Disclosure of commission paid to insurance agents under RTI
The appellant sought information regarding agency commission paid to two agents of the Company in respect of his four insurance policies. The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided point wise information The First Appellate Authority (FAA) upheld PIO’s decision stating that the policy numbers for which monthly commission was disbursed to an agent could not be disclosed 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 RTI Act. The appellant produced the copies of the Disbursement Vouchers showing release of agency Commission to the two above mentioned agents which were blank in the column marked ‘Policy Numbers’, submitted that the four policies mentioned by him in his RTI application were taken by him directly from the Company and never through either of the two agents who were receiving agency Commission in respect of the appellant’s insurance policies. He alleged that the practice followed by the company not to provide the Disbursement Voucher and the policy numbers for which Commission was being released to a particular agent was an opaque practice which allowed possible misuse of the system to release agency Commission to agents who had in fact never sold those insurance products. The respondent submitted that the Disbursement Vouchers were computer generated and not programmed to provide the policy numbers for which the agency Commission was being released.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) directed the PIO to provide the computer generated/ handwritten disbursement vouchers which clearly indicate the policy numbers in respect of which the agency fees is released in favour of the insurance agent. The Commission disagreed with the logic given by the FAA, that providing of the policy numbers on the disbursement vouchers will be detrimental to the commercial interests of the company, observing that the names, addresses and other details of the insured would not be given on the disbursement vouchers. The Commission stated that the instant case had brought a matter of larger public interest to the fore. Through the RTI application it was evident that at least in some branch offices of the Company, agency Commission was wrongly being released in a very non-transparent manner to insurance agents. At national level, this amount was likely to be fairly large and it was imperative to immediately put a stop to this financial impropriety by making the functioning of the public authority in the matter of issuing of disbursement vouchers, more transparent. Under section 19(8)(a)(iii) of the RTI Act, the Commission directed the CMD of the United India Insurance Company Limited to direct all its Regional Offices, Divisional Offices, Branch Offices etc. to make the system of release of Agency Commission more transparent by providing the policy numbers for which the Commission is being released, on the agency Commission bills and discharge vouchers.
Citation: Mr. Bhagwati Prasad Garg v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., in Appeal No. CIC/DS/A/2011/001918
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/488
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