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Panchayat budget grants and Panchayat Works Expenditure

Often advice is sought about seeking information from Panchayat or Municipality Budget Grants, Development Works including funds used from Central and State sponsored employment guarantee schemes, MP/MLA LAD funds etc. Help and advice is also sought about seeking information to ascertain whether Municipality / Panchayat authorities are utilising funds as planned or contracts awarded are executed as per schedule. In such cases, it is necessary to seek details of budget grant and the expenditure on development works form such authorities.   Please file RTI Application with the PIO of Municipality or Panchayat and seek following information - For Budget grant :   [1] certified copy of the Head-wise budget grant sanctioned for the financial year 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 (From 1st April .... to 31st Mar..... of last three years)   [2] Certified copy of the statement showing revenue received by the Panchyat by way of cess and taxes, and other revenue receipts / collection during the financial year 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 (From 1st April .... to 31st Mar..... of last three years)   [3] Certified copy of the statement showing Funds received from Central or State sponsored schemes like MGNREGA or MP/MLA Local Area Development Fund by the Panchyat during the financial year 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 (or From 1st April .... to 31st Mar..... of last three years)   For Work Expenses.   [1] certified copy of Letter of Acceptance of all works awarded from 1/4/20.... and 31/3/20..... (last 2 years)   (LoA shall contain exact description of work awarded on contract, name and address of contractor to whom the work awarded, accepted contract value, date of commencement, target date of completion.)   [2] certified copy of latest paid On-account bill (OR running bill) in respect of all on-going works.   (On-Account Bill/Running Bill shall contain details payments made in the past)   [3] certified copy of Final Bills of all contracts completed from 1/4/20.... and 31/3/20..... (last 2 years)   (Final bill will show all details of amount paid, recoveries due and made, escalation in rates or contract value allowed, final Completion Cost etc.)   (4) Details of Service Tax deducted form each of the contractor and remitted to Central Excise and Customs Department during the period 1/4/20.... and 31/3/20..... (last 2 years)   (The amount of Service Tax can be used to assess the correctness of payments released to the contractor).   (If you still have doubt about the quantum of physical work executed vis-a-vis the quantum of work awarded on contract in respect of any specific work, you can seek: )   [5] certified copy of the 'Schedule of Work' in respect of Letter of acceptance No. ................. dated ................   (Schedule of work shall show quantity of each item included in a contract. With the schedule of work in hand, you can cross-verify physical quantum and assess discrepancy if any.)   (You can cut-paste these items in your RTI Application format after deleting bold bracketed portion. Modify wherever necessary - period of information / municipality or panchayat etc)   Application Format (if any) and Fee shall be as per RTI Rules of your state, which can be viewed in this link: CENTRAL / STATE RTI RULES - GUIDE

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RAVEENA_O

 

What is larger public interest

Most often the Public Information Officers, Departmental Appellate Authorities and even few Information Commissioners are referring to larger public interest, to deny information sought by an applicant. Element of larger public interest does not involve in every information sought by an RTI applicant.   The issue involved has wide legal ramifications. Let us consider the object of the Act:     Now, there are two conflicting public interests -   [1] the right of citizens to protect their commercial confidence, trade secret etc ( the protected interest) under Sec-8(1)(d) OR Sec-8(1)(d) or protected privacy under Sec-8(1)(j)   AND   [2] the right of citizens to get information on governance and transparency ( the right to information) under Sec-3   Both these rights are legally bestowed on all our citizens. Both are conflicting in nature. Therefore, a adjudicating authority has to decide which interest out of these two conflicting interests weigh more (larger), to arrive at a conclusive decision, which is called the larger public interest. Question of larger public interest arises, only when it involves two legal interests protected by law, say, right to access information in possession of the public authorities and the right to protected interests [sec.8(1)(d) & (e)] or right to privacy [sec-8(1)(j)]. Both rights are not absolute or complete. Public interest element sweeps through Section-8(1)(d), (e) and (j). In case of a clash, larger public interest is the determinative test.   There is a misunderstanding that if a large number of citizens are interested in a piece of information, it shows larger public interest, which is absolutely not correct.   Larger public interest is nothing but balancing between two legally vested public interests (as shown above) and arrive at a conclusion either to disclose or to deny the information in order to maintain a balance between the two public interests - the necessity to disclose such protected information shall weigh more compared to the possible harm or injury which can cause in disclosing such protected interest.   Often we find that PIOs, FAAs and even few Information Commissioners are denying information giving reasons that larger public interest is not involved. Such decisions are absolutely wrong. Question of larger public arises only when disclosure of exempted information is required to be decided by an adjudicating authority. To be more specific, the question of larger public interest involves only when disclosure of information exempted under Section-8(1)(d), (e) or (j) is involved. In all other cases, there is absolutely no reason to decide the question of larger public interest for disclosing information to an RTI Applicant.

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RAVEENA_O

 

Private or deemed universities are under rti

Often queries are raised in our forum whether private or deemed universities are under the ambit of Right to Information Act or not. Many such private or deemed universities did not designate Public Information Officers and no RTI link provided in their website. Mandatory disclosures required under Section-4 are also not complied with by these private or deemed universities. They ignore RTI applications and Appeals.   Private or Deemed Universities are public authorities within the meaning of Section-2(f) of RTI Act. The legal provisions which make these private or deemed universities Public Authority are:-   Section-3 of the UGC Act 1956 reads as under: Application of Act to institutions for higher studies other than Universities: The Central Government may, on the advice of the Commission, declare, by notification in the Official Gazette, that any institution for higher education, other than a University, shall be deemed to be a University for the purposes of this Act, and on such a declaration being made, all the provisions of this Act shall apply to such institution as if it were a University within the meaning of clause (f) of section 2.   Section 2 clause (f) of the UGC Act further stipulates as under: "University" means a University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act, and includes any such institution as may, in consultation with the University concerned, be recognized by the Commission in accordance with the regulations made in this behalf under this Act.   Section-2(h) of RTI Act, 2005 provides as under: (h) “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted—   (a) by or under the Constitution; (b) by any other law made by Parliament; © by any other law made by State Legislature; (d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any—   Private Universities are created either by law made by Parliament or by state legislature or by notification issued or order made by appropriate government, without which they are not considered as deemed / private universities. ( Or else, they remain only fake universities). A conjunctive reading of the definition of public authority under section-2(h) of RTI Act, with Section-2(f) and Section-3 of University Grants Commission Act, 1956, would amply make it clear that such private or deemed universities are public authorities.   Consequently, each such private or deemed university is required to designate Public Information Officer and First Appellate Authority and decide RTI Applications and Appeals received by it.   In case any private or deemed university is not responding to RTI Applications, the applicant may file First Appeal, Second Appeal and Complaint before CIC or SIC, as the case may be. ***   Download copy of this Blog:

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Caste certificate and rti

The Central Information Commission in Second Appeal cases - F.No. CIC/SS/A/2013/ 002007-YA, F.No. CIC/SS/A/2013/002514-YA & F.No. CIC/SS/A/2013/ 002008-YA decided on 13/11/2014 held that the caste and educational qualifications of an employee is personal information of third party. The Information Commission erred in passing such an order holding that the Caste Certificate is exempted from disclosure under Section-8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) of RTI Act. The Commission denied disclosure of caste certificate mainly claiming exemption on the ground of fiduciary relationship and invasion of privacy of individual falling under Section-8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) of the Act, by quoting citation from Supreme Court decisions. The caste certificate of an employee is on record as submitted by him as a prospective candidate for the recruitment, along with his application for recruitment and has become part of the recruitment process, and later become part of service record in post recruitment period. The caste certificate of an employee has no relation to his performance in that organization. The Central Information Commission failed to establish as to how fiduciary relationship exists between a prospective candidate and a recruitment authority, when the prospective candidate submitted caste certificate to the recruitment authority. The Commission also failed to establish whether there shall be invasion of privacy of an individual by disclosing his caste certificate. The commission arrived at a wrong conclusion without properly appreciating and adjudicating these two core issues.   Fiduciary relationship is well explained by the Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of CBSE Vs Aditya Bandhopadhyay (Para-20 to 27). An applicant who once submitted an application along with caste certificate to a recruiting authority, which discharges a statutory duty, does not maintain any relationship, much less fiduciary relationship with that recruiting authority. The Recruiting authority is not duty bound to act for the exclusive benefit of a particular candidate who submitted caste certificate, in the fiduciary relationship, but shall be required to act reasonably and fairly and consider the merit amongst various candidates and may be required to act against the beneficial interest of such candidates who submitted caste certificates. The recruiting authority which received the caste certificate need not protect the beneficial interest of that individual candidate but required to consider the meritorious candidate amongst those submitted similar certificates. The recruiting authority is therefore required to act with utmost objectivity and not for the beneficial interest of the candidate who submitted a caste certificate. The recruiting authority shall reject the candidature of that particular candidate in consideration of merit of other candidates, without the consent and knowledge of the candidate. Thus, the recruitment authority is not required to act for the best interest and benefit of the candidate in question. The recruitment authority is required to act for the benefit of third party (other candidates of merit) without the consent of the candidate in question. Therefore there no element of fiduciary relationship exists between the prospective candidate and the recruiting authority. Moreover, once an application is submitted to the recruiting authority, the recruiting authority acts in its own without any interactive or consultative relation with the candidate. The relation between recruitment authority and the prospective candidate is limited to the conduct of recruitment. Therefore there is not even an iota of fiduciary relationship between the candidate and the recruitment authority. The Caste Certificate issued by a public authority, which is relied and acted upon by another public authority for the purpose of recruitment. Thus, the Caste Certificate is a public document in public domain and cannot become a document held by the later in fiduciary relationship. Central Information Commission therefore failed to appreciate the factual and legal position of the issues involved and erred in holding that the Caste Certificate is exempted from disclosure u/s 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act. The next issue involved is invasion of the privacy of an individual. Before adverting to this issue, it is necessary to have a close look at Section-8(1)(j) of the Act. The first condition is the relationship to any public activity or interest. In this case, the caste certificate in question has become part of public record out of the recruitment process. The process of recruitment starts by the recruiting authority, well before a person is appointed to a post. Recruiting authorities such as UPSC, SSC, SPSC, PESB, RRB etc. are entrusted with public activity of recruitment to public service in accordance with the express provisions of the Constitution. Recruitment is therefore a public activity. Recruitment process has involvement of a large number of citizens. Large numbers of candidates become desirous to avail the benefit of recruitment and participate in the recruitment process. Thus, beneficial interest of a class seeking employment is involved in any recruitment. Recruitment process is done in accordance with the policy and rules framed by Government. Recruiting authority is required to act in fairness and within the framework of the recruitment Rules so framed by the Government. Therefore, recruitment is a public activity having public interest. The caste certificate in question is submitted by the candidate in response to recruitment call by Recruiting Authority as part of its public activity. Recruiting authority considered and acted on such caste certificate in discharge of its public activity and extended statutory benefits to the candidate in exclusion of other similarly situated or better situated candidates of other categories. The consideration applied by recruiting authority is based on caste certificate submitted by the candidate. Therefore the caste certificate in question has relation to public activity as well as public interest. The next issue emanating from Section-8(1)(j) is the unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual. A mere look at the contents of the OBC Caste Certificate would reveal that it contains very simple aspect i.e – The contents of this certificate only indicate the caste, village, and district of residence of the person to whom it is issued. This certificate is issued by a statutory authority in compliance and discharge of statutory duty. This is a public document issued for availing certain statutory benefits by the person concerned in exclusion of other similarly situated persons. Neither the caste of an individual nor his ordinary place of residence are confidential or protected privacy. A person’s caste or community and place of residence (Village and District) are openly known to the entire village or area. Disclosure of the contents of this certificate cannot therefore invade the privacy of that individual. Even after appointment, the caste and native place of an employee is reflected in various other public documents such as seniority list, LTC declaration etc which are widely circulated and hence not protected privacy. The Caste certificate contains no such information which may invade the privacy of that individual. The commission therefore erred in holding that the disclosure of the caste certificate shall invade the privacy of that individual. The commission further failed to appreciate the core issues involved, while denying the information relying on the Apex Court decision on Girish Deshpande’s case. The judgment on Girish Deshpande interpreted and defined the term “personal information”. The substantial question of law considered by Apex Court, in that case, was whether the Information Commission acting under the Right to Information Act, 2005 was right in denying information regarding the personal matters pertaining to service career on the ground that the information sought for was qualified to be “personal information” as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act and held that the performance of an employee/officer in an organization is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression “personal information”, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest. The document sought (Caste Certificate) in this case is not pertaining to the service career or generated during service career of that employee. The Information Commission failed to appreciate and differentiate between service career and recruitment. The Caste Certificate in question found a place in service record since it was submitted by the candidate to the Recruiting Authority in response to the recruitment call, which is a Public Activity entrusted to recruiting authorities such as UPSC, SSC, SPSC, PESB, RRB etc. The recruitment call and its process are public activities. The process of recruitment started by the recruitment authority well before a person is appointed to a post in public service. Recruitment is a public activity involving a large number of citizens having the beneficial interest and the recruiting authority is required to act in fairness and within the framework of the recruitment rules. Therefore, recruitment is a public activity having public interest. The caste certificate in question, submitted by the candidate in response to recruitment call by the Recruiting Authority has become part of its public activity. The Recruiting authority considered and acted on such caste certificate and extended statutory benefits to the candidate in exclusion of other similarly situated candidates or better-situated candidates in other categories. Therefore the caste certificate in question has a definite relation to public activity as well as public interest. What is dealt with by Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of Girish Deshpande is the performance of an employee in an organisation and service matters pertaining to such performance. The issue involved in the present case is with respect to parting of Caste Certificate submitted by a candidate to a recruiting authority during public activity of recruitment, which became part of service record, originated prior to the recruitment and appointment of that individual to public service. That part of service record pertaining to the recruitment and appointment of that employee, has no relation to the performance of that employee in that organization. The cited decision of Apex Court did not adjudicate any issue with respect to recruitment process and the issues pertaining to that public activity. Therefore the facts and circumstances, as well as the ratio of that judgment, is not applicable to the instant case dealt with by the Central Information Commission. The decision of Apex Court dated 13/12/2012 in the case of Bihar Public Service Commission Vs. Saiyed Hussain Abbas Rizwi & Anr relied by the Information Commission is not germane to the facts and circumstances of the present case. What is dealt with in the cited portion is about weighing the larger public interest between the right to privacy and right to information? The other point dealt with by Apex Court in that judgment is about secrecy in appointment i.e. "Certain matters, particularly in relation to the appointment, are required to be dealt with great confidentiality. The information may come to the knowledge of the authority as a result of disclosure by others who give that information in confidence and with complete faith, integrity and fidelity. Secrecy of such information shall be maintained, thus, bringing it within the ambit of fiduciary capacity." The Commission has wrongly assumed that the Caste Certificate in question fall within the ambit of this Certain Matters, which was never the interpretation of the Hon'ble Apex Court. The educational qualification of an individual is not confidential or secret. Such qualifications are conferred to individuals in convocations, meaning thereby that such qualifications are publicly celebrated and there is nothing which affect the privacy of an individual. On the other hand it add a feature to the cap of that individual. How can it affect the privacy of an individual? The Central Information Commission has arrived at an erroneous conclusion that the caste and educational qualifications of employees are a personal and third party. The decision is unfounded and not based on sound and justified reasoning. Hence, the decision cannot stand scrutiny of law and required to be challenged before the High Court.   BLOG - CASTE CERTIFICATE UNDER RTI.pdf   Discussion thread: Caste certificates of Govt employees are deniable under RTI

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Jain minority certificate

JAIN MINORITY CERTIFICATE   Lots of new threads are started seeking guidance about Jain Minority Certificate. The Government of India Notification dated 23-10-1993 declared Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Paris) as Minority communities under the National Commission for Minorities Act 1992. In 2004, the Cabinet Committee stated that the minority status is to be determined by the respective States Thereby, the States have been provided the prerogative to grant the minority status to a community. Jain minority is the latest addition to this minority group. The following States recognize Jain as a Minority Community:   1. Andhra Pradesh 2. Chhattisgarh 3. Delhi 4. Jharkand 5. Karnataka 6. Madhya Pradesh 7. Maharashtra 8. Rajasthan 9. Uttar Pradesh 10. Uttarakhand 11. West Bengal   There is no minority community certificate. The school leaving certificate shall indicate the Religion – Jain. The community certificate can also be obtained from the Tahsildar as in the case of other communities. These are the conclusive proof of a person belonging to Jain Community.   To avail minority benefits for educational and scholarship purpose, one must have community certificate i.e SSC, School Leaving Certificate, Community Certificate issued by revenue authorities along with income certificate. The School leaving certificate is an accepted document as proof of age, religion, etc. Ensure that the school records have the religion noted as Jain. In case the child has already passed out from school, make an affidavit executed before Metropolitan Magistrate or Notary on the stamp paper of Rs.20/- (The Affidavit should incorporate all the details of the proofs submitted) stating the religion as Jain. Publish a declaration in the Gazette.   The minority status accorded to Jain community by Union government is expected to benefit a number of students who come from economically weaker sections, especially in rural areas in States. One of the biggest benefits from minority status will be in education sector, both for students as well institutions run by Jains. Students from Jain community will now have access to a number of Central scholarships.   Most of the benefits flowing out of Minority status is based on income level. Jain students whose family’s annual income is less than Rs. 2.5 lakh are eligible for scholarship given by State governments, which recognizes Jain as minority community. This limit may vary from state to state. But with national minority status accorded by Union government, this limit goes up to Rs. 4.5 lakh, under Centrally-sponsored scholarships.   OTHER BENEFITS   The National Minorities Development Finance Corporation (NMDFC):   The NMDFC was set up by Government of India to provide a “special focus to economic development of minorities ”. The people belonging to five communities i.e. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists & Parsis notified as minorities under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 are the beneficiaries. Jains are notified as minority by some states mentioned above and hence are eligible for financial schemes announced by those states.   Admission: Students from Jain community stand a good chance of getting admission to a course of their choice if the course is offered by a college run by a Jain minority trust. This is because 50% of the seats in a minority institution are reserved for students from the same minority community.   Reimbursement of fees: The State commissions for Minorities, from time to time, announce training programmes aimed at creating employable skills. All Jain students are advised to lookup websites of their respective state commission for minorities for announcements. The fees for some of these programmes are reimbursed.   Scholarships for Students: The beneficiaries of Pre and Post-Matriculation Scholarships announced by central government are the five minority communities notified by National Commission for Minorities. Education being a state subject, each state has its own scholarship schemes. The website of relevant State Commissions for Minorities will provide detailed information.   Benefits to Institutes There are, broadly, three benefits available to a minority institution that are not available to other institutions:   Minority educational institutions do not have to maintain reservation in employment or admissions for SCs, STs and OBCs as required to be done by other educational institutions.   In terms of control over employees, minority educational institutions have much greater powers than other institutions. For instance, in selection of teachers and principals, minority educational institution can have a selection committee which does not include university representative. Similarly, while in ordinary schools, headmasters normally have to be appointed on the basis of seniority, but minority managements can select a headmaster of their choice.   In matters of admission of students, minority educational institutions can have reservation of up to 50 per cent for students of their community.   A minority institution may be self-financed or government aided.   ***   Also please refer to: http://www.sakp.ac.in/sakp/myfiles/downloads/Sakp_Minority_Annexures.pdf

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RAVEENA_O

 

Right to information : New dimensions and interpretations

INFORMATION DISSEMINATED TO PUBLIC OR ACCESSIBLE TO CITIZENS UNDER SEC-4(1) & OTHER STATUTORY PROVISIONS ARE NOT INFORMATION ACCESSIBLE UNDER RTI ACT
INFORMATION “HELD BY OR UNDER THE CONTROL OF PUBLIC AUTHORITY” – INTERPRETED BY HON'BLE DELHI HIGH COURT
‘Right to information’, is defined as ‘the right to information accessible under this Act (RTI Act), which is held by or under the control of any public authority’. Way back in 2006, the issue regarding information accessible under another statute (Companies Act) came up before Central Information Commission for adjudication in the case of Arun Verma Vs. Dept of Company Affairs. Prof. M.M. Ansari, then Information Commissioner held that there is already a provision under the Companies Act (Sec-610) and the Appellant may accordingly approach the Registrar of Companies as advised by the Appellate Authority to obtain the relevant information.   Same issue came up again before Sh. A.N. Tiwari, Information Commissioner in the case of Sh. K. Lall Vs. Sh. M. K . Bagri, Assistant Registrar of Companies & CPIO, [CIC/AT/A/2007/00112] decided on 12/04/2007. The arguments raised by the Public Authority before the Commission was that once they have put some information in the public domain and put a price on accessing that information, they cannot be said to hold control of that information in terms of Section 2(j) of the RTI Act. If any application is made under RTI Act to access such already disclosed information, it would suffice if the public authority informed the applicant where and how to access that information and also the fact that it was already in the public domain. They have pointed out that the pricing of access to such documents is equivalent to putting a price on a publication brought out by a public authority. Once an information is either placed in the public domain through a website or through a public announcement about the availability of that information in public domain on payment of a predetermined price, or by bringing out a priced publication, the information is automatically excluded from the purview of the RTI Act, at least in regard to the methodology and the fee for accessing that information.   The Central Information Commissioner observed – inferentially it would mean that once a certain information is placed in the public domain accessible to the citizens either freely, or on payment of a pre-determined price, that information cannot be said to be ‘held’ or ‘under the control of’ the public authority and, thus would cease to be an information accessible under the RTI Act. This interpretation is further strengthened by the provisions of the RTI Act in Sections 4(2), 4(3) and 4(4), which oblige the public authority to constantly endeavour “to take steps in accordance with the requirement of clause (b) of subsection (1) of the Section 4 to provide as much information suo-moto to the public at regular intervals through various means of communication including internet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information” (Section 4 sub-section 2). This Section further elaborates the position. It states that “All materials shall be disseminated taking into consideration the cost effectiveness, local language and the most effective method of communication in that local area and the information should be easily accessible, to the extent possible in electronic format with the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, available free or at such cost of the medium or the print cost price as may be prescribed.” The explanation to the subsection 4 section 4 goes on to further clarify that the word “disseminated” used in this Section would mean the medium of communicating the information to the public which include, among others, the internet or any other means including inspection of office of any public authority. xx xxx xx xx Once the information is brought into the public domain it is excluded from the purview of the RTI Act and, the right to access this category of information shall be on the basis of whether the public authority discloses it free, or at such cost of the medium or the print cost price “as may be prescribed”. The Act therefore vests in the public authority the power and the right to prescribe the mode of access to voluntarily disclosed information, i.e. either free or at a prescribed cost / price.   The chronology of CIC Decisions on information ‘held by’ or ‘under the control of the public authority’ would show that except Sh. Shailesh Gandhi, all other Information Commissioners concurred with the view of Prof M.M. Ansari in the case of Arun Verma Vs. Dept of Company Affairs decided on 29.03.2006 [CIC/MA/A/2006/00016] in which it was held that there is already a provision for seeking information under the Companies Act. The appellant may accordingly approach the Registrar of the Companies (ROC), as advised by the appellate authority, to obtain the relevant information. There is no question of denial of information to him.   This was followed by decision of Information Commissioner, Sh. A.N. Tiwari, in the case of Sh. K. Lall Vs. Sh. M. K . Bagri, Assistant Registrar of Companies & CPIO, [CIC/AT/A/2007/00112], decided on 12/04/2007 in which the Commission considered the issue with regard to interplay between Section 610 of the Companies Act and the rights of a citizen to obtain information under RTI Act. Sh. A.N. Tiwari by a detailed and considered decision held that information which can be accessed by resort to Section 610 of the Companies Act cannot be accessed by resort to the provisions of the RTI Act.   This view was again followed by Sh. A.N. Tiwari in a subsequent order dt 29.08.2007 in the case of “Shriram (Dada) Tichkule Vs. P.K.Galchor, Assistant Registrar of Companies ” [CIC/AT/A/2007/ 00723]. This view was also followed in the case of Sh. Sonal Amit Shah Vs. Registrar of Companies [CIC/MA/A/2008/00062 & 63] dt 31.03.2008 and various other decisions   Thereafter, Central Information Commissioner (Sh. Shailesh Gandhi) in the case of Dharmendra Kumar Garg Vs RoC [Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2009/000702/4128 & Adjunct Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/ 2009/ 000702] decided on 10-09-2009 took a different view and held that – If a Public Authority has a procedure of disclosing certain information which can also be accessed by a Citizen using the Right to Information Act, it is the Citizen’s prerogative to decide which route he wishes to take . The existence of another method of accessing information cannot be a justification to deny the Citizen his freedom to exercise his fundamental right codified under the Right to Information Act. If the Parliament wanted to restrict this right, it would have been stated expressly in the Act. Nobody else has the right to constrain or limit the rights of the Sovereign Citizen.   The Commission observed that there was no provision in the Right to Information Act which restrained the Citizen’s right to use it if another route to access information has been offered. It was a Citizen’s right to use the most convenient and efficacious means available to him.   It appeared to the Commission that information was being denied to the Complainant without any valid grounds and this delay had caused mental agony to the Complainant who was living under the constant fear of arrest.   The Complaint was allowed. The Commission directed that complete information was to be given to the Complainant before 25 July 2009. If records were not available for any of the queries, this would be stated categorically. The Commission issued a show cause notice to the PIO directing him to give his written submissions to show cause why penalty should not be imposed on him as mandated under Section 20 (1) before 5 August 2009. He was also directed to submit proof of having given the information to the Complainant.   In the Adjunct proceedings, the show cause was closed since the information has been supplied and the commission felt that there was reasonable cause for denial of the information.   During pendency of the Adjunct proceedings, the Public Authority approached the Delhi High Court. Hon'ble Delhi HC decided the matter vide judgment dt: 01/06/2012 and held that : The expression ‘held by or under the control of any public authority’ in relation to information , means that information which is held by the public authority under its control to the exclusion of others. It cannot mean that information which the public authority has already let to, i.e. shared generally with the citizens, and also that information, in respect of which there is a statutory mechanism evolved (independent of the RTI Act) which obliges the Public Authority to share the same with the citizenry by following the prescribed procedure, and upon fulfillment of the prescribed conditions. This is so, because in respect of such information, which the public authority is statutorily obliged to disseminate, it cannot be said that the public authority holds or controls the same. There is no exclusivity in such holding or control. In fact, the control vests in the seeker of the information, who has only to operate the statutorily prescribed mechanism to access the information. It is not this kind of information, which appears to fall within the meaning of the expression “right to information”, as the information in relation to which the ‘right to information’ is specifically conferred by the RTI Act is that information which “is held by or under the control of any public authority”. (emphasis applied).   Mere prescription of a higher charge in the other statutory mechanism (in this case Section 610 of the Companies Act), than that prescribed under the RTI Act does not make any difference whatsoever. The right available to any person to seek inspection/copies of documents under Section 610 of the Companies Act is governed by the Companies (Central Government’s) General Rules & Forms, 1956, which are statutory rules and prescribe the fees for inspection of documents etc. in Rule 21A. The said rules being statutory in nature and specific in their application, do not get overridden by the rules framed under the RTI Act with regard to prescription of fee for supply of information, which is general in nature, and apply to all kinds of applications made under the RTI Act to seek information. It would also be complete waste of public funds to require the creation and maintenance of two parallel machineries by the RoC one under Section 610 of the Companies Act and the other under the RTI Act to provide the same information to an applicant. It would lead to unnecessary and avoidable duplication of work and consequent expenditure. During pendency of the WP before the Delhi HC, in the case of Smt. Dayawati Sharma Vs. Registrar of Companies [ CIC/SS/C/2011/ 000607] decided on 23.03.2012, once again the same issue had been raised and the Central Information Commissioner has preferred to follow the view of Sh. A.N. Tiwari in the case of K. Lall Vs. Ministry of Company Affairs [supra].   Subsequent to Delhi HC decision, in the Case of S.K. Sharma Vs CBSE [CIC/RM/A/2012/001337] decided on 07/08/2013, the issue of accessibility to the information through departmental route has been upheld by Central Information Commissioner Sh. Rajiv Mathur, and followed the ratio laid down by Delhi HC in RoC’s case   In summation, the right of the citizen under the RTI Act is to obtain information ‘held by or under the control of any public authority’ i.e. information, which is held by the public authority under its control to the exclusion of others. It cannot mean ‘information’ which the public authority has already disseminated and shared generally with citizens, and also that information, in respect of which there is a statutory mechanism evolved (independent of the RTI Act) which obliges the Public Authority to share the same with the citizenry by following the prescribed procedure, and upon fulfillment of the prescribed conditions. Information already disseminated under Sec-4 of the RTI Act, thus, do not fall within the ambit of Sec-2(j), i.e. ‘held by or under the control of any public authority’. Departmental procedure contained in other statutes for dissemination (inspection / copy ) of information as that of Sec-610 of Companies Act fall within the scope and ambit of Sec-4(xv). Right under the RTI Act can be exercised only in respect of information HELD BY or UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE PUBLIC AUTHORITY. Information disseminated to public, either free or on prescribed fee, are also not information accessible within the meaning of Section-2(j).   Cases referred:   [1] Arun Verma Vs. Dept of Company Affairs dt 29-03-2006 – CIC [2] K.LAL vs M.K. BAGRI, Asst RoC dt 12-04-2007 – CIC [3] SHRIRAM TICHKULE vs.P.K.GAICHOR, ARoC dt 29-08-2007 – CIC [4] SONAL AMIT SHAH vs. RoC dt 31-03-2008 – CIC [5] DHARMENDRA KUMAR GARG vs. REGISTRAR OF COMPANIES dt 10-09-2009 – CIC [6] DAYAWATI SHARMA vs. RoC dt 23-03-2012 – CIC [7] S.K. SHARMA vs. CBSE dt 07-08-2013 – CIC [8] DELHI HC - ROC vs. DHARMENDRA KUMAR GARG dt 01-06-2012   download this blog in pdf format [ATTACH]10220[/ATTACH]

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Who can demand information under rti act?

Doubts are frequently raised, whether the Right to Information Act confers right to seek information to a legal or juristic person. The term ‘person’ is not specifically defined in the Act. A concomitant issue for consideration is whether a juristic person can invoke fundamental rights considering Right to Information as a right in the nature of fundamental right. Before embarking upon these issues, it is necessary to revisit the relevant provisions of law.   Section-3 of the RTI Act confers the Right to Information to all CITIZENS. Section-6(1) further provides that a ‘person’ who desires to obtain information under the Act shall make a request in writing.   Section-5(1) provides that every public authority shall designate as many officers as the Central or State Public Information Officers in all administrative units or offices under it to provide information to persons requesting for the information under this Act.   Section-5(3) provides that every Central or State Public Information Officer shall deal with requests from persons seeking information and render reasonable assistance to the persons seeking such information.   Section-18(1) provides that Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall be the duty of the Central or State Information Commission to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person.   Section 19(1) provides that any person, who does not receive a decision within the time specified or aggrieved by a decision of CPIO or SPIO, as the case may, prefer an appeal.   The legislature in its wisdom has used the word ‘person’ to denote an applicant, appellant or complainant in various Sections viz. 5(1), 6(1), 6(2) 7(1), 7(3), 7(4), 7(5), 7(6), 7(8), 8(3), 18(1), 19(1) and 26(2).   A conjunctive reading of all these Sections, especially section-3 with 6(1), would make it clear that a Citizen as a person can seek public information.   A "Citizen", under the Constitution Part II, that deals with "citizenship" can only be a natural born person and it does not even by implication include a legal or a juristic person. Section 2(1)(f) of the Citizenship Act defines that a "person" does not include a company, an association or a body of individuals whether incorporated or not."   “Person” has been defined in Section 3(42) of the General Clauses Act, 1897, to include any company or association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not.   The first issue is whether a juristic person can seek information under the Right to Information Act?   The issue whether the word “person’ mentioned in Rule-1 of Order XXXIII of CPC refers only to a natural person or includes also other juridical persons came up before the Apex Court in Union Bank of India Vs. Khader International Construction & Ors (AIR 2001 SC 2277), in which the Apex Court held that a public limited company which is otherwise entitled to maintain a suit as a legal person can very well maintain an application under Order XXXIII Rule-1 of CPC. The Apex Court made reference to serious of decisions on the subject and held that a survey of various decisions should show that preponderance of the view is that the word “person” referred to in Order XXXIII includes a juristic person also. The Apex Court quoted with approval an earliest decision of Division Bench of the Madras High Court in Perumal Koundan Vs. Tirumalrayapuram Jananukoola Dhanasekhara Sanka Nidhi Ltd (AIR 1918 Madras 362) in which case the company registered under the Companies Act went into liquidation and the appointed official liquidator applied to file a suit on behalf of the company in forma pauperis against the petitioner therein and the petitioners raised objections that the company could not file a suit in forma pauperis. Repelling this contention the Division Bench held: “We are unable to accept this contention. The word ‘person’ is not defined in the Code of Civil Procedure and consequently the definition of word ‘person’ as including any Company or Association or body of individuals whether incorporated or not, in the General Clauses Act ( X of 1897 ) would apply unless there is something repugnant to the subject or context.” In the same case, the Hon'ble Court has come to a conclusion that the word “person’ is to be given it’s meaning in the context in which it is used. The Hon'ble Apex Court has cited the following observations of Lord Selborne in Pharmaceutical Society Vs. London and Provincial Supply Association (6 Appeal Cases 857):   “There can be no question that the word ‘person’ may and prima facie does, in a public statue include a person in law; that is a corporation, as well as a natural person. But although that is a sense which the word will bear in law, and which as I said, perhaps ought to be attributed to it in the construction of a statute unless there should be any reason for a contrary construction, it is never to be forgotten, that in its popular sense and ordinary use it does not extend so far.” It is thus a settled position of law that the term ‘person’ referred to in General Clauses Act, 1897 include natural person and juristic persons. However, the Right to Information Act confers the right not to all ‘persons’ but only on ‘citizens’ and there is no ambiguity about the definition of the term ‘citizen’. A juristic person can be a “person” but he cannot be a “citizen”. Every citizen is a person but the vice versa of the same is not true. An artificial or juristic person cannot be a citizen.   The issue whether corporation or juridical person can be recognized as citizen has been adjudicated in detail by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Bennett Coleman & Co. and ors. Vs Union of India ( AIR 1973 SC 106 ) by revisiting its earlier decisions.   Another issue for consideration is whether a juristic person can enforce fundamental rights?   This issue has come up before the Apex Court in the case of State Trading Corporation of India Limited Vs. Commercial Tax Officer, Visakhapatnam [(1994) 4 SCR 99 ] and the Hon'ble Apex Court held that the State Trading Corporation is not a citizen which necessarily means that the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Article 19 which can be claimed only by citizens cannot be claimed by such a corporation. In the case of Tata Engineering & Locomotive Co Vs. State of Bihar (AIR 1965 SC 40) the Apex Court held that a corporation was not a citizen within the meaning of Article 19, and, therefore, could not invoke that Article. The majority held that nationality and citizenship were distinct and separate concepts. The view of the Apex Court was that the word “citizen” in Part-II and in Article 19 of the Constitution meant the same thing. The result was that an incorporated company could not be a citizen so as to invoke Fundamental Rights. The corporate veil it was said could be lifted where the company is charged with trading with the enemy or perpetrating fraud with Revenue authorities. In the case of Charanjit Lal Chaudhuri Vs. Union of India and ors [(1950) SCR 869] the majority view was that an incorporated company can come up to this court for enforcement of fundamental rights.   In the case of Express News Papers and Another Vs Union of India and others [(1959) SCR 12], Sakal Papers (P) Ltd and Ors Vs. Union of India (AIR 1962 SC 305) relief has been granted to the petitioners claiming fundamental rights as shareholders or editors of newspaper companies. In both these cases, there was no plea about the maintainability of the writ petition on the ground that one of the petitioners happened to be a company.   In the case of Divisional Forest Officer Vs. Bishwanath Tea Co. Ltd, the Apex Court held that: ….. the High Court overlooked the settled legal position that a juristic person such as a Corporation is not entitled to any of the freedoms guaranteed by Article 19. The respondent was the sole petitioner in the High Court. It is a company incorporated under the Companies Act. The fundamental right claimed under Article 19(1)(g) is to practice any profession or carry on any occupation, trade or business. The respondent (company) contended that it had a right to carry on its trade or business of cultivating and raising a tea garden and as part of it to cut timber and remove the same from the leased area without the payment of royalty and that insistence upon payment of royalty unsupported by law is an unreasonable restriction denying the fundamental right guaranteed to the respondent. Article 19(1)(g) guarantees the fundamental freedom to a citizen. The respondent not being a citizen was not entitled to complain of breach or violation of fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g). [see State Trading Corporation of India Ltd Vs Commercial Tax Officer, Vishakhapatnam & Tata Engineering and Locomotive Co. Vs. State of Bihar.] However, the shareholders of a company can complain of infringement of their fundamental rights. [see Bennett Coleman & Co. and Ors Vs. Union of India and Ors.] Such is not the case pleaded. Therefore, the writ petition on the allegation of infringement of fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g) at the instance of respondent company alone was not maintainable.   The issue whether a company can seek information came up before the Central Information Commission in a number of cases. It was held by the double bench of CIC in the case of Inder Grover Vs Ministry of Railways decided on 27/6/2006 (CIC/OK/A/2006/00121) that it would have been in order if the CPIO had declined the information under Section-3 of the Act as the Appellant had applied as the Managing Director of the Company and not as citizen of India.   In the case of Bibhav Kumar Vs. University of Delhi decided on 3/7/2006 (CIC/OK/A/2006/00050) the double bench of the Commission held that “the Commission could not agree with the PIO’s contention that the information was sought on behalf of an institution. The Appellant had applied in his own name and had only given his address as that of an NGO for the purpose of correct delivery of post. He had informed the PIO about the change of address. Thus merely giving the address of an NGO does not imply that the institution was asking for the information” In this case, the applicant as a citizen submitted RTI Application and merely used the address of an NGO for communication.   In the case of J.C. Talukdar Vs. C.E.(E) CPWD Kolkata (CIC/WB/C/2007/ 00104 & 105 dated 30/3/2007), the Applicant Shri. Talukdar, requested for certain information from CPWD, Kolkata, in his capacity as Managing Director of one Ganesh Electric Stores. This application was made in his name and under his signature. The said request was refused under Section 3 of the RTI Act. Consequently Shri. Talukdar filed an appeal before CIC. In this case, the CIC held that –   This is at heart a question of whether a Company or its Director will fall under the definition of citizen under the RTI Act 2005. A company or a Corporation is a “legal person” and, as such, it has a legal entity. This legal entity is distinct from their shareholders, Managers or Managing Directors. This is a settled position in law since the Solomon’s case decided long back by the House of Lords. They have rights and obligations and can sued and are sued in a Court of Law. Section 3 of the RTI Act 2005 confers “Right to Information” on all “CITIZENS”. A “Citizen” under the Constitution Part II that deals with “citizenship” can only be a natural born person and it does not even by implication include a legal or a juristic person Section 2(f) of the Citizenship Act defines a person as under:   “Person” does not include a company, an association or a Body of individuals whether incorporated or not.”   The objective of the Right to Information Act is to secure access to information to all citizens or order to promote transparency and accountability. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in Bennett Coleman & Co. and Ors Vs. Union of India (decided in the year 1973) held that a shareholder is entitled to protection of Article 19 and that an individual’s right is not lost by reason of the fact that he is a shareholder of the company. The Bank Nationalization case has also established the view that the fundamental rights of shareholders as citizens are not lost when they associate to form a company. In Delhi Cloth and General Mills Co. Ltd (decided on 21/7/1983), the Apex Court observed that the judicial trend is in the direction of holding that in the matter of fundamental freedoms guaranteed by Article 19, the right of shareholder and the company which the shareholders have formed are rather co-extensive and the denial to one of the fundamental freedoms would be denial to the other.   Even though, therefore the companies and Corporations have not been held to be a citizen, there are number of cases where the Apex Court has granted relief to petitioner companies. One of the case, which can be cited as an example is the Express Newspaper case. But in such cases, the petitioners have claimed fundamental rights as shareholders or editors of the Newspapers companies. The same was the situation in Sakal Papers Pvt. Ltd. Case.   A question may arise as to whether the case of a Firm is different from that of a company? In this regard following observations of Chagla, C.J. in Iron and Hardware (India) Co. Vs. Firm Sham Lal and Brothers (AIR 1954 Bom 423) are pertinent:   “In my opinion it is clear that there is no such legal entity as a firm. A firm is merely a compendious way of describing certain number of persons who carry o business as partners in a particular name, but in law and in the eye of the law the firm really consists of the individual partners who go to constitute that firm. Therefore, the persons before the tribunal are the individual partners of the firm and not a legal entity consisting of the firm.” Even if it were conceded that a company or a corporate body is a legal entity distinct from its shareholders and it is not in itself a citizen, it is a fact that all superior courts have been admitting applications in exercise of their extraordinary jurisdiction from Companies, Societies and Associations under Article 19 of the Constitution of which the Right to Information Act, 2005 is child. Very few petitions have been rejected on the ground that the applicants / petitioners are corporate bodies or Companies or Associations and, as such, not “citizens’. This Commission also has been receiving sizeable number of such applications from such entitles. If the Courts could give relief to such entities, the PIOs also should not throw them out on a mere technical ground that the applicant / appellant happens to be a legal person and not a citizen.   In conclusion we direct that an application / appeal from an Association or a Partnership Firm or a Hindu Undivided Family or from some other group of individuals constituted as a body or otherwise should be accepted and allowed. The CPIO, CPWD, Kolkata will dispose of the present application of Shri Talukdar accordingly, as mandated by Sections 6 and 7 of the RTI Act, 2005. In the case of Secretary, Cuttack Tax Bar Association Vs. Commissioner of Income Tax (CIC/AT/A/2007/00410 decided on 03/03/2008), the Full Bench of CIC held that –   27. In the present case, the appellants have come as a distinct legal entity. From the records it appears that the application under the Right to Information Act was submitted on 6 th September, 2006 in the name of the Association. The application was signed by the Secretary, Shri Gopinath Padhi whose name as an individual can be ascertained only from the Letter Head of the Association and his signature per-se does not signify identity of the signatory. The first appeal has also been filed, not in the name of any individual citizen, but by the Secretary, Cuttack Bar Association and it has been signed by Shri Natbar Panda who seems to have subsequently taken over as Secretary of the Association. Similarly, the 2 nd appeal before this Commission has not been filed in the name of any individual citizen but by the Secretary of the Cuttack Bar Association and it has been signed by Shri Natbar Panda as Secretary for and on behalf of the Association. From this, it is clear that the signatories to the application and the appeal under the RTI Act are two distinct individuals. It, therefore, leaves no doubt that it is the Association which is the applicant and the appellant as a distinct legal entity and the Association or its Secretary in its official designation cannot be treated as “citizen” in the law.   28. The appeal petition, therefore, stands dismissed. The party will, however, still have the liberty to make a de novo application but in such cases, it must be an application of one or some of its members, in their capacity as citizens. In the case of Kuljit Singh Vs. Power Finance Corporation Ltd (CIC/AD/A/2012/000570 etc 20/5/2013), the issue whether appellant Kuljit Singh is entitled to seek information on behalf of Ernst & Young ( an incorporated company ) has come up before the Full Bench of Central Information Commission, in which the Commission held that –   50. It has been vehemently contended by the counsel for Respondent that appellant is not entitled to seek information on behalf of Ernst & Young. It is his contention that Board of Directors of Ernst & Young has no authority to authorize the appellant to seek information under Section-3 of the RTI Act. Information can be sought only by a citizen of India under Section-3. It cannot be sought by a legal entity such as Ernest & Young. He, therefore, pleads that all the appeals must be dismissed off-hand on this ground alone.   51. The counsel for appellant vehemently challenges this contention. According to him, officers and representatives of the company have a right to seek information for the company. He has relied on this Commission’s decision dated 30.3.2007 in Complaint no. CIC/WB/C/2007/00104 & 105 (Talukdar Vs CPWD), wherein it was held that if the courts could give relief to the companies, societies and associations, PIOs should not throw out the request for information on the mere technical ground that applicant/appellant happens to be a legal person and not a natural person.   52. We are not inclined to accept the submission made by the counsel for the Respondent. It is true that appellant has sought the impugned information on behalf of M/s Ernst & Young and has regularly appeared before the Commission to canvass his case. The fact, however, remains that appellant is a citizen of India and this proposition has not been challenged on behalf of PFCL. Even if the appellant is seeking this information on behalf of M/s Ernst & Young, he is doing so as a citizen of India u/s 3 of the Act. The Commission, therefore, is not inclined to take a hyper-technical view in the matter. In view of the precedent cited by the counsel for the appellant adverted to herein above and also by taking a pragmatic view in the matter, we hold that the appellant is well within his rights u/s 3 to seek the impugned information. Following conclusions can be drawn:   ‘Person’ defined in Section 3(42) of the General Clauses Act, 1897, include natural person and juristic person.
Every citizen is a person, but the vice versa is not true. Artificial or juristic person cannot be a citizen.
Juristic person cannot enforce fundamental rights, but the individual citizens forming such legal entity / juristic persons can invoke the fundamental rights.
Right to Information Act confers right not to all persons, but only on Citizens.
Thus two distinct positions emerged from the above –   When an RTI Application is made by a shareholder or a Managing Director or Director or Official of a company or any legal entity, under his name and signature, (even when using the company/association Letter Head), his status as a citizen does not cease to exist and therefore the RTI application is maintainable.
When an RTI Application is made and signed by its Managing Director or Director or Secretary under official designation, without indicating the name of person, it is the Company or Association which is the applicant. As a distinct legal entity, the Association or its Secretary in its official designation cannot be treated as “citizen” in law and therefore the RTI application is not maintainable.
  ***

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COMPETENT AUTHORITY WITH RESPECT TO SECTION-8(1)(d) & (e) OF RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT, 2005

DOWN LOAD : [ATTACH]10002[/ATTACH] Section-8(1)(d) provides that there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; Section-8(1)(e) provides that there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.   As per definition contained in Section-2(e) of the Act, “competent authority” means: –     the Speaker in the case of the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of a State or a Union territory having such Assembly and the Chairman in the case of the Council of States or Legislative Council of a State;
the Chief Justice of India in the case of the Supreme Court;
the Chief Justice of the High Court in the case of a High Court;
the President or the Governor, as the case may be, in the case of other authorities established or constituted by or under the Constitution;
the administrator appointed under article 239 of the Constitution;
  Hon’ble Delhi High Court, while passing judgment on a bunch of appeals filed against CIC order, rejected the plea of the Centre, which had contended that information held in fiduciary relationship does not fall within the ambit of transparency law. Under Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act, the competent authority is entitled to examine the question whether in view of the larger public interest, information protected under the sub-clause should be disclosed. The competent authority can direct disclosure of information, if it comes to the conclusion that larger public interest warrants disclosure.   The question whether a particular information falling under the purview of Section-8(1)(d) or 8(1)(e) warrants disclosure in larger public interest, is subject to satisfaction of the Competent Authority. From the definition of ‘competent authority’, as it appears in Section-2(e) of the Act, it is clear that CPIO/SPIO or FAAs or Public Authority or even Central Information Commission or State Information Commission are not ‘Competent Authority’. Therefore, they are not empowered to take decision whether larger public interest warrants disclosure of the types of information mentioned under Section-8(1)(d) and (e) of the Act. Such decision must necessarily be taken by those authorities mentioned in Section-2(e) of the Act. Therefore, for Public Authorities under Central Government, State Government, and U/Ts the decision shall be taken by the President of India, the Governors, Administrators / Lt Governors respectively.   Position of the President and that of the Governor are just titular in nature and the real power is actually exercised by Council of Ministers. Whenever the Constitution requires the satisfaction of President or Governor for the exercise by President or Governor of any power or function, the satisfaction required by the Constitution is not personal satisfaction of President or Governor. Satisfaction of President or Governor in Constitutional sense in a Cabinet system of Government, is satisfaction of his Council of Ministers on whose aid and advice the President or Governor exercises all his powers and functions. Thus, this decision has to be made by the ministry concerned.   On the other hand, Section-8(1)(j) provides that there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, the information which relates to personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual, unless Public Information Officer or FAA is satisfied that larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.   The legislative intent thus clearly amplify delegating power to Competent Authority under Clauses (d) and (e), and to PIO or FAA in respect of Clause-(j). The framers of the Act well distinguished the delegation of power under Clauses (d) and (e) with that of (j). Therefore CPIO/SPIO, FAA or IC cannot exercise the power under Section-8(1)(d) or 8(1)(e) to disclose the exempted information in larger public interest. This being the position, when an information is denied by CPIO and FAA, in subordinate / attached offices claiming exemption under Clause(d) or (e) of Sub-section-1 of Section-8 of RTI Act, the applicant can approach the Competent Authority, giving full details of larger public interest, which warrant disclosure of the exempted information.   DISCUSSION THREAD:

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What is third party information?

THIRD PARTY INFORMATION   The PIO cannot simply deny disclosure of information under the plea of THIRD PARTY. There are certain principles under which PIO can invoke the provisions of Section-11, viz -   (1) PIO indents to disclose any information or part thereof;   (2) which (information) relates to or has been supplied by a third party;   (3) which (information) has been treated as CONFIDENTIAL by that third party; (at the time of submission - and not when an RTI Application is received and a notice issued to third party)   (4) PIO must within 5 days serve a written notice to the third party indicating therein   PIO indents to disclose the information or record or part thereof; [ii] invite third party to make a submission in writing or orally whether the information should be disclosed;   (5) Such submission of THIRD PARTY shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information.   (6) Except in case of Trade or Commercial secrets protected by law, disclosure may be allowed if public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interest of such third party   (7) The PIO has to record reasons of his decision within 40 days after receipt u/s 6   (8) The PIO has to give a copy of his notice of decision to the Third Party.   Consequently, RTI Applicant is entitled for a copy of decision so recorded by PIO being affected person. Needless to mention, PIO is duty bound to record decision on each and every aspect mentioned above - say whether it is confidential, whether it is trade secret protected by law (which law?), whether disclosure may be in public interest, whether the disclosure harm or cause injury to third party etc. Unless these steps are followed, the decision of PIO shall merely be a denial without reasons. PIO cannot merely deny information quoting Sec.11   Section-11 is only a procedure and an enabling provision. PIO cannot deny information to an applicant by invoking proviions of Section-11. The PIO cannot also deny information either treating it as 'personal' or 'third party'.   The PIO can deny an information only if it is exempted under Sec-8 or 9 of RTI Act, else the PIO is required to supply information held by the Public Authority or under the control of that public authority. Even when Section-11 procedure is invoked, the reason for denial must be found in Section-8 or 9 only. Mere quoting of Sectin-11, Section-8 and/or 9 is not enough for such denial. PIO must record reasons as to how the piece of 'information' or 'document' sought by Applicant is falling under the purview of Sec-8 or 9 and qualify for exemption.   Any information including personal information submitted by a person / party in compliance of a statutory requirement and/or which has been relied upon by public authority for making decision, invariably become a part of public document and hence in public domain unless it is expressly barred by provisions of Sec-8 and 9, eg trade secret etc.   Also please read: http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/attachments/rti-general-discussions/10475d1392738505-third-party-information-3rd-party-does-not-have-veto-sg   Public Authority staff cannot call themselves as third party

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RTI for EPF inquiry

RTI FOR EPF ACCOUNT BALANCE  A large number of information seekers approach RTI India Forum seeking help in filing RTI Application regarding the missing credit of EPF, lost transit case of EPF during transfer etc. RTI can be effectively used to obtain information in such cases as mentioned below: The following documents / information can be sought from the PIO. The employee himself can file RTI Application before the PIO of Employees Provident Fund Organization under whose jurisdiction the Employer Company falls. An RTI Application filed by any other person other than the employee himself will be rejected under Sec-8(1)(e). Therefore RTI Application must be filed by the Employee only. You can attach Employee ID Card as proof. Modify above item [1] & [3] suitably by removing bracketed portion given for your guidance. Opt form type Form-3A and Form-6A for Unexempted Establishments and Form-F7(PS) and Form-F8(PS) for Exempted Establishments. Application Fee is Rs.10/- payable by IPO or DD in favour of Accounts Officer, EPFO, …….. Also please read this link to file RTI APPLICATION for EPF transfer details : http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/blogs/raveena_o/2276-missing-epf-details.html RELEVANCE OF ABOVE INFORMATION  The employer company has to file an Annual Return to the EPFO in Form 3A. Form-3A is Employee's Annual Contribution Card - showing monthwise recoveries towards EPF and Pension Fund in respect of a Member (employee) for one financial year. Form 3A shall have to be filed by the employer company with EPFO on or before 30th April of every year covering all employees subscribed to EPF till 31st March. It is nothing but like a copy of the Leger Account duly signed by authorized signatory of the Company. In case of Exempted Establishments, Form F7(PS) is required to be submitted by employer (for pension contribution only) instead of Form 3A. Similarly, Form-6 is required to be filed by the Employer Company to EPFO once in a year by 30th April,. Form No.6 is the Consolidated annual contribution statement : This form provides annual contributions of each member of the establishment. A vital form for compiling the annual Provident Fund statement of a subscriber. For Exempted establishments, Form F8(PS) is submitted. Form No.23 is the Annual PF slip issued by Regional Provident Fund Commissioner’s office, which outlines complete PF balance of an Employee as in end of Feb of the year, Including interest earned, refund of withdrawal during the year, withdrawal during the year and PF transfers received if any, Net balalnce in PF account.      

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Missing epf details

RTI APPLICATION FOR MISSING/TRANSFERRED EPF ACCOUNT   A large number of information seekers approach RTI India Forum for help in filing RTI Application regarding the missing credit of EPF & lost transit case of EPF transfer etc.   RTI can be effectively used to get exact information about transfer as well as amount transferred as detailed below   The following documents / information can be sought from the PIO. An RTI Application filed by any person other than the employee himself will be rejected under Sec-8(1)(e). Therefore RTI Application must be filed by the Employee only. You can attach Employee ID Card as proof.   [1] certified copy of EPF return Form-3A(Revised)/ [Form-F7(PS) for exempted Establishments] filed by M/s ............................. (previous company) during the year ................, .......... & 2007 (one or two years earlier starting from the year of leaving)showing month-wise contribution towards EPF and Pension Fund in my PF Account No. .................. Name ………..(your name) . (Form-3A is yearly statement to be filled by company before 30th Apr of every year)   [2] Certified copy of EPF transfer Form-13 (Revised) submitted by the undersigned with M/s ...... ( present company) to transfer my PF account no. .............. from EPFO …………. to M/s ...................... (PRESENT company) EPFO ............................ along with information filled in by M/s ………………… (PRESENT employer) in Form-13(Rev) and Orders of Provident Fund Commissioner.   [3] Certified copy of Transfer Intimation i.e Annexure-K [Revised] in respect of my EPF Account no. .............. based on my application on Form-13 submitted to M/s .................. (present employer) on ............. (put the date of submission, if you know, else don’t mention date).   [4] Certified copy of Form No.10 submitted by M/s ...........(previous employer company) in the month of ...................and ........ ( the month and next month of your leaving employment from previous company.)   Modify above item (1) to (4) by removing bracketed portion given for your guidance. Other forms can also be sought depending upon circumstances mentioned under caption Relevance of Information below.   NOTE: In case ...... [1] transfer request not submitted or [2] transfer request in Form-13(A) not submitted or [3] transfer request not submitted to the present employer, you must first do so, instead of filing RTI Application before the EPFO.   Click here to download forms:   (1) [ATTACH]5248[/ATTACH] (2) [ATTACH]5452[/ATTACH] (3) [ATTACH]5453[/ATTACH] (4) [ATTACH]5454[/ATTACH]   In order to ascertain whether the account and amount is still with particular EPFO (or not transferred), RTI Application for item(1) above can be filed seeking information for current year.   RELEVANCE OF ABOVE INFORMATION When the Employees’ Provident Fund account is transferred from one Employer Company (previous employer) to another Employer Company (present employer) of same EPFO jurisdiction or different EPFO jurisdiction, the employee is required to fill up EPF Form no.13(Rev) [Revised] which include EPF details and submit it to the Present employer company. The present employer company fill in certain details like Account No, Regional Office, Sub Regional Office, Exempted and trust details (if applicable) and forward Form-13(Rev) to the Commissioner EPF. The EPFC shall pass an order and transfer the amount by DD /Cheque to the (1) Regional Provident Fund Commissioner of the present employer area OR (2) if it is an exempted establishment (these are establishments which maintain its own PF through a PF Trust) EPF is transferred to the Trust as per Payee's details filled in by the Present Employer in Form-13(Rev).   The transfer is authorized by EPF Commissioner under a prescribed format – ANNEXURE-K (Revised). This format contains details of amount transferred, DD/Cheque no. and date, new Ledger Card No. of employee in present New employer company and old transferred ledger number of previous employer company. A copy of ANNEXURE-K (Revised) is marked to the Employee, whose account is transferred. The EPFO also transfer the Family Pension contribution to the respective EPFO or Trust.   The employer is required to file Form-9 - Return of employees who are entitled and required to become members of the Employees' Provident Fund and Pension Fund. (Within 15 Days of coverage) as per The Employees' Provident Funds Scheme , 1952 [para 36(1)] and the Employees' Pension Scheme 1995[para 20] . Form-9 shall be accompanied by Form-2 given by PF Members and utilised for releasing PF dues to the nominees. It also contains the details of the family members.   Similarly, the employer company is required to file monthly return of EPF covered Employee left service from that company in Form-10 in terms of para 36 (2)(a) & (b) of the Employees' Provident Funds Scheme, 1952.   Declaration by a person taking up employment in an establishment in which the Employees' Provident Funds & Family Pension Fund Scheme is in force shall be submitted in Form-11   The employee himself can file RTI Application before the CPIO of Employees Provident Fund Organization from where EPF Account has been transferred. Say, if the EPF account is transferred from Delhi to Haryana, the first step is to file RTI Application with CPIO of Delhi RPFO and after getting details of Annexure-K, further RTI Application can be filed before CPIO of RPFO Haryana. Application fee of Rs.10/- can be paid by IPO payable to Accounts Officer, EPFO, …….. Delhi etc.     ALSO PLEASE READ THIS LINK FOR EPF BALANCE ENQUIRY : http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/blogs/raveena_o/2279-rti-epf-inquiry.html

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How to seek evaluated answer sheet

HOW TO SEEK EVALUATED ANSWER SHEETS   First file an RTI Application with prescribed application FEE and request for --   [1] certified copies of my answer-sheets in …………………………… (subjects) of ………………………examination (say B.Sc 2nd year) held in ………........(summer/winter) 2012, Roll No. …………….. , Name of Candidate .............................., Exam Center ..................... and other details such as subject code, center code etc (as available in Hall Ticket. You can also attach the xerox copy of Hall Ticket. RTI Application is to be addressed to the Public Information Officer (PIO) in the office of Registrar of University. The application shall be submitted by Speed Post and speed post delivery is tracked through India Post website SPEED POST TRACKING and a printout be kept on record.   PIO has to give a decision within 30 days from receipt your application. PIO shall inform you of additional fee i.e. document charges for supplying answer sheet. Additional fee has to be deposited immediately or by about 15 days time from receipt of such intimation from PIO. On remitting additional fee, PIO will send certified copies of answer-sheets to you.   Your right is limited to inspect or seek copies of your own answer sheet and you cannot seek answer-sheets of other candidates. Endorsement, signature or anything that disclose the identity of the evaluator appearing on Answer-sheet will not be disclosed.   You can also seek inspection of your Answer sheets. For this, you may mention in your RTI Application itself, that you would like to inspect your answer sheets and take the copy of answer-sheet identified by you upon inspection. For inspection, you have to attend the office of Registrar or Controller of Examinations of the University or record office were evaluated answer sheets are stored. For Inspection, there is no fee for the first one hour. After inspection, if you desire, you can seek the copy of your answer paper by paying prescribed document charges, which is normally Rs.2/- per A4 size paper. Please remember the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of CBSE & Anr Vs Aditya Bandhopadhaya & Ors (Civil Appeal no. 6454 of 2011 arising out of SLP© No. 7526 of 2009) decided on 9/8/2011 has held that evaluated answer sheets of Universities, State Education Boards, Competitive Examinations, Recruitment Test, and Selection Tests etc are “information” within the meaning of RTI Act and therefore required to be disclosed under Right to Information Act. The PIOs are therefore under obligation to supply copy of evaluated answer sheets to the examinees. CIC in the case of M.K. Sharma Vs CBSE held that the rules framed under the RTI Act fixing Fee cannot override the Statutory Rules framed by the Department prescribing Fee for the dissemination of information. CIC in this decision followed the decision of Hon'ble Delhi High Court in the case of Registrar of Companies Vs Dharmendra Kumar Garg decided on 1.6.12   Therefore for obtaining Information on Evaluated Answer Books, if there is a Departmental Route i.e. Rules framed by State Education Boards, CBSE or University, the applicant has to follow that route instead of invoking the provisions of RTI.   Read this Decision of CIC : [ATTACH]9850[/ATTACH] This view was in conformity with the decision of Delhi High Court in the case of Registrar of Companies Vs Dharmendra Kumar Garg, in which it was held by Hon'ble Delhi High Court to obtain the information by invoking the prescribed procedure under the Companies Act, 1956.   Hon'ble Delhi High Court in the case of Paras Jain Vs Institute of Company Secretaries of India (LPA no. 275 of 2014) had held that : 5. It is trite that an executive instruction if in violation of a statutory rule or a regulation must yield to the statutory rule or regulation. 6. Thus, the demand by the respondents from the petitioner to pay a fee in the sum of `500/- per subject/ answer book copy whereof is sought is not sustainable.   7. We dispose of appeal quashing guideline No.3 notified by the respondent and declare that for the answer sheets copy whereof is sought by the appellant he shall be charged fees as per Rule 4 of the Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005.   DELHI HIGH COURT JUDGMENT Paras Jain Vs Instt of Company Secretaries   In this case, a fee of Rs.500 per subject was decided through an executive order by Institute of Company Secretaries of India which has no statutory force, hence quashed by HC at the admission stage itself. Otherwise, if there is a departmental procedure prescribed by statutory law, the applicant has to follow that departmental rule.   [ATTACH]10837[/ATTACH]   ALSO READ THIS DISCUSSION THREAD: DISCLOSURE OF EVALUATED UNIVERSITY ANSWER SHEETS https://www.rtiindia.org/forum/51819-disclosure-university-examination-answer-sheets.html   SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT : https://www.rtiindia.org/forum/attachments/rti-general-discussions/4638d1313137119-disclosure-university-examination-answer-sheets-supreme-court-judgment-dt-09-08-11-evaluated-answer-sheet.pdf   ALSO READ WRITE/SUBMIT/SAMPLE RTI Application by https://righttoinformation.wiki/guide/applicant/application/how-fill-rti-application-form   SUBMIT RTI APPLICATION https://righttoinformation.wiki/guide/applicant/second-appeal/complaint

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What after decision by central or state information commissioner

WHAT AFTER DECISION BY CENTRAL/STATE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER There are large number of instances, where the State Information Commissioners are passing orders contrary to the spirit and object of RTI Act and contradicting the laid down procedures. Another issue is the Public Authorities did not comply the decisions of CIC/SIC and the Information Commissions are not strict about enforcing penal provisions under section-20. The Information Seekers feel they were pushed to dead end. There is a common feeling that no appeal lies against decision of State Information Commissioner. Let us examine it.  There is also a general notion that Courts have no jurisdiction to entertain challenges arising out of RTI Act. This is not correct. The bar provided under Sec.23 of the Act is specific to entertaining suit, application or other proceedings by lower courts. There is no bar in approaching Supreme Court under Article-32 and High Courts under Article-226 of the Constitution of India.  Another aspect is the jurisdiction of individual Information Commissioners to pass binding orders. Sec-19(7) of the Act states that decision of Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall be binding. This does not mean that decision is not appelable. The wording of Sec-19(7) denote the decision of the Commission and not the Commissioner. The Commission consists of the Chief Information Commissioner and Central Information Commissioners or State Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioners. The decision of the Central Information Commissioner or State Information Commissioner, as the case may be, cannot be said to be the decision of the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission. The constitution of the Central Information Commission and State Information Commission are defined u/s 12(2) and 15(2) respectively.  Section-19(9) provides that Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall give notice of its decision, including any right of appeal, to the complainant and public authority. Thus, the legislative intent is amply clear that a right to appeal accrue in favour of Applicant and Public Authority against the decision of Central Information Commissioner / State Information Commissioner. It is pertinent to note that under section-15(4), the general superintendence, direction and management of the affairs of the SIC shall vest in the State Chief Information Commissioner.....etc.  In this view this, if the order of the Central Information Commissioner / State Information Commissioner is patently illegal and not in conformity with the provisions of the Act, an appeal can be filed before the Central Information Commissioner / State Chief Information Commissioner for consideration and adjudication by the Central Information Commission / State Information Commission.  Section-19(8)(b) provides that the CIC or SIC has powers to require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered. Consumer courts can also be moved to seek compensation.  In addition, the Appellant can also file Complaint under Section-18 before the Commission with specific prayers. Delhi High Court vide decision dt: 28/10/13, distinguished Sec-18 and 19(3) and held that - it is expected that the Commission (CIC) henceforth will decide the complaints on merits instead of directing the CPIO to provide the information which the complainant had sought (see copy of judgment attached below) After disposal of Appeal u/s 19(3) and/or Complaint under sec-18(1) of the Act, the applicant can challenge the orders of the Information Commission by filing writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Also read: Appeal -vs- Complaint

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Rti time schedule

Large number of queries in Ask RTI Query form are about Time Schedule for various aspects as to when the PIO is supposed to supply information, when to file First Appeal, second appeal etc. In order to give a clear picture of Time Schedule at various stages of RTI dealings, both by Public Authority as well as Information Seekers, a tabulated Time Schedule is attached.   Download copy of time schedule: [ATTACH]4473[/ATTACH]

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Rti time scheule

RTI TIME SCHEDULE   Large number of queries in "Ask RTI Query" forum are about Time Schedule for various aspects as to when the PIO is supposed to supply information, when to file First Appeal, second appeal etc. In order to give a clear picture of Time Schedule at various stages of RTI dealings, both by Public Authority as well as Information Seekers, a tabulated Time Schedule is attached.   [TABLE=class: grid, width: 650] [TR] [TD]Ref[/TD] [TD]Activity[/TD] [TD]Section[/TD] [TD]Time Limit in days[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]1[/TD] [TD]RTI Application by Applicant[/TD] [TD]Sec-6(1)[/TD] [TD]Date of receipt by PIO = 'D'[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]2[/TD] [TD]Decision of PIO on RTI Application[/TD] [TD]Sec-7(1)[/TD] [TD]D+30[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]3[/TD] [TD]Forwarding of RTI Application to PIO by APIO[/TD] [TD]Sec-5(2)+ 5(2) proviso[/TD] [TD]D+5[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]4[/TD] [TD]Transferring RTI Application to another Public Authority[/TD] [TD]6(3)+Proviso[/TD] [TD]D+5[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]5[/TD] [TD]Decision by PIO in Ref.3[/TD] [TD]Sec-5(2)+ 7(1)[/TD] [TD]D+30+5 = 35[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]6[/TD] [TD]Decision by PIO in Ref.4[/TD] [TD]Sec-6(3)+ 7(1)[/TD] [TD]D+30+5 = 35[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]7[/TD] [TD]Decision by PIO on Applications concerning Life or Liberty.[/TD] [TD]Sec-7(1) proviso[/TD] [TD]D+48 hrs[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]8[/TD] [TD]Deemed refusal by PIO[/TD] [TD]Sec-7(2)[/TD] [TD]Beyond D+30 or 35 days or 48 hrs (Ref 5, 6, 7)[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]9[/TD] [TD]Physical supply of information on remitting document charges (period between dispatch of PIO's decision and receipt of document charges/fee to be excluded to calculate time limit.[/TD] [TD]Sec-7(3)(a)[/TD] [TD]D+30 or D+35 days or D+48 hrs (Dates from Date of dispatch of intimation to date of remittance of Fee to be excluded (Ref 5,6,7).[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]10[/TD] [TD]Applicant entitled to information FREE of Charges/Fee if information is not provided within time limit mentioned at Ref 5,6,7.[/TD] [TD]Sec-7(6)[/TD] [TD]Within 30 or 35 days or 48 hours as calculated under Ref-9.[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]11[/TD] [TD]Notice to third party.[/TD] [TD]Sec-11(1)[/TD] [TD]D+5[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]12[/TD] [TD]Notice period available to Third Party to submit response.[/TD] [TD]Sec-11(2)[/TD] [TD]10 days from receipt of Notice i.e. (D+5)+10[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]13[/TD] [TD]Decision notice by PIO in Third Party information cases.[/TD] [TD]Sec-11(3)[/TD] [TD]D+40[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]14[/TD] [TD]Supply of information in Third Party cases.[/TD] [TD]Sec-7(3)(a)[/TD] [TD]D+40 as in Ref-9[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]15[/TD] [TD]First Appeal by Applicant[/TD] [TD]Sec-19(1)[/TD] [TD]D+60 or 30 days from PIO's decision ie Ref.13[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]16[/TD] [TD]First Appeal by Third Party[/TD] [TD]Sec-19(2)[/TD] [TD]30 days from PIO's decision ie Ref 13.[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]17[/TD] [TD]Decision by Departmental first Appellate Authority (FAA)[/TD] [TD]Sec-19(6)[/TD] [TD]30 days from receipt of appeal (or 45 days for reasons to be recorded) ie Ref 15 & 16.[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]18[/TD] [TD]Second Appeal before CIC or SIC[/TD] [TD]Sec-19(3)[/TD] [TD]90 days from decision of FAA[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]19[/TD] [TD]Supply of information relating to human right violations or allegations of corruption with respect to security organizations of Union Government included in SECOND SCHEDULE, with approval of CIC.[/TD] [TD]Sec-24(1) Second Proviso[/TD] [TD]D+45 ie 45 days from date of receipt of application by PIO.[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]20[/TD] [TD]Supply of information relating to human right violations or allegations of corruption with respect to security organizations of State Governments included in SECOND SCHEDULE, with approval of SIC[/TD] [TD]Sec-24(4) Second Proviso[/TD] [TD]D+45 ie 45 days from date of receipt of application by SPIO.[/TD] [/TR] [/TABLE]     You can DOWN LOAD copy of "RTI Time Schedule" from the link below:

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Is it Mandatory to appear for Hearing by First Appellate Authority?

There is not even a whisper about hearing by FAA in RTI Act, 2005. There is also no provision under the Act to prescribe procedures with regard to the manner in which FAA has to conduct and decide first appeal.   If at all there is a hearing fixed by FAA, then FAA must give Appellant a copy of submission made by PIO before FAA against First Appeal. Hearing warrants only where there is a dispute e.g the PIO contents that he has supplied information as against Applicant's contention that no information is supplied. Then again the onus to prove that he supplied information lies with PIO only.   Look from a different angle - Rule 19(5) provides that the onus to prove, that denial of a request was justified, shall be on the PIO who denied the request. Therefore, the FAA has to hear only the PIO and give his decision whether PIO has acted within the framework of RTI Act or not. The only power available to the FAA is to give direction to his own PIO who is lower in hierarchy or to reject First Appeal within 30/45 days.   It is also pertinent to note that no specific powers have been vested with FAA other than that the First Appeal shall be disposed off within 30/45 days, whereas CIC has powers to enforce statutory compliance under Sec-18 & Sec-19(8). Specific provisions under Sec-18 as well as procedure under Sec-19(10) read with Sec-27(2)(e) to decide complaint or 2nd Appeal are also required to be complied with by CIC. However, proceedings before FAA is not governed by any prescribed procedure as that of CIC.   CIC in its decision dated 30/10/2014 (copy attached) suggested that the FAA should, as far as possible 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.   Many FAA's are simply rejecting first appeal solely on the ground that Appellant failed to appear before FAA and failed to submit his say, instead of examining the conduct and decision of his own PIO in not supplying information. FAAs are granting hearing only to harass Appellants by calling them to a distant place so as to make them waste/spend considerable time and money.   In view of this, if an Appellant is not appearing for hearing before FAA, then the Appellant must immediately advise FAA that there is no statutory and mandatory provision for such hearing under RTI Act and hence Appellant has no intention to appear for hearing and the appeal be decided based on submissions made in first appeal.   In addition to above, in order to dissuade Appellate Authority to feign ex-parte decision and to strengthen his stand for Second Appeal [under Section-19(3) before the Information Commission] an Appellant may also file a fresh RTI Application before the same PIO and seek --   [1] certified copy of Rules framed by Appropriate Government under section-27 of RTI Act,2005, whereby an Appellant under section - 19(1) needs to be called for hearing or heard personally by Appellate Authority for deciding the Appeal under section 19(1) of RTI Act, 2005.   [2] certified copy of Rules framed by Competent Authority under section-28 of RTI Act,2005, whereby an Appellant under section - 19(1) needs to be called for hearing or heard personally by Appellate Authority for deciding the Appeal under section 19(1) of RTI Act, 2005. [3] Certified copy of Rules framed under Section-27 and/or 28 of RTI Act, 2005, based on which Sh. ........................ (name and address) had been called for hearing by Appellate Authority in Appeal dated ............... preferred by him against PIO's order no. ............... dt..............   [4] Certified copy of the say/remarks submitted or submissions made by PIO before First Appellate Authority in compliance of Section-19(5) of RTI Act, 2005, with respect to First Appeal dated ................arising out RTI Application dated ...................... preferred by Sh. ........... (name and address)     CIC decision dt 10-6-14 : Ashok Kumar Vs GNCTD     Also read: Presence of RTI Applicant not essential while hearing appeal- Rules CIC  

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know your pf balance

KNOW EPF BALANCE, CLAIM STATUS, ESTABLISHMENT CODE For other details, following link can be tried: http://www.epfindia.nic.in/ PIOs & FAAs of EPFO : http://www.epfindia.nic.in/rti_officers.html HOW TO FILE RTI FOR EPF BALANCE http://www.rtiindia.org/blogs/entry/2279-rti-epf-inquiry.html HOW TO FILE RTI FOR EPF TRANSFER / MISSING http://www.rtiindia.org/blogs/entry/2276-missing-epf-details.html

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Can the pio deny information disclosed under section-4(1) of the act?

INFORMATION DISSEMINATED TO PUBLIC OR ACCESSIBLE TO CITIZENS UNDER SEC-4(1) & OTHER STATUTORY PROVISIONS ARE NOT INFORMATION ACCESSIBLE UNDER RTI ACT
INFORMATION “HELD BY OR UNDER THE CONTROL OF PUBLIC AUTHORITY” – INTERPRETED BY HON'BLE DELHI HIGH COURT
  The right of the citizen under the RTI Act is to obtain information ‘held by or under the control of any public authority’ i.e. information, which is held by the public authority under its control to the exclusion of others. It cannot mean ‘information’ which the public authority has already disseminated and shared generally with citizens, and also that information, in respect of which there is a statutory mechanism evolved (independent of the RTI Act) which obliges the Public Authority to share the same with the citizenry by following the prescribed procedure, and upon fulfillment of the prescribed conditions. This is so, because in respect of such information, which the public authority is statutorily obliged to disseminate, it cannot be said that the public authority holds or controls the same. There is no exclusivity in such holding or control. In fact, the control vests in the seeker of the information, who has only to operate the statutorily prescribed mechanism to access the information. It is not this kind of information, which appears to fall within the meaning of the expression “right to information”, as the information in relation to which the ‘right to information’ is specifically conferred by the RTI Act is that information which “is held by or under the control of any public authority".   Information already disseminated under Sec-4 of the RTI Act, thus, do not fall within the ambit of Sec-2(j), i.e. ‘held by or under the control of any public authority’. Departmental procedure contained in other statutes for dissemination (inspection / copy ) of information as that of Sec-610 of Companies Act fall within the scope and ambit of Sec-4(xv). Right under the RTI Act can be exercised only in respect of information HELD BY or UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE PUBLIC AUTHORITY. Information disseminated to public, either free or on prescribed fee, are also not information accessible within the meaning of Section-2(j).   Also read:   RIGHT TO INFORMATION - NEW DIMENSIONS AND INTERPRETATIONS.pdf

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HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE A COMPLAINT UNDER SECTION-18(1) and SECOND APPEAL UNDER SECTION-19(3)?

DOWNLOAD CONTENTS OF THIS PAGE AS : [ATTACH]9957[/ATTACH]   HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE A COMPLAINT UNDER SECTION-18 and SECOND APPEAL UNDER SECTION-19(3)?   Often queries are raised before this forum about Complaint under Sec-18 and Second Appeal under Sec-19(3). There are two distinct legislative intent behind both these sections.   Section-18 is a provision bestowing an Original Jurisdiction on CIC or SIC to receive complaints and to ensure proper enforcement and implementation of the provisions of the Act. It is supervisory in nature, WHEREAS the provision under Section-19 is an Appellate jurisdiction arising only out of an Appeal preferred before First Appellate Authority, which is decided or not decided within prescribed time limit. In both Section-18 & 19, CIC or SIC has powers to impose penalty or recommend disciplinary action against CPIO/SPIO. Conspicuously absent in these sections is a provision to impose penalty on FAA or higher officers of the Public Authority for non-compliance of the provisions of the Act. In appeal under Sec.19(3), it is mandatory for CIC or SIC to give a notice of its decision, whereas such a decision notice is expressly not mandatory in a Complaint under Section-18, though CIC/SIC may act on the complaint.   Sec-18 can be invoked in cases where – CPIO/SPIO is NOT appointed by the Public Authority,
CPIO/SPIO has refused to accept Application under Sec-6 for information,
CPIO/SPIO has refused to accept Application underSec-19(1), (2) & (3) for forwarding it to CPIO/SPIO, First Appellate Authority, CIC/SIC,
Refused access to any information requested under this Act,
Not responded to the request for information or access to Information within the time limit http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/blogs/raveena_o/1990-rti-time scheule.html
Amount of fee charged is considered unreasonable,
Incomplete, misleading or false information has been supplied.
There is no specified time limit for making COMPLAINT under Section-18 whereas Appeal under Section-19(3) to CIC/SIC has a time limit of 90 days from date of decision of First Appellate Authority or 120 days from the date of submission of first appeal to First Appellate Authority, where no decision of FAA is received.

Under Section-18, CIC or SIC has power to initiate inquiry, if it is satisfied, that there is reasonable grounds to inquire into above mentioned matters. CIC or SIC enjoys the same powers of Civil Court while trying a suit under Code of Civil Procedure 1908 in respect of –   Summoning and enforcing attendance of witnesses, compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath, produce documents or things.
discovery and inspection of documents
receiving evidence on affidavit
requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office
issuing summons for examination of witness or documents or any other matter prescribed.
CIC or SIC, during inquiry of any complaint under Section-18 may examine any record to which RTI Act applies and which is under the control of Public Authority. No such record may be withheld from it on any grounds.   Section-18 does not expressly caste an obligation on CIC or SIC to give a notice of its decision to Complainant or bestow any powers to CIC or SIC to order dissemination of information to the Complainant.   Provision under Section-18 is solely supervisory in nature for implementation of the Act. However, on inquiry, CIC or SIC can impose penalties u/s 20(1) and/or recommend Departmental Action u/s 20(2) after giving reasonable opportunity of hearing.   WHEREAS   Section-19(3) can be invoked when – Where an appeal under Section-19(1) has been preferred before First Appellate Authority, which is decided or not responded within prescribed time limit.
Appeal under Section-19(3) to CIC/SIC has a time limit of 90 days from date of decision of First Appellate Authority or 120 days from the date of submission of first appeal to First Appellate Authority (where no decision of FAA is received) - http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/blogs/raveena_o/1990-rti-time-scheule.html
  Sec-19 empowers CIC or SIC to decide the issue involved in the Appeal preferred by an Appellant and give its binding decision; and make the public authority to enforce compliance of the provisions of Act viz ::   to give access to information (if required in a particular form),
appoint CPIO or SPIO
to publish certain category of information
make changes in its practice of management and destruction of records
enhance provision of training on RTI to its officials
order compensation to the complainant for loss or detriment suffered;
impose any penalty u/s 20 on PIO, FAA & Assisting Official.
Reject the application (appeal)
Give decision notice to Appellant/complainant and Public Authority.
An appeal under this section shall be required to be decided in accordance with the procedure laid down by appropriate Government in terms of Sec.27(2)(e).
CONCLUSION:   In view of the above provisions and SC Judgment dt: 12/12/2011 & Delhi HC judgment dt: 23/10/13, (copies attached below) –   CIC/SIC cannot order supply of information while disposing of complaint under Section-18.
CIC/SIC has to decide the Complaint under Sec-18 on merit.
In order to get information by invoking jurisdiction of CIC/SIC, the appellant has to file Second Appeal under Section-19(3) of the Act before CIC/SIC.
In Appeal under Sec-19(3), Applicant should make specific prayer(s) before CIC/SIC for imposition of penalty [s.20(1)] and/or to recommend for disciplinary action against PIO [s.20(2)] in terms of section-19(8)© and/or for granting compensation under Sec-19(8)(b) of the Act amongst other prayers.
The Applicant can file Complaint under section-18 as well as Appeal under section-19(3) separately in respect of same RTI Application, if there are grounds for both – and the CIC/SIC should decide both on merits.
JUDICIAL DECISIONS:
[*=1]The Hon'ble Allahabad High Court interpreted the provisions of Sec-18 and held that CIC or SIC has power to order supply of information under this section, which is the object and legislative intent of the Act. (See Post#1 of this link: http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/7344-allahabad-high-court-order-clarifying-sec-18-a.html )
[*=1]However, Supreme Court by its decision dt 12/12/2011, held that the CIC/SIC cannot order supply of information while considering Complaint under section-18. (See decision attached below).
[*=1]Delhi High Court vide decision dt: 28/10/13, distinguished Sec-18 and 19(3) and held that - it is expected that the Commission (CIC) henceforth will decide the complaints on merits instead of directing the CPIO to provide the information which the complainant had sought (see copy of judgment attached below)
................................................................................................................... Judgment Copies:   SUPREME COURT ON SEC-18 & 19 (12/12/2011) http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/attachments/rti-general-discussions/5496d1323709282-apex-court-clarification-section-18-section-19-rti-act-supreme-court-clarification-section-18-section-19-rti-act.pdf   DELHI HIGH COURT ON SEC-18 & 19 (23/10/2013) [ATTACH]9952[/ATTACH]   ***  

RAVEENA_O

RAVEENA_O

 

Cji’s office falls under rti act

CJI’S OFFICE FALLS UNDER RTI ACT (As reported by PTI from New Delhi, Sept.1)   In a landmark Judgment, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday held that the Office of Chief Justice of India falls under the purview of the Right to Information Act and the details pertaining to judges’ assets could be revealed under the law.   “The CJI is a Public Authority under the Right to Information Act and the CJI holds the information pertaining to assets declaration in his capacity as Chief Justice. That office is a public authority under the Act and is covered by its provisions”, Justice S. Ravindara Bhatt said.   “Declaration of assets by Supreme Court judges is an information under Section 2(f) of the Right to Information Act. The information pertaining to declaration given to the CJI and the contents of such declaration are information and subject to the provisions of the Right to Information Act,” the court said. The Court upheld the Central Information Commission’s order directing the Supreme Court to reveal information whether judges are declaring their ass4ets to the Chief Justice of India or not. On the issue whether disclosure of information was “unworkable” due to lack of clarity about the details as well as lack of security, the court said CJI can evolve uniform standards and devise relevant formats and periodicity of declaration. “These are not insurmountable obstacles. The CJI, if he deems it appropriate, may in consultation with the Supreme Court judges evolve uniform standards, devising the nature of information, relevant formats and, if required, the periodicity of declaration to be made,” the court said in its 72 page order. Emphasising the importance of the law, Justice Bhatt said the Act is the most important piece of legislation d4rafted after independence era to effectuate democracy. It may be likened to a powerful beacon, which illuminates unlit corners of state activity, and those of public authorities which impact citizens’ daily lives, to which they previously had no access,” the court said. “All power – judicial power being no exception – is held accountable in modern Constitution. Holders of power, too, are expected to live by the standards they set, interpret, or enforce, at least to the extent their office demands,” Justice Bhatt said.

RAVEENA_O

RAVEENA_O

 

E-Tickets : Cancellation & Credit

E-TICKETING OF INDIAN RAILWAYS   There is lot of misunderstanding regarding e-ticketing facility of Indian Railways, leading to frivolous grievances and RTI Applications before the authorities. E-tickets are booked only by using Credit/Debit cards. The tickets are in four pages. Generally, passengers print only one page. Four pages contain all details of ticket including mode of its cancellation. Nobody bother to print and read page-2 to 4 of e-ticket. Wait-listed e-ticket, if not confirmed at the time of preparation of chart, is cancelled automatically and the amount is credited to the same Credit card / Debit Card account from which the e-ticket charges are paid. If any e-ticket is booked through an Agent using agent credit/debit card, the cancellation amount is credited to agent's account. It is a programmed system to get cancellation and credit of amount in same account, so that a person booking an e-ticket from a remote location need not travel to a railway station to cancell his ticket and get refund. Before embarking upon Complaints and RTI Applilcations etc, one should verify his Bank account (transaction pertaining to date of printing chart) to ensure credit of cancellation amount. If the e-ticket is booked through an Agent using Agent's account, the passenger MUST claim refund from Agent.

RAVEENA_O

RAVEENA_O

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