RTI application seeking details of investigation conducted by SEBI
The appellant filed three applications under the Right to information (RTI) Act with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) seeking information for a period between 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2010 such as, the details of investigation conducted by SEBI into the scrips of the companies and details of the investigation conducted into the affairs of the persons associated with securities market. He also wanted to know the definition of the expressions ‘reasonable ground to believe’ and ‘person associated with securities market’. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information stating that the disclosure of the information would impede the process of investigation. Regarding the definition, it was informed that the RTI query did not amount to information within the meaning of section 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the respondent submitted that SEBI did not maintain the desired information in the form in which it had been sought. He explained that the SEBI undertook investigations against various entities for violation of various provisions of law and all these investigations resulted either in the imposition of some penalty or in the closure of the case. He pointed out that the details of such entities was not maintained centrally and were scattered over individual cases files. In view of the long period for which the information has been sought it would not be feasible to collate and compile all the details of the entities investigated into without scrutinising individual cases files, a task which would disproportionately divert the resources of SEBI. He suggested that if the appellant is interested to know about the investigation conducted against any particular entity, it would be possible to find out the status of such a case. The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the PIO has not made sufficient effort to provide any information and had merely refused to disclose the information by taking recourse to the exemption provision contained section 8(1)(h) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The CIC observed that statistical details about the number of cases taken up for investigation during a particular year and the number of cases in which any penalty was imposed or the case was closed should be available with the SEBI.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) directed the PIO to provide the cumulative statistical details about all the cases taken up for investigation including such details about the number of cases in which any penalty has been imposed and the number of cases which have been closed without any penalty. The Commission also directed to disclose the list of entities against whom penalties have been imposed and those whose cases had been closed. The Commission further held that if such information is not available in a compiled form for the entire period, it should at least be provided for only a period of one year i. e. 2009-2010.
Citation: Mr. Tatwesh Agarwal v. Securities and Exchange Board of India in File No.CIC/SM/A/2011/002094, 2105 & 2109
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/651
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