Goyal vs. Shri Pragati Kumar & Ors. (order dated January 24, 2008), wherein the Hon’ble CIC held that “Further, the obligation of a respondent extends only to providing information which it “holds” or controls in terms of Section 2(f) of the RTI Act. If it can be established through evidence that a party/ applicant himself possesses an information which he has sought from a public authority, such information can be denied to him. This appellant has already been provided the judgement dated 30.3.2007 of the Income Tax Appellate Authority. The information, therefore, is already in appellant’s possession and cannot therefore be said to be “held”-much less “exclusively held”-by the public authority in terms of Section 2(j) of the RTI Act.”.

In view of these observations, it was remitted the application dated 2nd of April, 2021 to the respondent for reconsidering query number 2, and to provide appropriate response within 15 working days from the date of receipt of this order.

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.

Click here to read the entire order.

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