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Eliciting a clarification or opinion regarding a future event cannot be construed as information available on record

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Court :
SEBI

Brief :
The appellant had filed an application dated September 01, 2020 (received by SEBI on September 04, 2020) under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (“RTI Act”). The respondent, by a letter dated September 09, responded to the application filed by the appellant. The appellant filed an appeal dated October 05, 2020 (received by the Office of Appellate Authority on October 13, 2020), against the said response dated September 09, 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. 3946 of 2020

BEFORE THE APPELLATE AUTHORITY
(Under the Right to Information Act, 2005)
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE BOARD OF INDIA
Appeal No. 3946 of 2020
Naveen Kumar Tyagi : Appellant
Vs.
CPIO, SEBI, Mumbai : Respondent

ORDER

1. The appellant had filed an application dated September 01, 2020 (received by SEBI on September 04, 2020) under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (“RTI Act”). The respondent, by a letter dated September 09, responded to the application filed by the appellant. The appellant filed an appeal dated October 05, 2020 (received by the Office of Appellate Authority on October 13, 2020), against the said response dated September 09, 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. Queries in the application –The appellant, vide his application dated September 01, 2020, had inter alia sought the following information:

1. Sudhir Kumar, S/O Jagbir Singh, has been registered in SEBI for refund of investment made in PACL, whose approval numbers are ZSPLGI....., U3MDY...., SKB3...., Y4EV.... Please inform the date on which the money will be returned to the investor.
2. In the above case, inform the action taken by SEBI for the investor’s benefit.
3. Inform the name, address and mobile number of the appellate officer.

3. The respondent, in response to the query, observed that the information sought by the appellant, is not available with SEBI. However, the appellant was informed that Justice (Retd.) R.M. Lodha Committee had sought online refund application vide press release dated February 08, 2019, from the investors of PACL Ltd. It was also informed that vide public notice dated July 21, 2020, the Committee has provided the investors a facility to view the status of/ deficiency in their claim applications and make good those deficiencies for investors/applicants with claims between Rs. 5,000/- and Rs. 7,000/-. The appellant was also advised to refer the public notice dated July 31, 2020 for status of refund. The respondent also provided the links for accessing the above mentioned public notices, on the SEBI website. In addition to the same, the respondent had provided the link for accessing the details of Committee, for further communication. The respondent also provided the details regarding the Appellate Authority.

4. Ground of appeal- The appellant had filed the appeal on the ground that the requested information was not made available in line with the application. Further, the appellant also submitted that the information officer has not ensured access to the information requested, as per rules. The appellant, in his appeal, has mentioned that the information was provided by the respondent on October 09, 2020.

5. I have perused the application and the response. I find that the impugned response was issued by the respondent on September 09, 2020. It appears that the appellant, in his appeal, has misstated the date of response to be October 09, 2020.

6. I have perused the query and I find no reason to disbelieve the said observation of the respondent that the information sought is not available with SEBI. It is understood that the responsibility of disposal of the properties and repayment to investors, is entrusted with the PACL Committee (under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.M. Lodha, former Chief Justice of India), which has been constituted, pursuant to the order dated February 2, 2016 of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. I also note that the refund process is being handled by the said Committee. Upon a consideration of the aforesaid, I find no deficiency in the respondent’s response to the instant query of the appellant’s application.

7. Further, the appellant’s query number 1, regarding specific date when the investor would get refund in the matter, is in the nature of eliciting a clarification or opinion regarding a future event, which cannot be construed as an information available on record. Consequently, the respondent did not have an obligation to provide such clarification or opinion under the RTI Act. In this context, I note that the Hon’ble CIC, in the matter of Shri Shantaram Walavalkar vs. CPIO, SEBI (Decision dated January 17, 2013) 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…”.

8. Further, it is understood that the details of PACL – Status Report, FAQs, Press Releases and Public Notices etc. are available on SEBI website (www.sebi.gov.in) at : https://www.sebi.gov.in/PACL.html and details of property of PACL Ltd. is available at https://www.auctionpacl.com and

9. I find that the respondent has adequately guided the appellant to access the contact details of the Committee and the details with respect to the process of refund in the matter of PACL Ltd. In addition to the same, the email address of the Committee is mentioned below-E-mail address: nodalofficerpacl@sebi.gov.in.

10. 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                                                                        AMARJEET SINGH
Date: November 12, 2020                                                      APPELLATE AUTHORITY UNDER THE RTI ACT
                                                                                               SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE BOARD OF INDIA

 

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on 19 November 2020
Published in LAW
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