Appellant’s request for names & address of those who made representations leading to SEBI’s Noti. no. PR 03/2011 was denied u/s 8(1)(e) - CIC: comments received from various sources as a part of regulatory process are not open to public
1. The appellant, Shri Ashok Kripalani, submitted RTI application dated August 28, 2013 before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Securities & Exchange Board of India, New Delhi seeking information regarding notification No. PR 03/2011 dated 06/06/2011 issued against representation of the public/private parties and on whose representation it was issued etc. through a total of 2 points.
2. Vide letter dated September 26, 2013, the CPIO furnished information on point 2 and denied information on point 1 u/s 8(1) (e) of RTI Act, 2005. Dissatisfied with the reply given by the CPIO, the appellant preferred an appeal dated October 8, 2013 to the first appellate authority (FAA) stating he had been wrongly denied the information. Vide reply dated November 11, 2013, the FAA upheld the decision of the CPIO.
3. Dissatisfied with the public authority, the appellant preferred the present appeal before the Commission seeking information.
4. The matter was heard by the Commission. The appellant stated that he requested for information of names and address of representatives who made representations leading to SEBI’s Notification no. PR 03/2011 dated 06/06/2011 whereby the SEBI increased the limitation period for filing disputes which was increased to 3 years from just 6 months retrospectively. Therefore, he had filed RTI application but the respondents had denied the information stating that information on representation was held by SEBI in fiduciary capacity u/s 8(1) (e) of the Act. The respondents stated that as part of the regulatory process, SEBI seeks comments from various sources and the comments/inputs received were not open to the public as these were received in a confidential manner, either on a dedicated email ID set up for the specific purpose, or by the official designated for the purpose implying that the representations were received in confidence and in trust. The representations were treated as strategic and regulatory inputs and were at no point of time made public/hosted on the website. In case the comments received from various parties and/or their names/details were made subject to disclosure, it would have an adverse impact in the strategic decision making and policy decisions of SEBI and therein hamper the regulatory functioning of SEBI. Further, the representations/inputs received were third party information and if they followed third party procedure as laid down u/s 11 of the RTI Act, 2005, the same will not be feasible as representations were received from a large number of entities. During the hearing the appellant took the plea of the larger public interest which he had not taken up earlier. No larger public interest will be served by making the information in public.
5. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Central Board of Secondary Education and Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors. [(2011)8SCC497] has observed that :
“21… The term ‘fiduciary’ refers to a person having a duty to act for the benefit of another, showing good faith and condour, where such other person reposes trust and special confidence in the person owing or discharging the duty. The term ‘fiduciary relationship’ is used to describe a situation or transaction where one person (beneficiary) places complete confidence in another person (fiduciary) in regard to his affairs, business or transaction/s. The term also refers to a person who holds a thing in trust for another (beneficiary). The fiduciary is expected to act in confidence and for the benefit and advantage of the beneficiary, and use good faith and fairness in dealing with the beneficiary or the things belonging to the beneficiary. If the beneficiary has entrusted anything to the fiduciary, to hold the thing in trust or to execute certain acts in regard to or with reference to the entrusted thing, the fiduciary has to act in confidence and expected not to disclose the thing or information to any third party…”
5. In view of the above findings of Hon’ble Supreme Court, the Commission holds that information cannot be provided to the appellant u/s 8 (1)(e) of the RTI Act, 2005. The appeal is disposed of.
Citation: Shri Ashok Kripalani v. Securities & Exchange Board of India in Appeal No. CIC/MP/A/2014/000815