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Vanessa Crasto v/s Central Public Information Officer Central Cottage Industries Corporation of India Ltd.


Company & Directors' Information:- CENTRAL INDIA INDUSTRIES LTD. [Active] CIN = U02710WB1938PLC209971

Company & Directors' Information:- CENTRAL COTTAGE INDUSTRIES CORPORATION OF INDIA LTD [Active] CIN = U74899DL1976GOI008069

Company & Directors' Information:- THE INFORMATION COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U72300MH1999PTC118630

Company & Directors' Information:- A K R INFORMATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U74899DL1987PTC030157

Company & Directors' Information:- THE CENTRAL INDUSTRIES LIMITED [Dissolved] CIN = U99999MH1949PLC010460

    Decision no. CIC/CCICI/A/154572/02724 of 2018

    Decided On, 27 January 2020

    At, Central Information Commission

    By, THE HONOURABLE MRS. VANAJA N. SARNA
    By, INFORMATION COMMISSIONER

    For the Appellant: Rohan Thawani, Advocate, Representative, present in person. For the Respondent: Sudha W Bedi, AGM (Stores) & CPIO, present in person.



Judgment Text


Information Sought:

The appellant has sought the following information:

1. All letters, proceedings, resolutions, notings and any other correspondence pertaining to ground, basement and mezzanine floors and 1st floor premises of Narang House, 34 Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Marg, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, Mumbai 400 039 between Central Cottage Industries Corporation Ltd. and the Ministry of Textiles and Law Ministry from January 1, 2001 onwards.

2. Details of expenses claimed as rent payment to United Corporation, Sanjay Narang, Rachna Narang and Ashok Narang as per the Profit and Loss Account of Central Cottage Industries Corporation Ltd. and in Income Tax.

3. Details of TDS paid and amount credited to rent payable account for the aforesaid premises at Mumbai.

4. And other related information.

Grounds for Second Appeal

2. The CPIO did not provide the desired information.

Submissions made by Appellant and Respondent during Hearing:

3. The appellant's representative submitted that he is not satisfied with the reply in respect of points no. 2,3 and 4 of the RTI application. He further submitted that the respondent is occupying the premises, belonging to his client. Moreover, the exemption claimed by the CPIO is not applicable.

4. Furthermore, he submitted that the information sought is not related to commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party. He also submitted that the information sought was on behalf of Sanjay Narang, Rachna Narang and Ashok Narang.

5. Accordingly, he contested the applicability of Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act. He submitted that details of TDS paid and amount credited to rent payable account for the aforesaid premises at Mumbai is not held by the IT Department in fiduciary capacity. He also submitted that information sought in points no. 1 and 5 was given and hence keeping parity, information in respect of points no. 2,3 and 4 also should be given.

6. He also pointed out that the FAA had passed a non speaking order and prima facie the grounds for first appeal were not considered by the FAA.

7. The CPIO contended that information sought was given as per the prevailing account standards. She further through her written submissions pleaded as follows:

1. The applicant herein claims to be the authorized representative of one Mr. Sanjay Narang. At the outset it is submitted that there are commercial disputes pending between Shri Sanjay Narang and the respondent Corporation in relation to the subject premises viz. Narang House, Appolo Bunder, Colaba, Mumbai 400039. The information that is being sought is therefore for the purposes of use in the said commercial disputes between the parties. Therefore manifestly, there exists no public interest and the request for information is purely for the purposes of litigation.

2. It is apparent from the above that the information sought does not seem to have any relationship to any public interest or public activity and has been expressly sought to be used as evidence in a dispute in a Court pending between the Appellant and the Corporation.

3. In this context, the CPIO relied on the decision of the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in Vijay Prakash v. UOI and Ors. WP (Civil) No. 803 of 2009 decision dated 01/07/2009 whereby the Hon'ble Court, while taking note of the similar facts where information was being sought by an applicant for use in litigation proceedings between applicant and respondent therein. The litigation between the parties was construed as a 'pure and simple private dispute' and therefore the petitioner/applicant therein who had failed to prove any public interest in disclosure of the said information was refused grant of relief by the Hon'ble high Court. The facts of the instant case are ad-idem.

4. The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi again vide its judgment dated 27/08/2014 in Rekha Chopra v. State Bank of Bikaner (WP Civil No. 5478/2014) while noting in paragraph 6 therein that 'there were disputes pending between the petitioner and her relatives and that the information was not sought towards any public interest but only to assist in the litigation', the Hon'ble Court was pleased to affirm the stand of the Bank that no such information could be provided to such an applicant.

Without prejudice to the above, and strictly in the alternative, without conceding that the applicant is in any manner entitled to the information, she submitted as under:

5. Information sought is already provided and available in the annual reports where the Respondent has placed all details qua the information that is presently being sought.

6. In any event, providing details sought by the applicant which relate to rental expenses will injure their commercial position as the corporation is routinely and regularly taking premises on lease for running of its Emporia. The lease/rental amounts are determined after due consultation with the landlords and are reduced into agreements between the parties, disclosure of such rental information is likely to weaken the bargaining power of Central Cottage Industries Corporation of India Ltd to arrange leases at commercially viable rates and is therefore inimical to commercial position of the organisation. The disclosure of such information will injure the competitive position and will further hamper the position of the Corporation to negotiate with its clients.

7. The information is also barred under section 8 (1) (d) of Right To Information Act, 2005 in as much as CCIC is a commercial organization and disclosure of information sought may harm the competitive position hence, there is also no larger public interest warranting the disclosure of information sought by the applicant. Therefore, the information sought may not be provided under Right to Information Act, 2005.

8. Even otherwise, and without prejudice to the above, strictly in the alternative, the annual report and the balance sheets of the company are all available on the website of the company which reflect the information in relation to financial liability of CCIC in relation to the subject premises. Moreover, the Applicant is insisting for information in a certain format. Such a request cannot be maintained and as such are liable to be dismissed.

9. That the information sought pertained to personal information concerning Sanjay Narang, a third Party and had no relationship to any public interest or activity and, therefore, exempt from disclosure under section 8(1) (j) of the Right To Information Act.

10. The information sought does not seem to have any relationship to any public interest or public activity and has been expressly sought to be used as evidence in a dispute in a Court pending between the Appellant and Corporation.

11. The onus of showing that disclosure should be made is upon the individual asserting it; he cannot merely say that as the information relates to a public authority, there is a public interest element. Adopting such a simplistic argument would defeat the object of Section 8(1) (j) of the Act.

12. Even otherwise, the information in the manner that is being sought is already available as part of the Annual reports, and it cannot be insisted to be provided in a certain manner alone. [See:- Mr. Subrata Guha Ray v. Mr. K.J Nazareth Appeal No. CIC/SB/A/2016/00025/CBECEBJ.]

13. The apprehension of misuse of the information against the commercial interests of CCIC is reasonable and borne from the fact that by using the same in legal proceedings, the applicant seeks to fasten huge pecuniary liability on CCIC. This is obviously a direct assault on the commercial position of CCIC.

14. In view of the above, there is no merit in the appeal and the information sought cannot be disclosed for the bonafide reasons hereinabove. There is no malafide on part of the corporation in issuance of the order impugned herein.

Observations:

8. Based on the averments of both the parties, the Commission observed that it is pertinent to examine the information sought in respect of points no. 2,3 and 4 of the RTI application as these are the contested points as well as the written submissions given by the respondent at that time.

"2. Details of expenses claimed as rent payment to United Corporation, Sanjay Narang, Rachna Narang and Ashok Narang as per the Profit and Loss Account of Central Cottage Industries Corporation Ltd. and in Income Tax.

3. Details of TDS paid and amount credited to rent payable account for the aforesaid premises at Mumbai.

4. Details of the amount lying to credit on account of rent payable to United Corporation, Ashok Narang/Sanjay Narang/Rachna Narang in books ."

9. While initially the arguments of the appellant on the relevant points seemed to be acceptable, after perusing the written submissions of the respondent, the Commission observes as follows:

10. The details of expenses claimed as rent payment to United Corporation, Sanjay Narang, Rachna Narang and Ashok Narang as per the Profit and Loss Account of Central Cottage Industries Corporation Ltd. and in Income Tax i.e. the information sought in point no 2, is as stated by the respondent available on their website in the form of annual report and balance sheets of the company. They are correct in stating that while it may not be in the format sought by the appellant, the information is available as maintained by the respondent authority. Further, on point no. 3 also, the stand of the respondent is the same, that the information is already available on their website. The Commission notes that once certain information is placed on the website, that information is no longer held by a public authority and under such circumstance, it will not be appropriate to give any further relief on these points.

11. The respondent has pleaded that providing details sought by the applicant which relate to rental expenses, will injure their commercial position as the corporation is routinely and regularly taking premises on lease for running of its Emporia, the lease/rental amounts are determined after due consultation with the landlords and are reduced into agreements between the parties, disclosure of such rental information is likely to weaken the bargaining power of Central Cottage Industries Corporation of India Ltd to arrange leases at commercially viable rates and is therefore inimical to commercial position of the organisation. The disclosure of such information will injure the competitive position and will further hamper the position of the Corporation to negotiate with its clients. The Commission agrees with the above plea and observes that competitive position of the respondent may be compromised if information sou

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ght in point no. 4 of the RTI application is disclosed. Further, the appellant and respondent would have entered into a lease agreement, in which all the material information including rates etc. would already be available with the appellant's clients. 12. Based on the CPIO's plea that the information sought is already provided and available in the annual reports where the Respondent has placed all details qua the information that is presently being sought, the Commission finds that the appellant should access this information from the website in the format available. Moreover, information sought by the appellant is on behalf of the third parties who were not present during the hearing to substantiate the fact that the information is being sought on their behalf. Also, the appellant was not able to show any larger public interest in the matter which would enable lifting the exemption as was also stated by the respondent authority. Decision: 13. In view of the above, the pleas taken by the respondent in their written submissions are accepted for the reasons given above and thus, no further relief can be granted to the appellant. 14. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
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