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).