Analysis: Judgments on RTI Act, 2005

Information can be supplied only in the form available

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Naripen Goyal
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Last Updated on June 29, 2021 by The Health Master

Analysis: Judgments on RTI Act, 2005

Information sought should be clearly specified [Sec. 2(f) of the Act]

Case: In the case of S.K. Ranga vs. Container Corporation of India Ltd. (Appeal No.CIC/OK/A/2006/00260, dated 2/1/2007), the applicant had asked for inspection of all Dak registers of the Corporation from 1/1/2003 onwards, pertaining to various departments, i.e., HRD, Vigilance, MD’s office, as well as the General Dak Register.

Judgment: The CIC noted that the information asked by the appellant from the public authority was vague.  The Commission held that the applicant under the RTI Act should clearly specify the information sought in terms of Section 2(f) of the RTI Act. The appellant was directed to specify the information he seeks to inspect from the records.

Provisions involved: Section 2(f) – “Information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, …………………… for the time being in force.

Information can be supplied only in the form available [Sec. 2(f)]

Case: In the case of Sarabjit Roy vs. Delhi Development Authority (10/01/2005-CIC, dated 25/2/2006), the applicant had sought certain information in a particular form, from the PIO of a public authority.

Information documents letter
Picture: Pixabay

Judgment: The Commission held that if the information is not available in the particular form requested, it does not have to be created in the form sought by the applicant, and  information under Section 2(f) includes information in any form available with a public  authority and accessible. In the present case, the Commission held that the applicant may be allowed, if he desires, to inspect the original records at the office. Information specifically asked may be provided in the form of printouts and certified photocopies of original documents and records.

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Frivolous applications not to be entertained [Sec. 8 of the RTI Act

Case: In the case of S.K. Lal vs. Ministry of Railways (Appeal No. CIC/OK/A/2006/00268-272, dated 29/12/2006), the appellant had filed five applications to the railway authorities asking for “all the records” regarding the various services and categories of staff in the railways. The public authority, however, did not provide him with the information requested.

Judgment: The Central Information Commission observed that though the RTI Act allows citizens to seek any information other than the 10 categories exempted under Section 8, it does not mean that the public authorities are required to entertain to all sorts of frivolous applications.  The CIC held that asking for “all the records” regarding various services and categories of staff in the railways, “only amounts to making a mockery of the Act.” While dismissing the appeal, the CIC recorded its appreciation of the efforts made by the Railways to provide the applicant with the information sought.

Comments: It must be submitted that a PIO cannot refuse to accept an RTI application or provide information in most of the cases, and the RTI Act makes it compulsory that every public authority is duty bound to accept all RTI applications. The public authorities are also not supposed to question the applicant under the RTI Act about the reasons for filing an application and asking for particular information. Only in the rarest of rare circumstances, where it is clearly established that an applicant has filed an RTI application just to harass the public authority, an application can be termed frivolous.

Who can apply for information (Section 3)

Only persons in individual capacity can apply for information under RTI Act [Sec. 3 of the RTI Act]

Case: In the case of Inder Grover vs. Ministry of Railways (CIC/OK/A/2006/00121, dated 27/06/2006), the applicant had applied for some information to the PIO of the Railways Ministry in the capacity as the Managing Director of a company.

Judgment: The CIC interpreted Section 3 of the RTI Act to hold that persons applying for information under the Act should apply as natural and individual persons (citizens). Corporate bodies and juristic persons cannot apply for information under the Act.  It was accordingly ruled that if a person applies for information to a public authority as a representative of a corporate body, then he/she is not entitled to information under the Act.

Provisions involved: Section 3 – Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information.

Firm cannot be an applicant under the  Act [Sec.3 of  Act]

Case: In the case of D.C. Dhareva & Co. vs. Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (Decision No.560/IC/2007, dated 22/2/2007), a corporate body (company), had applied for information from a public authority and sought certain documents relating to a another firm which had submitted this information to the public authority as per the legal requirements of furnishing such information.

Judgment: It was held by the Commission in this case that since the appellant organisation is a corporate body and not an individual it is not eligible to seek information under Section 3 of the RTI Act.

It was also decided by the Commission that the information asked could not be supplied as it was a third-party confidential information exempted under Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act .

Provisions involved: Section 3 – Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information

Disclaimer:This is the personal opinion of the writer and anyone may have a different opinion and will not attract any legal implication.

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