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Prasad GLN

Certified copies from Information Commission

Question

Prasad GLN

CPIO, when appellant has requested for certified copies filed by CPIO denied to provide those copies stating the following Reason

"The documents, the certified copies of which you have sought, have not been originated from the Commission, Thus it is not possible to provide the same.

(The same CPIO has provided certain documents as per FAA orders stating that 1 to 9 were certified and provided, and that was earlier discussed in another thread) Kindly suggest grounds for first appeal.

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MANOJ B. PATEL

If the documents sought are not originated by the Commission how can they provide certified copies?

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Prasad GLN

Because, they have become Public record, as IC has heard. acted upon and disposed Appeal , basing on those documents.

The issue is whether documents submitted by CPIO of another Public Authority in support of providing information to appellant and forms a record in Appeal file becomes CIC record or not ?

Whether CPIO has also to provide attested copies of documents to CIC, or it is only appellant that has to provide self attested documents ?

(Earlier same CPIO has provided some documents as per FAA order stating on one document and enclosing others stating that document 1 to 9 are attested and as second appeal was filed against such CPIO opinion, it may take further two years for hearing that appeal.)

 

Now a specific request asking for those 8 documents in the form of certified copies individually was filed and this is the new invention for denial by same CPIO of CIC.

 

If the information through certified copies can not be given for the reason invented by CPIO (treating CPIO argument as correct for argument sake without admitting) what prevents CIC-CPIO in transferring RTI Application under Sec.6 (3) to that CPIO of another PA ?

 

If it is not record in Appeal file of CIC, whether IC considering those documents while disposing the appeal was proper ?

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Sunil Ahya

As per the provision of section 2(j) of the which RTI Act which defines the term information, the PIO is supposed to provide a certified photocopy of the information (documents) held on the record of the Public Authority.

 

Section 2(j) "right to information" means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to—

(i) inspection of work, documents, records;

(ii) taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records;

(iii) taking certified samples of material;

(iv) obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device;

 

If the PIO is concerned that he is merely providing a certified photocopy of the documents held on the record of the public authority and that in no way certifies the authenticity of the documents - then he should make a file noting clarifying that stance or maybe put another rubber stamp that the information provided merely certifies that the information is so held on the records of the public authority and that as such in no way certifies or guarantees the authenticity of the documents.

 

By the way, Supreme Court of India, while providing a photocopy of documents held by them under its court rules, follows the practise of putting a rubber stamp which says "it is not a certified copy" !!

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RAVEENA_O

An information is required to be supplied only when it is held by the public authority. In this case, if CIC hold such information, an applicant has the right to take a certified copy from the public authority. The PIO cannot abridge such a right of taking certified copy merely feigning that the document is not originated from CIC. There is no such rule that only document originated needs to be certified. PIO cannot deny supplying certified copy for any reasons other than what is mentioned under any of the clauses of Sec-8 or Sec-9, else the information must be supplied as requested.

 

PIO is only supposed to authenticate that the copy supplied is the true copy of the record held by CIC. "Certified copy" doesn't mean that the copy is originated from CIC. If this analogy is to be taken as correct, then only the officers of in office of the President or the Governors can certify various documents originated from Governments. If that is the Rule of Law as understood by CIC, then it has no right and authority to direct other PIOs / FAAs or public authorities to supply certified copies to the applicants. It is very sad state of affair that the very authority constituted under the RTI Act to ensure implementation of the right to information in itself has become the stumbling block in supplying information. It only proves that the CPIO CIC lacks knowledge of RTI Act and its provisions and totally unaware of the object and spirit of RTI Act.

 

In addition to filing first appeal, please file a Complaint under section-18(1) of the Act for malafidely denying the information sought by the complainant.

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Sunil Ahya
malafidely denying the information sought by the complainant.

 

With due respect, I do not think it is a case of malafide denial of information, but it is a question of genuine interpretation in good faith.

 

I think, CIC needs to decide such a case as a matter of precedent and give clear instructions in this regard so that public authorities can make two different types of rubber stamps,

 

> One which is to be put on the documents originating from the public authority itself, and

 

> One which originates from sources other than the PIO's public authority, whereby clearly mentioning in the Rubber Stamp that 'The certified information does not authenticate the information, but merely certifies that it is held 'as is where is' on the records of our Public Authority'

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Prasad GLN

Hon. Suni,

The same CPIO has denied to provide any copy stating one CIC decision , and later as per FAA order he has provided the copies with writing as 1 to 9 copies certified. Against that a second appeal and fresh RTI application was filed with DOPT, seeking any guidelines/directives issued by DOPT in the first decade as to procedure in providing certified copies. DOPT has yet to provide the information. The definition given in Indian Evidence Act was also mentioned in RTI Application filed before DOPT.

I have the same views as stated by Madam Raveena, and I have posted the same reply in Post No.3

 

Here, there should be some uniformity in providing certified copies in tune with Indian Evidence Act, as APHC has specifically pointed that officials of Public Authority has to be examined, when such certified copies provided by PA are to be admitted as evidence.

If CPIO, CIC contention is correct, the PA which submitted those documents also argue in the same manner, stating that they were received from private party and they can not certify the same.

 

The main issue here is CPIO PA submitted that he has collected a Judgment in 1998 and that became an official record for events appearing in their books of accounts as on 1964 of another organisation which is taken by PA in 1976.

PA's records state that he has received judgment in Telugu and stating some thing which never appeared in a judgment. The fact is that so far in AP, judgments were never delivered in Telugu, and copy of original judgment in English was also provided to PA for clarification. Now when that specific judgment in Telugu was asked, CPIO is never providing such judgment. Inspite of all this PA confirms that his records are proper and four officials from Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderbad, and another place appeared for hearing spending Rs.2 lakhs for a simple hearing at CIC.

 

Infact, I wished to know more from experts about issues raised in post No.3 of other alternatives also.

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Sunil Ahya

 

If the information through certified copies can not be given for the reason invented by CPIO (treating CPIO argument as correct for argument sake without admitting) what prevents CIC-CPIO in transferring RTI Application under Sec.6 (3) to that CPIO of another PA ?

 

If it is not record in Appeal file of CIC, whether IC considering those documents while disposing the appeal was proper ?

 

R/ Prasadji,

 

Again it is a question of good faith as far as invoking section 6(3) in this case is concerned as there is no such established norm or practise in such cases, and so it may not have occurred to the PIO in this particular case.

 

By the way, how does a very clear Rubber Stamp of the Supreme Court explain the matter "it is not a certified copy"?

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Prasad GLN

I have never been to SC, but as per my knowledge in SLP, entire documents/evidences is retyped afresh and then they have to be enclosed with SLP.

If the same argument is proper, how a Court can provide certified copies on application, as evidences received from parties and those documents were never originated from Court ?

(this is the reason of my submission that any evidence/document considered by IC while giving a decision must be a document and must be duly certified by him, as it is in their file as record from PA)

It is time that DOPT should formulate clear cut guidelines on what forms a proper 'certified copy' under RTI Act. (I feel that any document that is treated by Court as legally valid as evidence must form the definition of certified copy)

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Sunil Ahya
I have never been to SC, but as per my knowledge in SLP, entire documents/evidences is retyped afresh and then they have to be enclosed with SLP.

 

In cases where documents are retyped afresh by a petitioner / respondent for submitting it to the Supreme Court, he himself attests (signs) and certifies it as a 'True Copy' of what is available with him.

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Prasad GLN

That is the reason exactly why SC is giving such certificates, as they are submitted by a party other than the originator, and as original documents are available always with lower courts, and copies of those documents are also provided to respondents who can raise objections if they are not proper.

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Sunil Ahya

Hope that helps you frame the grounds of your first appeal in a proper perspective.

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RAVEENA_O

Back reference to Post no.3

Because, they have become Public record, as IC has heard. acted upon and disposed Appeal , basing on those documents.

The issue is whether documents submitted by CPIO of another Public Authority in support of providing information to appellant and forms a record in Appeal file becomes CIC record or not ?

 

If it is not record in Appeal file of CIC, whether IC considering those documents while disposing the appeal was proper ?

 

The public activity entrusted to CIC is to hear and dispose off Second Appeals and Complaints amongst other things. None of the documents and papers connected with such proceedings u/s 19 or 18 originates in CIC office. Therefore, all decisions in discharge of the public duty entrusted to CIC is discharged based on documents on record of CIC and hence become part of public record. All papers connected with each complaint or appeal received and disposed off by CIC are thus record generated in normal course of functioning of the public authority and hence public record. In each proceedings, submissions are from both sides, i.e. from the Appellants and/or Complainants as well as from the respondent Public Authorities. The commission places / placed reliance on such submissions or records submitted before it and orders are passed based on such reliance. If the Commission cannot place trust on such documents forming part of its own decision, there shall be no sanctity on decisions flowing out of such records. Thus the presumptive value is that the records as contained on records of CIC are public records generated during normal course of functioning of the commission. Such documents, therefore, are records of the Commission and hence an information within the meaning of Section-2(j) read with 2(i) of RTI Act. Consequently, CPIO of CIC is required to supply such records as held by it, to any RTI Applicant in the form in which it is sought.

 

Whether CPIO has also to provide attested copies of documents to CIC, or it is only appellant that has to provide self attested documents ?

(Earlier same CPIO has provided some documents as per FAA order stating on one document and enclosing others stating that document 1 to 9 are attested and as second appeal was filed against such CPIO opinion, it may take further two years for hearing that appeal.)

 

Now a specific request asking for those 8 documents in the form of certified copies individually was filed and this is the new invention for denial by same CPIO of CIC.

 

Rule-11 of the (Central) Right to Information Rules, 2012 is germane to this query. Rule-11 provides as under:

 

11. Procedure for deciding appeals:- The Commission, while deciding an appeal may.-

(i) receive oral or written evidence on oath or on affidavit from concerned or interested person;

(i) peruse or inspect documents, public records or copies thereof;

(iii) inquire through authorised officer further details or facts;

(iv) hear Central Public Information Officer, Central Assistant Public Information Officer or the First AppellateAuthority, or such person against whose action the appeal is preferred, as the case may be;. (v) hear third party; and

(vi) receive evidence On affidavits from Central Public Information Officer, Central Assistant Public Information Officer, First Appellate Authority and such other person against whom the appeal lies or the third party.

 

Thus, all the documents which form part of evidences and submissions made by both parties, including respondent public authority or its PIO or FAA are required to be submitted under oath or affidavit. Those documents are not only public documents generated by another public authority, but also submitted before the commission under oath or affidavit and hence authenticated evidence on record. Commission having done all these exercises as enumerated under Rule-11, cannot infer that the records of appeal proceedings are not records of Central Information Commission. In view of this, there is no justified reason for the CPIO of CIC to deny certified copy of such documents when sought under RTI.

 

If the information through certified copies can not be given for the reason invented by CPIO (treating CPIO argument as correct for argument sake without admitting) what prevents CIC-CPIO in transferring RTI Application under Sec.6 (3) to that CPIO of another PA ?

 

Provisions of Sec-6(3) is amply clear. However, it is for the Applicant to submit application to the PIO of concerned public authority [sec 6(1)(a)]. It is not the case that applicant is not aware as to which public authority holds the information in question.

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Sunil Ahya
Back reference to Post no.3

 

 

The public activity entrusted to CIC is to hear and dispose off Second Appeals and Complaints amongst other things. None of the documents and papers connected with such proceedings u/s 19 or 18 originates in CIC office. Therefore, all decisions in discharge of the public duty entrusted to CIC is discharged based on documents on record of CIC and hence become part of public record. All papers connected with each complaint or appeal received and disposed off by CIC are thus record generated in normal course of functioning of the public authority and hence public record. In each proceedings, submissions are from both sides, i.e. from the Appellants and/or Complainants as well as from the respondent Public Authorities. The commission places / placed reliance on such submissions or records submitted before it and orders are passed based on such reliance. If the Commission cannot place trust on such documents forming part of its own decision, there shall be no sanctity on decisions flowing out of such records. Thus the presumptive value is that the records as contained on records of CIC are public records generated during normal course of functioning of the commission. Such documents, therefore, are records of the Commission and hence an information within the meaning of Section-2(j) read with 2(i) of RTI Act. Consequently, CPIO of CIC is required to supply such records as held by it, to any RTI Applicant in the form in which it is sought.

 

 

 

Rule-11 of the (Central) Right to Information Rules, 2012 is germane to this query. Rule-11 provides as under:

 

11. Procedure for deciding appeals:- The Commission, while deciding an appeal may.-

(i) receive oral or written evidence on oath or on affidavit from concerned or interested person;

(i) peruse or inspect documents, public records or copies thereof;

(iii) inquire through authorised officer further details or facts;

(iv) hear Central Public Information Officer, Central Assistant Public Information Officer or the First AppellateAuthority, or such person against whose action the appeal is preferred, as the case may be;. (v) hear third party; and

(vi) receive evidence On affidavits from Central Public Information Officer, Central Assistant Public Information Officer, First Appellate Authority and such other person against whom the appeal lies or the third party.

 

Thus, all the documents which form part of evidences and submissions made by both parties, including respondent public authority or its PIO or FAA are required to be submitted under oath or affidavit. Those documents are not only public documents generated by another public authority, but also submitted before the commission under oath or affidavit and hence authenticated evidence on record. Commission having done all these exercises as enumerated under Rule-11, cannot infer that the records of appeal proceedings are not records of Central Information Commission. In view of this, there is no justified reason for the CPIO of CIC to deny certified copy of such documents when sought under RTI.

 

 

 

Provisions of Sec-6(3) is amply clear. However, it is for the Applicant to submit application to the PIO of concerned public authority [sec 6(1)(a)]. It is not the case that applicant is not aware as to which public authority holds the information in question.

 

So what should a PIO (bonafidely of malfidely) do, please reply in a few words or sentences as possible (for the benefit of the future readers of this thread) ?

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Prasad GLN

The point that escaped the attention of experts is that "The same documents were provided by same CPIO" but in improper manner. (As stated in another thread On first document writing 1 to 9 were certified, and this can not be used evidence in Court of law) and whether this amounts to malafide denial now or not is not known (IC gets irritated if some one states malafide denial by CIC CPIO and they treat CIC as a holy Cow)

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Sunil Ahya
The point that escaped the attention of experts is that "The same documents were provided by same CPIO" but in improper manner. (As stated in another thread On first document writing 1 to 9 were certified, and this can not be used evidence in Court of law) and whether this amounts to malafide denial now or not is not known (IC gets irritated if some one states malafide denial by CIC CPIO and they treat CIC as a holy Cow)

 

So should PIO's point of view be considered malafide when you yourself are not so sure ??

 

Please reply as briefly as possible, may be just one word or a few sentences !

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RAVEENA_O

The officers of Information Commission are supposed to know the correct procedure for supplying certified copy of information. If the officers of commission themselves are not aware about the correct procedure, how can they implement the provisions of the Act in its true sense? Certified copy denotes certifying each copy.

 

If any applicant or respondent submits 10 documents by attesting one with endorsement that all are attested, Registry may not accept it. It is not that CPIO CIC is not aware about the procedure. When knowingly doing something wrong by public official, it is clearly malfeasance and not an act on good faith.

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Prasad GLN

Is malafide certainly . (even evading information is also malafide) but dare not point the same in writing before IC.

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RAVEENA_O

Even otherwise, considering it as misfeasance or nonfeasance, the CPIO, being the functionary of the model public authority, shall correct himself and abide by the correct procedure and supply certified copies of all the documents in question.

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Sunil Ahya
Even otherwise, considering it as misfeasance or nonfeasance, the CPIO, being the functionary of the model public authority, shall correct himself and abide by the correct procedure and supply certified copies of all the documents in question.

 

What is the misfeasance in this particular case which is malafide, can you please clarify?

 

Certified of the source of origin or source of holding it, can you please clarify ?

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Prasad GLN

As First appeal has already been filed taking experts opinion, let us wait for FAA,CIC decision.

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Sunil Ahya
As First appeal has already been filed taking experts opinion, let us wait for FAA,CIC decision.

 

Leave alone the decision of FAA / CIC, at whatever point in time that happens,

 

What is the misfeasance in this particular case which is malafide, can you please clarify?

 

Certified of the source of origin or source of holding it, can you please clarify ?

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karira

While providing certified copies to an RTI applicant, the PIO is NOT certifying the authenticity of the contents of the document, but just certifying that it is a true copy of the record held by the public authority.

 

@G.L.N. Prasad

 

I have got several certified documents from the CIC, including those that never originated from the CIC !

 

Why are they denying to you ?

 

Something fishy !

 

PS: Read the CIC FAAs orders available on the CIC website. You will surely find many where FAA of CIC has directed PIO to provide certified copies of documents - which never originated in the CIC.

 

Also read the judgments of the Delhi High Court (both single bench and LPA) related to asset declaration of Judges. There is a clear interpretation in those judgments about the word "held". In that interpretation reference has also been made to records which originated in some other public authority but copies ended up in another public authority.

 

Read very old CIC orders from 2006 and 2007 when many PIOs denied information or copies simply because they originated in some other public authority. Clear explanation is given in those orders also.

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Prasad GLN

It is also shocking to me.

The denial is from Senior most and well learned Shri Vijay Bhalla Dy. Registrar & CPIO, Registry of IC (SH)

For first RTI application also he has denied, but as per FAA orders provided them, certifying on 1 page of one document, stating that documents 1 to 9 certified, and they are not valid, and now a second appeal is pending before CIC which may take another two years.

Fresh application has been filed seeking same certified copies and amount was also remitted (as documents are provided earlier with such improper certification) through demand draft.

Now CPIO denied with the reason that copies have not originated from the Commission and asked RTI nodal to return RTI copying fees.

It is the same PA that has not provided information to your RTI Application .

 

First Appeal was filed with Mrs.Achla Sinha on 8th of Aug, 15 and waiting for FAA orders.

 

(I have got your reply in post No.23 (copy and paste) and enclosing as expert opinion to FAA with your permission)

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rameshverma

I am entirely in agreement with the opinion of Sunil Sir & Karrira Sir on this issue. The law has been settled by at least one HC. Hon'ble HIGH COURT OF KERALA AT ERNAKULAM in W.P.©.No.31947 of 2013 titled JOHN NUMPELI Vs PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER/ASSISTANT EXECUTIVE ENGINEER-1 decided on 31st day of January, 2014 considered this very issue and answered the point of Law as under:-

 

"-------As regards the first relief sought for, viz. a direction to the first respondent to certify the copies of documents furnished to the petitioner pursuant to Ext.P1 application as copies issued under the Right to Information Act, 2005, the stand taken by the respondents is that the Act does not contemplate such certification. Reliance is placed on section 7 of the Act in support of the said contention. Though section 7 of the Act does not refer to issuance of certified copies it is evident from the definition of the terms "information" and "right to information" occurring in section 2(f) and 2(j) respectively of the Act, that the Act contemplates issue of certified copies.

 

In the light of the provisions contained in sections 2(f) and 2(j) of the Act, the stand taken by the respondent that the Act does not contemplate issue of certified copies of documents or records cannot be sustained. Likewise I also find no merit or force in the contention of the respondents that grant of certified copies may give authenticity to the documents which may not be genuine or even fabricated. In the event of an applicant's request for information being granted all that the Public Information Officer would have to do is to certify that the copy is one issued under the Right to Information Act, 2005. He is not called upon to certify that it is a copy of a genuine document. I therefore, find no reason why the first relief prayed for by the petitioner cannot be granted.

 

I accordingly allow the writ petition and direct the first respondent to issue a fresh set of documents sought for in Ext.P1 application other than the No Objection Certificate issued by the Fire and Rescue Services Department on the petitioner paying the requisite fees and to certify the copies as copies issued under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The needful in the matter shall be done and copies of documents issued within one month from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment."

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Prasad GLN

Except one member, all others including Madam Raveena has expressed the same opinion, but the only issue is as to whether a senior most CIC official at CIC is not aware of this fundamental aspect, even after 10 years of RTI enactment ?

If he knows that and denies and when even prior decisions against his denials were over ruled by FAA, whether such actions amount to deliberate, persistent and malafide denials ?

 

I am more worried because, these are the officials that lead, guide and advise Information Commissioners on several decisions.

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