Information about IBC proceedings of Dewan Housing Finance Corporation - CIC: PIO is only a communicator of information based on the records held in the office and cannot be expected to do research work to deduce anything from the material therein
The Appellant filed an RTI application dated 31.07.2021 seeking the following information:
“This is with reference to CIRP under IBC 2016 of Dewan Housing Finance Corporation in short DHFL via Order No. DOR NBFC(PD)986/03.10136/2019-20 of dated 20/11/2019 Superseding DHFL under 45 IE of RBI Act ,1934 and appointment of Shri R. Subramanian Kumar as its Administrator.
Please provide me following information (certified copies duly signed & stamped) with relevant documents i.e. letters, minute of meetings, orders file and file nothing (applicable to all 1- 10 bellow mentioned information).
1. Copy of application / petition filed in NCLT, Mumbai on 29/11/2019 with enclosure/ attachments.
2. RBI any action prior to 20/11/ 2019 empowered as regulatory Authority to DHFL for non-adherence of norms like, issuing advisory, censoring, warning, imposing fine or others etc.
3. Memorandums, Complaint, Requisition received for aforesaid action I.e superseding management/ Disciplinary action by Creditors, Investors, Regulatory authority, ministry of Union Government, public on or before 20/11/2019
4. RBI Suo motto cognizance/ cognizance on Complaint for Superseding management of DHFL please supply information on documents which RBI relied upon of course containing fact & figure, analysis, reasoning for liquidation and conclusion.
5. Any report/ analysis of study conducted for not opting revival/reconstruction available via RBI Circular of 7/6/2019 Under Prudential Framework for stressed Assets/The Companies act 2013/ Resolution under 45MBA & 45QA.
6. Any intimation to RBI or Any approval by RBI for Resolution of DHFL under Prudential Framework for stressed Assets according to 7/6/2019 circular.
7. Any report on progress, Success, or Failure by erstwhile management of DHFL and RBI appointed observer/ facilitator about aforesaid resolution carried out according to the Circular of 7/6/2019.
8. Availability of cash in DHFL Books on dated 20/11/2019
9. Asset Cover Ratio Available on 20/11/2019.
10. Un-audited Balance sheet report for FY 2019-20 of DHFL and Annual Balance sheet for FY-2019 -20.”
The CPIO furnished a pointwise reply to the Appellant on 07.09.2021 stating as under:
“1. Once a petition is filed before the NCLT, the same forms a part of record of the Registry of the NCLT. You may approach the Registry of NCLT for a copy of the petition filed before the NCLT in compliance with the procedure to access the information from NCLT itself.
2. Regulation of Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) was transferred to RBI after amendment to NHB Act vide Finance (No.2) Act, 2019 (23 of 2019) with effect from August 09, 2019. You may refer Press Release on -Transfer of Regulation of Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) to Reserve Bank of India" dated August 13,2019, available on www.rbi.orq.in under Press Release”.
As prior to August 09, 2019, the regulation/supervision for HFCs was National Housing Bank (NHB), the query has been transferred to NHB under section 6(3) of RTI Act,2005.
3. & 4. It is informed that the resolution plan for revival and reconstruction of DHFL approved by NCLT, at present is under implementation. Furnishing of any information pertaining to DHFL at this stage may impact its revival and reconstruction. Hence, the information sought is exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1) (d), of the RTI Act, 2005.
5, 6 & 7. We do not have any specific information in this regard.
8, 9 & 10. NHB being the supervisory authority oh Housing Finance Companies, the queries have been transferred to NHB under Section 6(3) of RTI Act, 2005.”
Being dissatisfied, the Appellant filed a First Appeal dated 13.10.2021. FAA’s order, dated 01.12.2021, held as under:
“It is seen that in query No. 2, the appellant bad sought "RBI any action prior to 20/11/ 2019 empowered as regulatory Authority to DHFL. for non-adherence of norms like, issuing advisory, censoring, warning, imposing fine or others etc". The CPIO informed that regulation of Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) was transferred to RBI with effect from August 09, 2019, and transferred the query to NHB for information prior to August 2019. 'Though the CPIO has explained that regulation of HFC was transferred to RBI in August 2019, NHB is the supervisor and regulation was also with NHB prior to August 2019, the reply is silent for action taken from August 2019 to November 2019. The CPIO is directed to revisit query No.2 and issue an appropriate reply subject to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005.
The Appeal is therefore partly allowed. This order may be served on the Appellant. A copy of this order may be marked to the CPIO for compliance within 10 working days from the dare of receipt of this order.”
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied, the Appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-
Appellant: Present through Video-Conference.
Respondent: Aditya Sharma, DGM; Rahul Kumar Meena; M S Kasana, Advocate present through Video-Conference. Deepak Chikhale, General Manager and Chnadrajit Sahoo, General Manager and Rose Saprocho, Assistant Legal Advisor present through Video-Conference.
The written submissions of the Respondent are taken on record.
The Appellant, during the hearing, reiterated the contents of his RTI application and instant appeal and submitted that till date complete and correct information was not provided to him by the Respondent.
The Appellant submitted that the Respondent has wrongly not provided information to him on point nos. 2, 8, 9 and 10 of the RTI application.
The Respondent, during the hearing, reiterated the contents of their written submissions, which are reproduced herein below:
“It is submitted that in compliance with the direction of the FAA’s Order dated November 17, 2021, the CPIO vide compliance letter dated December 01, 2021 (copy enclosed as Annexure- ‘E’) had advised the appellant that the information sought in query No. (2) pertains to supervisory action and the same would be taken up by NHB in their capacity as a supervisor to HFCs. Further, the appellant was informed that the Bank had not issued any such advisory, censoring, warning, imposing fines or other, etc, and these details would be available with NHB.
7. Being dissatisfied with the replies (for both original & compliance letter) of the CPIO and the order passed by the FAA has preferred the present second appeal. Vide the second appeal, the appellant has inter alia contended that the CPIO has provided reply to his RTI application is virtually no reply and invoked 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; without mentioning relevant specific clause clearly and evaded the issue either by stating as no specific information available or by putting onus totally on NHB, forgetting that the period where onus lies is on him/CPIO etc.
8. It is humbly submitted that the contentions of the appellant in his Appeal No. RBIND/A/P/21/00888 were duly considered by the FAA and a detailed and reasoned order dated November 17, 2021 was passed by the FAA with a direction to the CPIO to revisit query No. (2). As such, the CPIO has accordingly complied to FAA’s order vide its compliance letter dated December 01, 2021.
9. It is humbly submitted that the contention of the appellant that the CPIO has not provided any information is totally misconceived and without any merit. CPIO has provided all possible/available information in his replies dated September 07, 2021 & December 01, 2021 to RTI Application No. RBIND/R/E/21/07015. Further, as directed by FAA to revisit query No. (2) of the RTI Application vide order dated November 17, 2021, the CPIO has accordingly revisited and advised/informed the appellant that the query No. (2) pertains to supervisory action and the same would be taken up by NHB in their capacity as a supervisor to HFCs and that the Reserve Bank had not issued any such advisory, censoring, warning, imposing fines or other, etc,. and these details would be available with NHB. As such, the CPIO had examined the queries raised by the appellant in his RTI applications and had responded to the queries in conformity with the provisions of the RTI Act. Both the original reply and compliance letter were issued by the CPIO well within the stipulated time period.
Further, FAA has also passed a reasoned order in the first appeal preferred by the appellant. Therefore, the request made by the appellant in the present appeal to take penal action against the CPIO and FAA is baseless and not tenable. The appellant has not made out any ground whatsoever for maintaining the present appeal against the CPIO or the FAA.
10. It is further submitted that Section 21 of the RTI Act provides protection of action taken in good faith. The CPIO/FAA have considered the application/appeal of the appellant within the purview of the RTI Act. There is no procedural lacuna or any mala fide intention on part of the CPIO/FAA in replying to the RTI application filed by the appellant /passed reasoned order and hence, initiation of any penal proceedings against the CPIO/FAA is not warranted and justified as sought by the appellant.”
The Respondent further submitted that the present subject-matter is also pending before the Court and is sub-judice.
The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and upon perusal of records, observes that the Appellant submitted that he is not satisfied with the response given by the Respondent on his RTI application. The Respondent apprised the Commission that the information sought by the Appellant in his RTI application has been provided to him as per the provisions of the RTI Act.
The Commission is of the considered opinion that the CPIO is only a communicator of information based on the records held in the office and hence, he cannot be expected to do research work to deduce anything from the material therein and then supply it to him. The CPIO can only provide information which is held by them in their records within the public authority.
In this regard, the Commission finds no infirmity in the reply and as a sequel to it further clarifications tendered by the CPIO during hearing as the same was found to be in consonance with the provisions of RTI Act.
Further, the Appellant is advised to approach appropriate administrative forum in order to redress his grievance.
Hence, no further intervention of the Commission is required in the matter.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Kirti Kumar Pal v. RBI, CIC/RBIND/A/2022/605093; Date of Decision: 21/08/2023