Details of insurance policies filed by the General Insurance Companies under file and use policy
The appellant sought the details of the insurance policies filed by the General Insurance Companies under file and use policy/ regulation, which are permitted by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) for General insurance companies for circulation in India. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed the appellant that the information is available on the website of the Public Authority.
The appellant argued that it was obligatory on the part of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) to suo-moto place on its website the full terms and conditions of all the insurance products approved by it as soon as it gives clearance to the insurers for marketing the said product. He also stated that in the absence of such transparency, the insurers were free to make changes in any of the clauses in the final marketed product thereby taking undue advantage of the insured who would not have a clue as to original clauses as approved by IRDA. The PIO submitted that since 2001, there were about 500 tariff products which were given approval by the Tariff Advisory Committee and about 1500 non– tariff products which were marketed by the LIC of India and about 25 – 26 General insurance companies both in the public and private sectors. He submitted that the authority would be in a position to upload on its website all the tariff products – their terms and conditions – within the next 4 to 6 weeks. However the uploading of the other non– tariff products would take time as it was a huge task. The PIO expressed the fear that the disclosure of displaying the terms and conditions of the insurance policies filed with the Authority will harm the competitive position of the insurance company and is exempt as per 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 RTI Act.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) did not agree with the argument given by the respondent that the terms and conditions of each of the marketed insurance products as approved by IRDA need not be placed on the website of the regulator as in any case the same is uploaded on the websites of the insurers. The Commission held that this matter is of overwhelming larger public interest and begs for complete and total transparency. Under section 19(8)(a)(iii), section 19(8)(a)(iv) and section 25(5) of the RTI Act, the Commission recommended to the Chairman IRDA to take appropriate action to put up on the website of the regulator, the complete and full terms and conditions of all the insurance products as approved by them. The Commission directed the disclosure of only the approved insurance products and held that the IRDA is free to take action as per section 10 of the RTI Act, in case they apprehended that the disclosure of information relating to any particular part of the approved insurance products would hurt the commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property resulting in causing harm to the competitive position of any of the Insurance Companies.
Citation: Mr. Prem Singh Thakur v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., in Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2011/003339
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/548
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission