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Appeal No. 3902 of 2020 filed by Datar

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Court :
SEBI

Brief :
The appellant had filed an application dated July 23, 2020 (received by the respondent through RTI MIS Portal) under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (“RTI Act”). The respondent, by a letter dated August 10, 2020, responded to the application filed by the appellant. The appellant filed an appeal dated August 21, 2020, against the said response dated August 10, 2020. I have carefully considered the application, the response and the appeal and find that the matter can be decided based on the material available on record.

Citation :
Appeal No. 3902 of 2020

BEFORE THE APPELLATE AUTHORITY
(Under the Right to Information Act, 2005)
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE BOARD OF INDIA
Appeal No. 3902 of 2020
Datar: Appellant
Vs.
CPIO, SEBI, Mumbai: Respondent

ORDER

1. The appellant had filed an application dated July 23, 2020 (received by the respondent through RTI MIS Portal) under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (“RTI Act”). The respondent, by a letter dated August 10, 2020, responded to the application filed by the appellant. The appellant filed an appeal dated August 21, 2020, against the said response dated August 10, 2020. I have carefully considered the application, the response and the appeal and find that the matter can be decided based on the material available on record.

2. Grounds of appeal- The appellant has filed the appeal on the ground that incomplete, misleading or false information was provided by the respondent. On perusal of the appeal, it appears that the appellant is not satisfied with the reply to query numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of his application. In view of the submissions of the appellant, I am only dealing with the said queries, in this appeal. The said queries of the appellant and the responses thereto are discussed in the following paragraphs.

3. Query numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 –The appellant, vide his application dated July 23, 2020, sought the following information:

1. Tentative dates for the Online Examination of Phase I and Phase II of Officer Grade A (Assistant Manager) - General Stream Examination, 2020.

2. What steps have been taken or will be taken by SEBI towards organizing the officer grade a (assistant manager) 2020 amid the covid-19 pandemic?

3. Please state how Social Distancing norms as advised by MHA would be followed while organizing this examination.

4. UGC has reduced the syllabus of the various Educational Courses amid the COVID-19. Will there be any reduction or changes in the syllabus of this examination which has been announced by your office.

5. Please state whether the Examination will be done on a single date all over India or different dates will be announced for different City or states?

4. The respondent, in response to query numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, observed that the said queries are in the nature of seeking clarification/ opinion and accordingly, cannot be construed as “information”, as defined under section 2(f) of the RTI Act.

5. Upon a perusal of the appellant’s request for information as made through his application, I find the information sought therein was in the nature of seeking clarification, opinion, etc. from SEBI. Further, I find that the appellant had not requested for any ‘information’ as defined under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act. In this context, I note that the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Central Board of Secondary Education & Anr. vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors (Judgment dated August 9, 2011), inter alia held:

"A public authority is “...not required to provide ‘advice’ or ‘opinion’ to an applicant, nor required to obtain and furnish any ‘opinion’ or ‘advice’ to an applicant. The reference to ‘opinion’ or ‘advice’ in the definition of ‘information’ in section 2(f) of the Act only refers to such material available in the records of the public authority. Many public authorities have, as a public relation exercise, provided advice, guidance and opinion to the citizens. But that is purely voluntary and should not be confused with any obligation under the RTI Act”. Further, in the matter of Shri Shantaram Walavalkar vs. CPIO, SEBI (Decision dated January 17, 2013), I note that the Hon’ble CIC held: “... we would also like to observe that, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the citizen has the responsibility to specify the exact information he wants; he is not supposed to seek any opinion or comments or clarifications or interpretations from the CPIO…”. In view of these observations, I find that the respondent cannot be obliged to provide a response to such request for
information, as made by the appellant through the extant queries.

6. In view of the above observations, I find that there is no need to interfere with the decision of the respondent. The Appeal is accordingly dismissed.

Place: Mumbai ANAND BAIWAR
Date: September 21, 2020 APPELLATE AUTHORITY UNDER THE RTI ACT

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE BOARD OF INDIA

 

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on 22 September 2020
Published in Corporate Law
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