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saggod

Can information be denied without citing any subsection of RTI Act section 8?

Question

saggod

I filed an RTI Application with a local Gujarat State University seeking details about number of CCTV cameras installed and the total expenditure on CCTV cameras in the past financial year.

 

Reply from PIO was "University feels that divulgence of any information with regard to security may jeopardise its safety and security, hence we are unable to provide the information sought." Not much elaboration and no reference to the RTI Act. Also this reply was sent more than 70 days after receiving the RTI Application.

 

I have 3 questions -

 

1. Can I still file First Appeal though more than 60days have passed since PIO receiving original RTI application?

2. What do I state in the first appeal? What grounds do I take?

3. Are there decisions which say that financial expenditure information must be disclosed even if it relates to security?

 

Please help.

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Prasad GLN

1. Can I still file First Appeal though more than 60days have passed since PIO receiving original RTI application?

First Appeal can be filed within 30 days from date of receipt of PIO response.

2. What do I state in the first appeal? What grounds do I take?

It appears that their grounds for denial appears justified. But every denial must state section of such exemption under Sec.8, and is also justification. Further stating mere number of cameras can not affect security process and location may. If certain information is denied on security grounds, PIO must justify such grounds and severe that information and must provide other information that is not concerned with security. PIO must necessarily provide acquisition and installation cost, name of the company etc. as they are in no way affects security point.

 

3. Are there decisions which say that financial expenditure information must be disclosed even if it relates to security?

As informed earlier, location is a security aspect and not expenditure incurred.

You can file First Appeal to FAA immediately, pointing out the inordinate delay and structure the grounds n the above points and pray for directions to PIO as expeditiously as possible free of cost.

 

(Even location may not be a security aspect as many public authorities display such notices stating that "You are under Surveliance etc., type"--as can be observed in Railway stations and in case of University it is more important and security is not that much requirement)

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saggod

Thank You!

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RAVEENA_O

File first appeal before the designated First Appellate Authority, within 30 days from the date of decision of PIO, on following grounds:

 

GROUNDS:

The decision of PIO is unjustified, illegal and contrary to settled principles of law. What is sought from the PIO is the nunmber of CCTV Cameras and the cost of installing CCTV Cameras during the previous financial year.

 

The decision of PIO that divulgence of any information with regard to security may jeopardise its safety and security and hence unable to provide the information sought is with malafide intention to deny information to the applicant.

 

Disclosing the number of CCTV cameras installed in a college and its cost, cannot cause any security threat. It is not the case that the applicant had sought the sketch showing the points of installation of each CCTV camera. Even otherwise, CCTV cameras are installed in a college with the object of in encouraging students in decent behaviour and discouraging them from unholy behaviour like ragging as also to detect outsiders entering the college premises and misbehaving with students. Even otherwise, most of these cameras are visible to people entering the college. Therefore even there is no secrecy about the locations of its installations. In these circumstances, decision of PIO in not disclosing the number of CCTV Cameras installed and its total cost is with sole intention to deny information without justified reason.

 

An information can be denied only if it is qualified for exemption under any of the clauses of Sec-8(1) or Sec-9, else the information must be supplied to the applicant. In this case, the PIO denied information without cogently concluding that the piece of information sought is qualified for exemption under any of such sections or clauses. Denial of information by PIO is therefore without reasonable cause.

 

TheCPIO did not supply information sought by me within stipulated time of 30 daysas mandated under Section-7(1) read with Section-7(3)(a) of the Act. Therefore,this appellant is entitled to receive the entire information free of cost interms of Section-7(6) of RTI Act.

 

The copy of RTI Application dated .........and copy of CPIO's decision notice dated .......... are enclosed herewith asAnnexure-A and B respectively for ready reference by this Hon'ble Appellate Authority.

 

PRAYER:Itis humbly prayed that this appellate authority may be pleased to :

 

[1] direct PIO to supply information asrequested vide application dated ........... ;

 

[2] direct PIO to supply the information free of costinterms of the provisions under Section 7(6) of RTI Act, 2005, since PIO failedto supply information within 30 days from the date of submission of RTI Application;

 

[3] Supply me the copy of parawise writtensubmission made by the PIO against the grounds raised in this appeal.

 

[4] In the eventuality of this AppellateAuthority arriving at a decision other than what is stated in prayer [1] and[3] above, the PIO be put to strict proof in terms of Section-19(5) of RTIAct, specifically with regard to denial of information without claiming any exemption under Sec-8(1) or Sec-9 and this Hon'bleAppellate Authority may further be pleased to record and supply to thisAppellant in terms of Section-19(5) of the Act, such proof produced to thesubjective satisfaction of this Appellate Authority, which cogently led thisAppellate Authority to arrive at a decision other than ordering to supplyinformation free-of-cost as mandated under Sec-7(6) of the Act.

 

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saggod

Thanks a ton!

 

This is very helpful. I just wish to make my Appeal(s) as perfect as possible so I have 2 further queries -

 

1. The reply of the PIO was not in accordance with Form C of the Gujarat Right to Information Rules, 2010 though Rule 4(1) requires the reply to be in accordance with that Form.

Should I mention this fact in the first appeal?

 

 

2. With the same University I had filed another (separate) RTI application demanding the amount of expenditure on scholarships for past 2 financial years. They provided info for 2014-15 and stated that "Audit is in process for FY 2015-16 and hence details can not be provided."

 

I can appeal this determination right? They are supposed to supply whatever records they have, right? If they have unaudited financials are they not required to supply those? Is there any CIC decision regarding this that I can cite in my appeal??

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Prasad GLN

1.Yes. Though it is not a valid ground, you can quote. (When PIOs are returning applications stating that it is not as per format, why should not applicant say that response is not in proper format)

2.There is no link between finalized accounts and audit.. Audit is verification of the accounts and for comments. Only after finalization of accounts, audit is possible. You can either ask for unaudited statement or ask PIO to provide the information after audit with such report. (If you ask for audit report, they will certainly provide you present statements, as audit report bring out several other irregularities)

To sum up the denial stating that the financial statements are not audited is not valid exemption stated in Sec.8 of RTI Act, hence the denial amounts to unlawful.

Edited by G.L.N. Prasad

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RAVEENA_O

Moreover, an information can be denied only if it is qualified for exemption under any of the clauses of Sec-8 or Sec-9, else the information must be supplied. In terms of the provision under Section-4(1)(a) of RTI Act, the PublicAuthority is duty bound to maintain all its records duly cataloged and indexedin a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under theRTI Act . The PIO cannot therefore deny information taking shelter of Audit.

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