Copy of bioeffectiveness study conducted by ICAR for M/s United Phosphorous Ltd was denied u/s 8(1)(d) - Appellant claimed larger public interest - Respondent: no tests conducted with all parameters - CIC: submit affidavit that information is unavailable
According to the appeal, the Appellant filed an RTI application on 19th April 2013 seeking information in two paragraphs regarding Chlorpropham 50% HN on the basis of a “bioeffectiveness study for M/s United Phosphorous Limited”, conducted by the Respondents in 20-02-04. In his response dated 23.4.2013, the CPIO stated that the information sought in the first paragraph had been generated for the firm M/s United Phosphorous Limited, Mumbai under a consultancy project for which the firm had paid consultancy charges to the Respondents. Therefore, the information was treated as commercial confidence / intellectual property, the disclosure of which could harm the competitive position of a third party i.e. M/s United Phosphorous Limited. Accordingly, the CPIO denied the information under Section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act, 2005.
2. The Appellant filed yet another RTI application on 7.5.2013, seeking the same information as in the application dated 19.4.2013, but without making a reference to the Bioeffectiveness study conducted by the Respondents for the third party. The CPIO responded to this application on 22.5.2013 and denied information on the first paragraph by invoking 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, 2005, on the ground that it had been generated for another firm under a consultancy project for which the firm had paid consultancy charges to the Respondents. He further stated that the information was treated as commercial confidence / intellectual property, the disclosure of which could harm the competitive position of a third party. As regards the second paragraph, the CPIO stated that this information was not available with the Respondents.
3. In both cases, the Appellant filed an identical undated appeal to the First Appellate Authority. In his order dated 9.7.2013 on both the appeals, the FAA upheld the reply of the CPIO on both the paragraphs. Aggrieved with the order of the FAA, the Appellant approached the CIC in second appeal on 19.9.2013.
4. We heard the submissions of the Appellant and the Respondents. The Appellant stated that even though the information sought by her was based on a study conducted for a third party by the Respondents, the disclosure of this information was a matter of larger public interest because the data so generated had been used to obtain registration from the Government of India. The use of the product by farmers affected the quality of potatoes. Since these potatoes are consumed by a large number of consumers, it is essential to know the impact of this product on their health. The Respondents submitted that even though they had invoked Section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act, 2005, because in the first application dated 19.4.2013, the Appellant had sought information on the basis of a study conducted by them for a third party, the fact was that they did not have the information sought in paragraph 1 of the RTI application. This was so because they had not conducted any tests with all the parameters mentioned in this paragraph. The Respondents further submitted that in view of the foregoing, they were willing to state that the information sought vide paragraph 1 of the RTI application was not available with them. The Appellant submitted that in case the information in question was not available, the Respondents should state so categorically. Accordingly, the CPIO is directed to state on affidavit within 15 days from the receipt of this order that the information sought as per paragraph 1 of the RTI application is not available with the Respondents.
3. With the above direction, the appeals are disposed of.
4. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Ms. Ritika Shrivastava v. Indian Council of Agricultural Research in File No. CIC/LS/A/2013/002256/SH CIC/LS/A/2013/001913/SH