In a decision that can open up private sector for public scrutiny, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) to provide details of shareholding of Kalanidhi Maran in Sun Direct, a direct to home (DTH) service.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against Kalanidhi Maran, his younger and former telecom minister brother Dayanidhi Maran regarding Aircel-Maxis deal with linkage to investment in Sun Direct.
The CIC overruled the objection of I&B ministry and Sun Direct Private Limited that the information sought was commercial in nature and exempted from disclosure under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
“Information regarding shareholding pattern is in the nature of commercial confidence-protected under section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act and disclosure of the same will harm the commercial interest of the third party,” Sun Direct’s counsel told the CIC.
Earlier, the I&B ministry’s public information officer KS Rejimon refused to provide the information saying the company has not given consent. Vinod K Jose, a resident of Jhandewalan, has sought information on shareholding pattern in Sun Direct and percentage shares held by Maran.
Information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said the information sought cannot be treated as confidential as it is accessible to public through registrar of companies website by making a payment. "This Bench is of the view that disclosure of merely the shareholding pattern of Sun Direct TV cannot put it at a disadvantage from its competitors," he said.
The transparency watchdog also observed that the information related to mere matter of business and pertaining to, or engaged in commerce can be treated a commercial. The details of the shareholding pattern are not in the nature of commercial confidence.
The CIC also overruled the company’s objection that the information was personal in nature saying the information already provided to a public authority cannot fall in the domain of unwarranted invasion of privacy.