Seeking the copy of the shareholding pattern filed by NSE with annual return
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs seeking information regarding shareholding pattern as filed by NSE with annual return and the name of the officials who are responsible for scrutiny of the annual returns of NSE since incorporation because at the time of incorporation it was Government Company but records show it is Private Sector Company. He also wanted to know the status of his letter addressed to the Minister of Corporate Affairs regarding the functioning of ROC’s regarding false information being filed by the companies and action taken under section 628 of Companies Act. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed the appellant that the information regarding shareholding pattern and the name of the officials is available in the public domain and thus cannot be treated as held or under the control of the public authority. Regarding his letter, the PIO informed him that his letter was referred to the Regional Director, Ministry of Corporate Affairs at Mumbai for examination. The RD has furnished a report, whereby ROC has stated that there are no apparent facts/ information available in his office to show that false information has been furnished in Form -20B attracting provisions of section 628 of the Companies Act. The First appellate Authority (FAA) directed the PIO to forward the share holding pattern for the last three years filed by NSE, as available in the electronic record of the Company and forward a copy of letter received from ROC, Mumbai. Regarding the name of officials who were responsible for scrutiny of the annual report, the PIO was directed to inform the appellant that Section 234 of the Companies Act, 1956 authorizes the Registrar of Companies to examine / scrutinize the records as filed and available in the record.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the respondent submitted that all data on the electronic portal provides available information 24X7, 365 days a year, from anywhere in the world to the users/information seekers. The provisions of Section 610 of the Companies Act, 1956, provides that any person may inspect any documents kept by Registrar and / or may obtain a copy of any document, certified to be true copy after paying the requisite fee. The fees have been prescribed under Rule 21A Companies (Central Government’s) General Rules and Forms, 1956.
View of CIC
The Commission referred to an earlier decision of the High Court of Delhi [W.P. (c) 11271/2009 in the matter of Registrar of Companies & Others Vs. Dharmendra Kumar Garg & another], wherein it was held nothing inconsistent lies between the scheme provided under section 610 of the Companies Act and the provisions of the RTI Act. The RTI Act is a general law which deals with the right of a citizen to access information available with a public authority, subject to the conditions and limitations prescribed in the said Act. On the other hand, Section 610 of the Companies Act is a piece of special legislation, which deals specifically with the right of any person to inspect and obtain records i.e. information from the ROC. Therefore, the later general law cannot be read or understood to have abrogated the earlier special law. The Commission rejected the appeal stating that the fees prescribed under the Companies Act will prevail over the fees prescribed by the RTI Rules.
The view of the different benches has differed on this count. Would it be not appropriate to align all fee rules with those prescribed under the RTI Act?
Citation: Mr. K. Lall v. Ministry of Corporate Affairs in Case No. CIC/SS/A/2012/001934
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1161
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