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RBCHAVAN

Section 3 of the act

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RBCHAVAN

I am working as a Branch Manager in a registered Co-op Society and had asked for some information citing my designation in the applicants name column. My application under RTI was rejected citing Section 3 "that information is given only to citizens of India" and there is no provision for giving information to any legal entities like Company, Bank Corporations etc.

Can I file a first appeal

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RAVEENA_O

If you have submitted the application under your name and signature, even if official stationery is used, the PIO cannot deny the information. If so, please file First appeal before the designated First Appellate Authority within 30 days.

 

For detailed grounds for first appeal, please refer to : [h=4]WHO CAN DEMANDINFORMATION UNDER RTI ACT?[/h]

However, if you have signed simply as Branch Manager, without your name, it is considered as an application by the BM. In that case, please file fresh RTI application under your name and signature.

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Prasad GLN

To be simple always use a name at the place / blank of applicant without designation,: Ex; XYZ

disclose such particulars in the column for full address: Secretary, ABC Society,.......

Resubmit your application without further wasteful correspondence with PIO.

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jj99

RTI application is filed u/s 6 of RTI act which says "PERSON" and not citizen

 

6. (1) A person, who desires to obtain any information under this Act, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed, to—

 

 

even a company is a person refer Delhi HC judgement ( if you need let me know

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Sunil Ahya

I have attached a copy of the decisions on the subject matter of discussion, herewith this post.

 

 

CICs have time and again, consistently taken a view point, that beneficial provisions of the RTI Act cannot be denied merely on technical grounds, on the basis of a restricted interpretation of a definition.

But it would always be advisable to avoid applying in the name of an organization.

 

 

The reason why the definition has been liberally interpreted is because the only out come of the restricted interpretation would be that the person would have to make a fresh application on technical grounds (thereby only resulting in delay rather than denial of information) and in the end the decision to disclose the information or otherwise would depend upon whether the information is exempt under any of the provisions of the RTI Act.

 

 

Excerpt from CCIC Wajahat Habibullah's decision

 

 

Complaint Nos.CIC/WB/C/2007/00104 & 105 both dated 30.3.2007

 

 

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. v. 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 on 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 share holders 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 RTI 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 entities. 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.[/Quote]

Excerpt from CIC Padma Balasubramanium's decision

 

 

Appeal No.908/ICPB/2007

F.No.PBA/07/211

September 17, 2007

 

 

Even though in terms of RTI Act, only a citizen has the right to seek information from a public authority, this Commission has taken a view that directors of companies, partners of firms and office bearers of associations of persons could also seek information on behalf of the companies, firms and associations respectively.[/Quote]

Excerpt from CIC Padma Balasubramanium's decision

 

 

Appeal No.1400/ICPB/2008

F.No.PBC/07/221

January 31, 2008

 

 

At the outset, it was brought to the notice of CPIO that this Commission has been taking a consistent view in respect of companies, firms and association of firms that directors, partners and office bearers can seek information under the RTI Act in the name of the Company, firm, association of firm respectively even though these entities may not be construed as a citizen in terms of RTI Act. This is with a view to ensure that the beneficial provisions of the RTI Act are not denied on restricted definition. Accordingly, I direct the CPIO to dispose of the application on merits in terms of RTI Act within three weeks.[/Quote]

Excerpt from CIC Padma Balasubramanium decision

 

 

Appeal No.1586 to 1588/ICPB/2008

F.No.PBA/07/1223 & 1356

File No.PBC/08/0076

 

 

In this connection, the Commission has taken a consistent view that in respect of companies/firms/association of firms, directors/partners/office-bearers respectively can seek information under RTI Act and in the name of the Company/firm/association of firms, even though these entities may not be construed as ‘citizen’ in terms of the RTI Act, with a view to ensure that the beneficial provisions of the RTI Act are denied on a restricted definition.[/Quote]

 

You can download a copy of the aforesaid decisions from the following links and enclose it along with your first appeal:

 

1_Decision_March_2007_group company allowed to ask information.pdf

 

2_Decision_Sept_2007_Directors_OfficeBearers_Partners_RTI.pdf

 

3_Decision_Jan_2008_director can ask info.pdf

 

4_Decision_March_2008 office bearer can ask info.pdf

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Prasad GLN

If I remember well, subsequent to all this decisions, there was a decision of HC in which a Chartered Company, engaged in investigation of financial frauds, over a complaint against a Government Dept., was denied of that information, went to HC, and it is HC that interpreted the Act.

As it is only of academic interest, and I am also more for citizen rights , I have not kept the reference of Judgment.

A one timer, can just file simple RTI Application and can get the information.

But a multinational company, using this RTI to charge fees to investigate the tenders and such process, using RTI to me appears not proper, as they are using this individual rights to earn profit.

I do also remember a such decision by ICSA, wherein one informer, filed several RTI Applications sought such details of employees property details and income details, and the professor has passed strictures against use of this right for profit.

This is not all as a reply to the query, and we simply ask individual applicants to file application to satisfy PIO, as our focus should be on getting information and not on trivial issues. Now as Moderator has raised several CIC decisions, I wanted to just share this information for the sake of awareness.

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Sunil Ahya
But a multinational company, using this RTI to charge fees to investigate the tenders and such process, using RTI to me appears not proper, as they are using this individual rights to earn profit.

I do also remember a such decision by ICSA, wherein one informer, filed several RTI Applications sought such details of employees property details and income details, and the professor has passed strictures against use of this right for profit.

 

How is filing RTI, an individual right, if filed by a designation become a right to earn profit, can you please explain?

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RAVEENA_O

It is 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.

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Sunil Ahya
It is 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.

 

RTI is a beneficial legislation, and therefore it has to be liberally interpreted and not merely technically interpreted,

 

The reason why the definition has been liberally interpreted is because the only out come of the restricted interpretation would be that the person would have to make a fresh application on technical grounds (thereby only resulting in delay rather than denial of information) and in the end the decision to disclose the information or otherwise would depend upon whether the information is exempt under any of the provisions of the RTI Act.

 

Given the above, can you please cite any Supreme Court judgment which endorses your interpretation of a beneficial legislation, namely and specifically RTI Act, 2005?

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RAVEENA_O

Please refer to:

(1994) 4 SCR 99

AIR 1973 SC 106

AIR 1965 SC 40

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Sunil Ahya
Please refer to:

(1994) 4 SCR 99

AIR 1973 SC 106

AIR 1965 SC 40

 

1. Are these decisions with respect to Right to Information Act, 2005?

 

2. Is there a veil between Natural and Juristic person?

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Prasad GLN

I do not know, and certainly competent to confront Moderators on this issue. This is the Time of India Report. The earlier I have referred to ICSA decision and honestly stated that I have read it for sure but can not give citation details.

 

"The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that RTI cannot be used for commercial gains. The order came after the complaint filed by the editor of a magazine against the public information officer of Dargah Khwaja Sahib Ajmer, who had denied him information on complaints filed against employees of the dargah and the status report of the inquiry conducted by the dargah. The CIC, while directing the dargah to furnish the information to the appellant, observed that RTI Act could not be used for personal gains."

 

Also on this issue of RTI Act could not be used for personal gains ?

What is a gain ? What is the form of that gain is defined in law is not known to me.

A citizen may gain knowledge. A citizen may gain his benefit. A simple citizen may get satisfaction ?

I do not know that personal gain, A gain just for publicity .

I do agree that there should not be commercial element in that information seekers,

Then majority percentage of the applications are mostly on jealousy, professional rivalry. I do not know whether RTI differentiates those citizens in various sects, and as to whether the citizens irrespective of their motives are equally entitled to rights.

 

I can only say that RTI Act has taken care of such weird definitions, differenciation in between Citizens through a simple word. "Object" of the information. Chennai HC suo motu has taken their judgment and made modification on their own. The purpose, the object etc should not hinder information seekers.

 

Sorry, a protracted discussion of 2 pages on simple issue. (The comments is on my own lengthy response, without a solution)

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Sunil Ahya

"The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that RTI cannot be used for commercial gains. The order came after the complaint filed by the editor of a magazine against the public information officer of Dargah Khwaja Sahib Ajmer, who had denied him information on complaints filed against employees of the dargah and the status report of the inquiry conducted by the dargah. The CIC, while directing the dargah to furnish the information to the appellant, observed that RTI Act could not be used for personal gains."

 

 

With due respect, this particular CIC decision is irrelevant with respect to the subject matter of discussions in this thread (which is with respect to the interpretation of word "citizen" given in a beneficial statute).

 

However let me deal with the off topic question that has been raised, as follows:

 

Using RTI Act for personal gains or for public gains is a different subject matter altogether, but having said that, let me draw your kind attention to the following two points:

 

1. A request for information can only be denied under the exemptions given in section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act and not on the whims and fancies of whether the information is to be used for personal gains or private gains.

 

2. Moreover, section 6(2) of the RTI Act clearly lays down that, an applicant making a request for information shall not be required to given any reason for the same,

 

And therefore how, why and where an information procured under RTI Act is to be used, is beyond the provisions of RTI Act.

Edited by Sunil Ahya

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Sunil Ahya

Now, as far as, the subject matter of discussions in this thread are concerned i.e. interpretation of the word citizen used in section 3 of the RTI Act, please read the following reasoning given in the aforesaid CIC decision no. CIC/WB/C/2007/00104 & 105 (emphasis added):

 

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 sue 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 in 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. (Para 12) 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. v. 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 on 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 share holders 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 RTI 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 entities. 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 Secs. 6 and 7 of the RTI Act, 2005 within thirty days of the receipt of this Decision Notice

 

(Wajahat Habibullah)

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Prasad GLN

The proverb "ignorance is a bliss" is cent per cent true.

The more we read, the more confusion a common man creates, as he can not remember all, and his memory registers some.

I do not whether this decision was overruled by HC or SC as of now as much water has flown in Yamuna after WH.IC.

But my point of submission is, when the matter is simple, and when you anticipate any hurdle, avoid it, as that makes no difference.

For academic knowledge the details are having immense value, but our view is only through a common man.

What is the present definition of person as per RTI. Always file in individual name, if you have any doubts. Let not the information take a back seat, with these arguments. Destination is getting information. Avoid hurdles.

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Sunil Ahya

I do not whether this decision was overruled by HC or SC as of now as much water has flown in Yamuna after WH.IC.

 

I suppose you have not read the reasoning given in the said CIC decision.

 

Let me repeat it for your benefit, so that, no confusion remains:

 

Even if it were conceded that a company or a corporate body is a legal entity distinct from its share holders 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 RTI Act, 2005 is child.

 

Let any amount of water flow due to passage of time, the reasoning behind the decisions do not change.

 

If you have any subsequent (recent most / latest) Delhi High Court / Supreme Court decision, then you are most welcome to share the same, else the aforesaid CIC decision and more importantly, the reasoning given in it stands, it is as simple as that.

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RBCHAVAN

Thanks for the information.It was indeed very helpful

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RBCHAVAN

One of applications to the Information Commissioner was rejected citing Section 6(1) of the RTI Act as I had applied under the applicants name as "Branch Manager" Similar applications are pending to be appealed to the Information Commissioner (IC). Can I appeal in other applications to the IC even though the IC has informed us in other appeal that the application is not sustainable under section 6(1). Copy of the appeal to IC sent to PIO & First Appellant may yield information

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Sunil Ahya

There are a number of CIC decision (please note: that CIC decisions are mere persuasive precedents for SIC and as such these decisions are not binding on them).

 

 

CICs have time and again, consistently taken a view point, that beneficial provisions of the RTI Act cannot be denied merely on technical grounds, on the basis of a restricted interpretation of a definition.

 

 

But it would always be advisable to avoid applying in the name of an organization.

 

 

The reason why the definition has been liberally interpreted is because the only out come of the restricted interpretation would be that the person would have to make a fresh application on technical grounds (thereby only resulting in delay rather than denial of information) and in the end the decision to disclose the information or otherwise would depend upon whether the information is exempt under any of the provisions of the RTI Act.

 

Please refer to some earlier discussions on the same subject in the thread on the following link:

 

Who can seek information under RTI - an Individual v/s. a Company?

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