In this context, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in the matter of Central Public Information Officer, Supreme Court of India Vs. Subhash Chandra Agarwal (order dated November 13, 2019 in Civil Appeal No. 10044 of 2010 with Civil Appeal No. 10045 of 2010 and Civil Appeal No. 2683 of 2010), held that: “ 59. Reading of the aforesaid judicial precedents, in our opinion, would indicate that personal records, including name, address, physical, mental and psychological status, marks obtained, grades and answer sheets, are all treated as personal information. Similarly, professional records, including qualification, performance, evaluation reports, ACRs, disciplinary proceedings, etc. are all personal information. Medical records, treatment, choice of medicine, list of hospitals and doctors visited, findings recorded, including that of the family members, information relating to assets, liabilities, income tax returns, details of investments, lending and borrowing, etc. are personal information. Such personal information is entitled to protection from unwarranted invasion of privacy and conditional access is available when stipulation of larger public interest is satisfied. This list is indicative and not exhaustive…“. Further, no larger public interest would be served in disclosing the information as sought by the appellant. In view of the same, it was agreed with response of the respondent that the requested information is exempt from disclosure under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.
Without prejudice to the above, it was noted that the respondent has guided the appellant to access the objective of the working group which is available on the SEBI website. Accordingly, did not find any deficiency in the response.
The appellant, vide query number 2, sought the criteria on the basis of which people were shortlisted to become part of the group which worked and floated the Consultation Paper on the Review of Regulatory Framework for Investment Advisers on January 2020.
The respondent, in response to query number 2, informed that the information sought by the appellant is exempt under Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act as the same pertains to the internal functioning of SEBI and relates to the systems and procedures followed by SEBI. Further, the said information is strategic in nature, disclosure of which may hamper the decision making by SEBI in its supervisory and regulatory role. The appellant, in her appeal, inter alia, submitted that the information was sought in order to maintain transparency about criteria for shortlisting.