Can the correspondence between SEBI and CBI be disclosed under RTI?
The appellant referred to a news item published in the Indian Express of 24 February 2006, and filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). He wanted information regarding the investigation conducted both by the SEBI and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the IPO/ shares scam in Gujarat/ Maharashtra. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the correspondence with the CBI under section 8(1)(d) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. For the remaining information he asked the appellant to visit the SEBI website and see all orders passed against various entities for the violation of various provisions of securities law.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the PIO has nowhere in his order claimed that the desired information does not exist; he has only cast the responsibility of searching out the information on the appellant. The Commission held that the appellant had referred to some serious violations of the provisions of various securities law by entities in Gujarat and Maharashtra and the PIO should have tried to find out those specific cases which pertained to the reported violations and provided the relevant information to the appellant instead of asking him to scan the website and identify the relevant orders. The Commission directed the PIO to verify the relevant records of the case and to provide to the appellant the details of the cases of investigation undertaken by the SEBI into the alleged violations by various entities relating to IPO/shares in the State of Gujarat and Maharashtra around that time. The Commission stated that the PIO shall only provide such details as he can find out on his own since the appellant has provided no specific references to any cases and has merely referred to a general news item.
Citation: Mr. Vinod Mehta v. Securities and Exchange Board of India in File No.CIC/SM/A/2011/002390
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/652
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission