Should SEBI collect information from private entities for providing to RTI applicants?
The appellant sought a variety of information regarding transactions between several brokers and the stock exchanges from Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided the available information and stated that the SEBI did not have the relevant records in its possession. The appellant argued that being the regulator of the stock exchanges and the brokers, it has the duty of SEBI to collect the desired information from all concerned and provide it to him. He added that the SEBI has the responsibility to protect the investors and, therefore, cannot take the plea that it does not have the information. SEBI submitted that it was completely beyond its capacity to maintain and retain all the records generated by hundreds of thousands of brokers and their associates in the course of their transactions. SEBI submitted that it did not maintain the kind of information sought by the appellant in the normal course of its functioning and, therefore, the information cannot be provided.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) referred to the 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 RTI Act which defines ‘information’ to mean that material too which is held by a private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any law for the time being in force. The Commission noted that the SEBI cannot be expected to collect all kinds of information sought by information seekers from thousands of entities it regulates, on a case to case basis, and provide the same. The Commission observed that the SEBI may like to clarify in its website what kind of information it normally holds and the kind of information it, in the normal course of its functioning, obtains, by way of reports and returns, from the regulated entities. The Commission dismissed the appeal as the available information was provided to the appellant.
Citation: Mr. Pawan Kumar Agrawal v. Securities and Exchange Board of India in File No.CIC/SM/C/2011/000891, 972 & 976
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/235
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