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“Appellant Authority was of the opinion that the respondent has adequately addressed the query and no interference of this forum is warranted at this stage…”: SEBI, Part 2.

Mr Singh is of the view that the information with respect to orders passed by SEBI can be found out by the appellant by accessing the information available in the public domain. In this context, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Registrar of Companies & Ors. Vs. Dharmendra Kumar Garg & Anr. and the Hon’ble CIC in Shri K Lall vs. Shri M K Bagri (CIC/AT/A/2007/00112, order dated April 12, 2007) held that if the relevant information is available in the public domain, the same cannot be said to be information held by the public authority and consequently there is no obligation to provide such information to an applicant under the RTI Act.

Notwithstanding the above, it was noted that the respondent has provided the information available with him regarding the order dated June 16, 2016 passed by SEBI, directing the depositories to freeze beneficiary accounts of Albula Investment Fund Ltd, Cresta Fund Ltd and APMS Investment Fund Ltd. In view of these observations, Appellant Authority was of the opinion that the respondent has adequately addressed the query and no interference of this forum is warranted at this stage.

On perusal of the queries 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, it is observed that the queries are in the nature of seeking clarification/opinion from the respondent. Further, the appellant expects that the respondent should analyse the documents and then provide information to the appellant. It is understood that the respondent is not supposed to create information; or to interpret information; or to furnish clarification to the appellant under the ambit of the RTI Act. The respondent is only a communicator of information based on the records held in the office and hence, he cannot be expected to do research work to deduce anything from the material therein and then supply it to him.

In this context, similar observations were made by the Hon’ble CIC in the matter of Shyam Chandra Shrivastava vs. CPIO, Life Insurance Corporation of India (Order dated July 09, 2021). It was also 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 these observations, Appellant Authority did not find any deficiency in the response. It was also noted that the information regarding the order dated June 16, 2016 passed by SEBI, has already been provided by the respondent.

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. The Appeal is accordingly disposed of.

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