Should public authority publish information already existing in different websites?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) seeking details in respect of the Portfolio Management Services regulated by the SEBI. The Public Information Officer (PIO) referred him to the website of the SEBI for some of this information and denied some other information under section 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the RTI Act stating that it was held in a fiduciary capacity.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant argued that the information sought by him was necessary for making an informed choice in the matter of investment and the SEBI should help the citizens in this by publishing such information. The respondent submitted that each Portfolio Management Service published such documents in its respective website while also reporting to the SEBI on a monthly basis and the citizens could always visit the respective website and find out about the information required. The respondent explained that it would not be possible for the SEBI to compile this data on annual basis and publish it.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the desired information is received electronically by the SEBI and its publication through the website would not be a difficult task. The CIC held that by publishing such information the SEBI would help the investing public to access all information at one place and not have to visit 50 different websites. Besides, it would also eliminate the need for seeking such information from time to time under RTI. The Commission directed the respondent to publish the monthly information received from the Portfolio Management Services on the SEBI website. The PIO was also directed to inform the appellant about the action to be taken and the link in the website where such information can be seen.
The CIC has not given credence to the argument given by the SEBI that it cannot compile information on an annual basis which has been received electronically on a monthly basis. In the interest of transparency and investors, SEBI has been directed that the required information should be put on the website on a monthly basis.
Citation: Mr. Aditya Govindraj v. Securities and Exchange Board of India in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/001034
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1011
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission