CIC takes exception for the use of intemperate language by RTI applicant

PIO’s stand was that the information sought was vague, highly generalized in nature and scattered over various public authorities and was not covered by S.2(f) of the RTI Act and that the complainant had used abusive and foul language which is punishable under IPC. CIC took very strong exception of the intemperate language used by the appellant in his application/appeal; that the RTI Act gives right to Indian Citizens to access information as per provisions under Section 2(f); that the Application in the present matter does not qualify under the RTI Act as no specific information had been sought but only abusive disparaging phrases have been written with an apparent intention to insult the public authority. There may be concerns that the appellant desires to raise against the public authority but the RTI Act certainly does not provide for vilifying public authorities in such explicit manner by means of filing an RTI application, without even asking for any information as such. Hence, no further intervention of the Commission was required in the matter.

No. CIC/RAILB/C/2018/103875 DD 7-8-2019

 

Only such information as is available and existing and held by, or is under control of public authority can be provided

Appellant, among other items of information, wanted to know many complaints, appeals and revisions had been disposed of by State Commissions from 2010 to 2016. CIC has clarified that under the provisions of the RTI Act only such information as is available and existing and held by the public authority or is under control of the public authority can be provided. The PIO is not supposed to create information that is not a part of the record.

CIC further observed that the High Court of Delhi in its judgment dated 04.12.2014 in case of The Registrar, Supreme Court of India vs. Commodore Lokesh K. Batra and Ors.[W.P.(C) No. 6634/2011] has held as under: “11. In so far as the question of disclosing information that is not available with the public authority is concerned, the law is now well settled that the Act does not enjoin a public authority to create, collect or collate information that is not available with it. There is no obligation on a public authority to process any information in order to create further information as is sought by an applicant…….”

No. CIC/NCDRC/A/2018/101103 D.D. 7-8-2019

 

Details regarding payment of water bill refused

Appellant sought to know whether his neighbor’s water bill (for 27 years) had been recovered. The request having been rejected, CIC held that no information has been sought under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act; that the appellant is pursuing a grievance of disputed water connection with his neighbor and adjudication of the same was outside the power of the Commission.

CIC/UTOCH/A/2018/125587/SD DD 7-8-2019 

Information relating to Police verification refused

Appellant had sought information pertaining to issuance of police verification report for obtaining the passport. PIO refused to disclose the information. CIC observed that the Appellant is seeking disclosure of a large number of police verification reports which are exempt from disclosure under Section of 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act and in the absence of any larger public interest, no relief can be given.

CIC/UTDAD/A/2018/122435/SD 

Information relating to inter-relationship between two persons refused

Appellant had sought information about whether Smt. Renu Sinha is the wife of Late Sh. Ashwani Sinha as per his service record. If yes, then the date on which the entry was made in his service book; and the date of appointment of Smt. Renu Sinha, etc. PIO rejected the request on the ground that it was the personal information of the third party and exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. CIC while directing the PIO to disclose the date of appointment of Smt. Renu Sinha upheld the decision of the PIO in refusing to disclose the relationship between Smt. Renu and Sri Ashwani Sinha

Copies of documents produced by a public servant at the time of appointment refused.

Appellant had sought copies of appointment letter, education certificates, other certificates, affidavit, etc. filed by a public servant at the time of appointment. PIO rejected the request. CIC relying upon the decision of the Supreme Court of India in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & ors. SLP(C) No. 27734 of 2012 dated 03/10/2012 and observing that the Appellant has not made any case of larger public interest in the disclosure of information, nor produced any evidence of any other case where such information was given by the respondent authority. As such, no relief can be ordered.

Police City Sehkar Avas Samit not bound to provide information.

Appellant had sought information pertaining to Police City Sehkari Avas Samiti Ltd. PIO submitted that the Society is not a Government institution but a Co-operative Society whose members are Police Officers in their individual capacity; that it is run by its members and the Delhi Police had no role in its functioning; that it is neither funded nor run by Delhi Police; that it is not owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government and hence, it is not a public authority as per Section 2(h)(d)(i) of the RTI Act.

CIC., after hearing the submissions of the parties and perusing records, observed that the Society is a non-governmental institution, not financed by the funds provided by the Delhi Police/the Government and that for the Society to be amenable to the provisions of the RTI Act it has to be declared a ‘Public Authority’ under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. As per the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s Decision in the case of Thalappalam Service Cooperative Bank Limited vs. State of Kerala, Civil Appeal No. 9017/2013 dated 07.10.2013, the onus is on the appellant to establish that the ‘Police City Sehkari Avas Samiti Ltd.’ is either owned, controlled or substantially financed by the appropriate Government, in order to satisfy Section 2(h)(d)(i) of the RTI Act. However, the appellant had not been able to discharge this onus.

 

 FAA will have to hear the appellant while deciding first appeal

Before the CIC., it was submitted that the FAA had disposed of the first appeal without granting the appellant an opportunity of hearing, which was against the principles of natural justice. In that background, the Commission observed that in its Order no. CIC/BS/A/2013/002675/ 6267 dated 30.10.2014 it has held that: “As regards the appellant’s submission that his 1st appeal was not decided by the FAA and he was also denied an opportunity of hearing, it is needless to say that deciding an appeal after rendering an opportunity of hearing to the parties is a fundamental principle of jurisprudence. The FAA should invariably decided an appeal and as far as possible also give the appellant including the third party, if any, an opportunity of hearing specially if he so requests, without forgetting that the essence of RTI Act is to provide complete, correct and timely information to the appellant.” In view of the above, the CIC counseled the FAA to provide the appellants, as far as possible, an opportunity of hearing before deciding the appeals.

 

Deemed PIO can claim exemption from disclosing information – CIC

Appellant had contended that the deemed PIO had no authority to claim an exemption under the RTI Act. CIC referring to Sec. 5(5) has observed that the said provision makes it clear that the deemed PIO is treated as a PIO in all cases where his assistance is sought and in such a case he is well within his authority either to furnish the information or to claim exemption under the RTI Act and hence the contention of the appellant cannot be sustained.

CIC admonishes RTI applicant for filing repetitive and multiple applications

CIC noted that the appellant over time had filed multiple RTI applications which more or less cover the same subject matter and during the hearing, he admitted that since the requisite information was not furnished to him, he was constrained to file repeated RTI applications. In that background, CIC observed that the appellant should note that every single repetition of an RTI application would unnecessarily demand the valuable time of the public authority, First Appellate Authority and if it also reaches the Second Appeal, that of the Commission. Such RTI applications of a repetitive kind lead to obstruction of the flow of information with respect to other applicants and defeat the very purpose of the RTI Act. The said Act should be used wisely and responsibly. CIC while admonishing the appellant, advised him to refrain from filing similar and multiple RTI applications thereby wasting the time and resources of the Public Authority and the Commission.

 

Manner of attestation explained

The Appellant requested the CIC that certified copy of documents should be provided to him. PIO submitted that complete information had been provided to the appellant. CIC., after perusing the records observed that certified copies had not been provided to the applicant. The CIC further noted that the DoP&T in its OM No. No. 10/1/2013-IR dated 06.10.2015 had stated as under: “2. In addition, wherever the applicant has requested for ‘certified copies’ of the documents or records, the CPIO should endorse on the document “True copy of the document/record supplied under RTI Act”, sign the document with date, above a seal containing name of the officer, CPIO and name of public authority.”

In view of the above, the Commission directed the PIO to give certified copy of the information as sought by the appellant in his RTI application.

Attendance details to be disclosed

Appellant had sought information whether her husband had attended duty or not on the dates as annexed along with the RTI application. PIO rejected the request under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act on the ground that it was the personal information of the third party. CIC has held that the information regarding the presence/absence of a government employee is not the personal information of the third party, that it is public information and can be disclosed under the RTI Act.

RTI response should be sent through speed/registered post

CPIO submitted that relevant documents had been sent to the Appellant by Special Messenger. Appellant’s house was found locked and the Dak was handed over to the Gate Chowkidar of the Society. CIC expressed displeasure over the mode of dispatch of reply to the RTI Application and directed the CPIO to ensure that replies to RTI Applications be sent through speed/registered post only.

 

Seeking clarification or interpretation of rules outside the purview of RTI

Appellant had sought clarification whether the rule of availing 15 days paternity leave is applicable to Sainik School employees and whether paternity leave be availed by a Sainik School employee 15 days before the birth of his child or within 6 months from the date of birth of his child. CIC upheld CPIO’s stand that the interpretation of rules is outside the ambit of the RTI Act.