CIC asks I&B to provide details of Kalanithi Maran's shares in Sun Direct

Niraj Rathod

29 Oct 2011
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The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has been asked by the Central Information Commission to provide details of the shareholding by Kalanithi Maran in the direct-to-home (DTH) platform, Sun Direct.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had earlier registered a case against Kalanidhi Maran, his younger brother and former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran regarding Aircel-Maxis deal with linkage to investment in Sun Direct.
The CIC overruled the objection of the I&B ministry and Sun Direct that the information sought was commercial in nature and exempted from disclosure under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. The Ministry has to give the information by 25 February.

The DTH platform’s counsel sought to plead that any 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.’
Earlier, the Ministry’s Public Information Officer K S Rejimon had refused to provide the information saying the company had not given consent. Vinod K Jose, a resident of Jhandewalan, had sought information on the 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.

CIC also observed that the information related to mere matter of business and pertaining to, or engaged in, commerce can be treated as commercial. The details of the shareholding pattern are not in the nature of commercial confidence. In any case. The Commission felt that it had not been apprised how disclosure of such information would harm Sun Direct.
The Commission 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.
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