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India’s CIC tells government to reveal Maran stake in Sun Direct

India's Central Information Commission (CIC) has told the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to publically disclose the stake Kalanidhi Maran holds in the Sun Direct DTH TV platform, ruling it is not contrary to commercial confidence or privacy laws.

Information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said the information sought by a journalist under the Right to Information Act cannot be treated as confidential as it is already publically accessible through a 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," said Ghandhi.

The CIC also overruled the company's objection that the information was personal in nature as the information required had already been provided to a public authority. Thus it cannot be seen as an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had previously refused to furnish Vinod K Jose, deputy editor of The Caravan magazine, with the details of the satellite TV platform's shareholding pattern, arguing the information was commercial in nature.

Jose then appealed to the CIC, who yesterday (31 January) found in favour of the applicant after also hearing representations from both the Ministry and Sun TV.

A case has been registered by the Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against Kalanidhi Maran and his younger brother (and former Minister of Telecommunications) Dayanidhi Maran, over allegations of investments into Sun Direct during the under scrutiny Aircel-Maxis telecommunications deal.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting now has until 25 February to make public Kalanidhi Maran's shareholding in Sun Direct.

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