Market regulator Sebi has received RTI requests for information related to matters that are more than 17 years old, even as the files pertaining to such cases are kept in its records for up to eight years only.
As Sebi could not provide the information, the applicants approached its Appellate Authority for Right to Information (RTI) queries, but their appeals were dismissed there as well in the wake of the eight-year file 'weeding out policy'.
Two such appeals were dismissed by the Appellate Authority through separate orders passed yesterday. In one case, an aggrieved shareholder of a listed company had requested for certified copies of documents related to a public issue, while the second RTI request was for information on a rights issue made in 1995?96. After hearing the appeal, the Appellate Authority said: "In his response, the respondent (Sebi) had informed the appellant that the information sought by him pertained to a public issue which occurred more than 17 years back and as per the weeding out policy of the concerned department/office of Sebi, files pertaining to issue management that were completed and closed were required to be kept for only 8 years.
"In view of the aforesaid, the respondent had informed the appellant that no information was therefore available with the concerned department/office of Sebi with respect to the above mentioned queries."
The applicant submitted that Sebi has "has mechanically disposed of the query citing that there are no records available with Sebi that are beyond 8 years." He further added that Sebi "has failed to realise that though the records are discarded that are aged beyond 8 years, there should and must be records available within the organisation...
"Sebi is bound to keep such records since inception as they are also answerable to Parliament on all Public Issues irrespective of the age of Public Issue," he said.
The Appellate Authority, however, observed that Sebi has clearly mentioned that files pertaining to issue management that were completed and closed were required to be kept for only eight years. It further said that there was no reason "to disbelieve the response provided by the respondent" and Sebi cannot be obliged to provide the information sought by the appellant. The Appellate Authority made similar observations after hearing the second appeal as well and dismissed the same.