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nk agarwal

Can opinion be Information

Question

nk agarwal

In one of the RTI Application asking for certified copies of file notings, an officer of Public Authority replies by giving his opinion.

My query is can this be called "information"?

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Prasad GLN

Providing of opinions as information is barred and PIO is supposed to provide that information available in physical form in his custody and is not supposed to collect, collate information or give opinions.

So  such opinion is not certainly information as per RTI Act and DOPT directives.  How this information is put into use for arriving to logical conclusions is debatable.

Please post that response given by PIO for information of the members.

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nk agarwal

Two of the  information sought was (1) " Name and designation of officers of PA who accorded approval and sanction of a particular action of PA"

(2) ".............certified copies of file notings for that  particular action by Public Authority.

The officer of PA in reply gives his opinion that ".......for that particular action no approval is required......"  

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Prasad GLN

Please post that response given by PIO for information of the members.:  This was solicited from you.

When approval is not required the information becomes a  final decision as the decision is within powers conferred by rules and regulations.

"For the particular action no approval is required" -------------is not opinion but a laid down norm.

If you have doubts you can either seek a copy of such order/notification/circular that empowers the officer to decide on the issue and if it is beyond his powers (ultra vires) you can make a complaint to Head of the institution.

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nk agarwal

The matter is still live and relates to an action of PA for which RTI was filed. I believe, "the officer of PA" was under obligation to provide categorical information if it is available in records/documents etc. and if no information was available, he was supposed to inform so; there is no scope for him to provide an opinion or his view on the matter or conjecture.

A bad practice/a despotic action/action on whims and fancies/ action contrary to law cannot be said to become  a laid down norm and no rules & regulations can make any PA omnipotent.- My RTI application is not challenging these aspects of PA.

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Prasad GLN

If you think that the action of any officer is bad practice/despotic action/Whimsical action contrary to law, seek specific information and ask for a copy of such rules and regulations that empower him, make a written complaint to concerned superior stating such ultra vires actions, as applicants can not question the actions of officials and can not decide on quality of their decisions.  A decision may be good or bad, but as an applicant, one is concerned with a physical form of that record in custody of the authority that stated such action.

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nk agarwal

Thanks, A follow up will be done and outcome latter on will be  shared.

In fact in the RTI one of the requested info  was for the copy of the rule too along with other info like file notings before the despotic action was taken by the PA. It is the same RTI in which the PIO abused and violated section 6(3) of the RTI Act-2005 and allowed violation of RTI Act-2005 by other officers of the PA  as well. Interestingly the PIO is also the Sr. Law Officer of the PA.

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nk agarwal

Already side effects have commenced by UPCL officers because of the RTI Application and follow up. Out of 17 electricity bills for our apartment complex, our bill on 10.9.19 was not generated. Complaint #21109191532 dtd. 11.9.19 is still un-resolved and in the next bill we have been made defaulter and late fee added. One of the Chief Engineer of UPCL is also an (owner) and resident in this complex.

The matter is being pursued with UPCL and the RTI application is also being pursued.

 

 

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Prasad GLN

What were the side effects ?  You mean harassment of RTI Applicant ?  It is quite normal and expected as retaliation, and in view of all these we always advise applicants to step into RTI, expecting such indirect harassment.  Applicant must be competent, and the drafting should be most deftly, and PIO should think twice before resorting to such steps against applicant.   Generally, those who are confident of facing such measures from PIOs, step into the field.  Authorities accuse applicants as black mailers and attribute motive of extortion, but they do not hesitate to search for loop holes or use the system against citizen, and when all those fail, they branch the applicants as a nuisance. 

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nk agarwal

Yes, many RTI users ave been killed and I am aware of it. Its unfortunate, very unfortunate. I too feel scared for me and my family. The present RTI of mine in UPCL has wider ramifications - Taking over of the  society of our residential complex by some owners who have benami properties and a few are Sr State Govt. functionaries and they have been pulling strings.... . UPCL gets involved because of one of the Chief Engineer of UPCL who has interest in this.....besides a few others who are playing from behind a veil. Anyway, I am hopeful RTI will help me, may be at a cost...as you said.... 

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nk agarwal

Further - such situations have been created by the (1) long pendency of 2nd appeals at CIC and SICs, (2) Poor decisions of Information commissioners. (i) when in a 2nd appeal, the Information Commission orders PIO to provide information it implies delay hence, as a rule suo moto penalty should be imposed - this is not done and the PIO remains uncorrected, (ii) Pendency of appeals delays the purpose and in many cases the applicants give up filing of appeals.

The Information Commissions have failed to be a watch dog to protect RTI Act-2005. Also in penalty proceedings the appellant should be heard and its not a matter solely  between the PIO and the Commission. Also in case the PIO prefers an appeal in Highcourt-Apex court, the Information commission and the appellant be made a party and heard. The penalties remain un-recovered and un-pursued by Commissions, in most cases PIOs obtain a stay from high courts and thereafter it remains as such in the Commission-un-pursued. The whole process is defeated and the PIOs and PAs take the advantage of this situation and gets courage to harass information seekers.

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Prasad GLN

To be honest, there is no sincerity towards implementation of RTI Act in any stake holders.  Getting a good decision is more a luck.

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nk agarwal

UPCL stopped sending us Electricity bills while rest of the Society members and the common Electricity Bill of the Society are being issued. Pl. refer my post of 15.10.19. We are ready to face the consequences but, will  pursue the matter to its logical end. 

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