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IGNORANCE OF SECTION 4(1)(d) OF RTI ACT

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We fail to realise the strength of Section 4(1)(d) of the RTI Act the same way we fail to understand Section 19(5) . Secion 4(1)(d) supplement whatever short-comings one feel in Section 2(f) and 2(j). The PIOs, AAs and even the SICs appears to be ignorant of it. At least the SIC, Kerala, more so its Chief, is defenitely ignorant of it.I am bringing it out with the help of certain information obtained in my own cases. I had come across innumerable examples of their ignorance but his Order CP No.740/2007/SIC dated 29-3-2008 (as usual this order also issued after 40 days of its hearing on 29-3-2008)is a crowning example. The funniest part is that I had achieved what I had sought by using RTI in a different way despite his above orders dismissing my complaint as it is likely to embarass certain vested interests.

 

In a case involving clear case of coruption where the Village Oficer has shown 4.58 acres of prime land worth nearly Rs.12 crores in the name of someone who does not have any title to it in the process of computerisation of land records. Govt.orders make it incumbant on the Village officer to personally verify the title transfer deed and certify correctness.. Since part of the above land in my title and possession also seen included I asked the Village officer under RTI Act, the particulars of title transfer deed under which it is shown in the name of ...... I got a prompt reply that Regd Deed No.1697/46 dated 12-8-1946 has transferred above 4.58 acres by one Aspin Walls & Co.,in the name of.....Since it include my land also and none of my ancestors having never transferred this land at least since last 200 years I have obtained copy of ibid deed No.1697/46 from Sub Registrar Office and found that it does not pertain to above land but a different land of 4.78 acres of different survey Number in a different block. The entire official heirarchy upto Commissioner, Land Revenue refused to entertain my complaint due to..........

 

At last I had complained to the Chief Minister and Principal Secretry (Revenue). They promptly replied me that my complaint has been sent to the District Collector, Kannur for urgent action. But the Collector is seen taking no cognizance of it for long. Under the circumstances I had filed a fresh RTI application to PIO of Collectorate, Kannur. In my application, after explaining the background and the provisions of Section 4(1)(d) of the RTI Act I had asked him to

 

"Provide reasons for the administrative or quasi-judicial reasons for the Collectorate, Kannur for not taking adequate cognizance of my complaint petetion forwarded to the Collectorate by the Chief Minister vide his Order No.213773/2005/CM dated 4-10- 2005 and Principal Secretary (Revenue) by his letter No.24240/2005/CM dated 6-10-2005 at least by directing the Tahsildar to call and verify the above title deeds etc. "

 

The PIO has malafidely denied me the information by replying that "this subject is to be considered by the judiciary"

Since no reply from the AA received I had filed a complaint to SIC on 28-11-2006 under Section 18(1)(f) of the RTI Act.

 

Since I had adready established with SIC about redundancy of complainant attending hearing due to Section 19(5), the SIC has endorced me copy of the notice calling the District Collector for hearing on 29-2-2008 solicitting my attendence. As usual I replied that I do not have anything more than what I had explained in my complaint to add and I will not be able to attend the hearing.. The Complaint heard as scheduled and following are gist of the orders of SIC:

 

 

Firstly he has gone into the merit of the case to justify that approaching the judiciary is the only solution when my complaint was non-response from the AA to my first appeal.. He has no reason to examine the case other than the aspect of AA not replying me as complained.. He has suo motu decided the case without my filing a Second Appeal. The AA has claimed that he has replied. But in SIC's Order itself the SIC very specifically say that even the SIC has not received any reply claimed to have sent by AA However based on the copy of AA's reply received during the hearing he has decided the case without my Second Appeal or endorcing a copy of AA's reply to me and closing the complaint. However the main reason attributted by SIC for dismissing my complaint is that " RTI Act does not envisage entertaining requests for information made in the form of INFORMATION / INTERPRETATIONS/COMMENTS /INTERROGATIVES...., Accoding tohim COMMENT / OBSERVATIONS/ INTERPRETATIONS etc do not fall in the category of information , as defined under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act. He orders that request for information has tobe specific , and the public authority would then be bound to provide the information within the time specified , under the RTI Act but response of any kind of comments/ interpretations/interrogations etc., can never be testified under the provisions of the Act. IF ADMINISTRATIVE LAPSE etc., are observed , they had to be taken up before the appropriate forum by the' concerned cityzens'for appropriate action. "

 

The SIC keep on harping this aspect in 3 single space sheets.

 

I too have no doubt that the above does not fall under 2( f) but I had specifically asked and worded Section 4(1)(d). I donot agree with his view that "ADMINISTRATIVE LAPSES does not fall under RTI Act when Section 4(1)(d) very secifically say that it is obligatory on the public authorities to provide reasons for its administrative lapses to the afected person. I had explained that I am the affected person.

 

By obtaining different replies by resorting to 5 RTI application I had confronted the District Collector. She heard me and ordered as I requested the chief Minister., Corruptiuon expossed and the matter is under investigation by V & AC Bureau on orders of both Special Judge and Princippal Secretary, Vigilence. The above reply of SIC is of no use to me though I can still file a Second appeal as I have not done so so far. However I wish to persue the issue of applicability of Section 4(1)(d). Any materials to help me in this task is most welcome.

 

 

 

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A.P INFORMATION COMMISSION

(Under Right to Information Act, 2005)

HACA Bhavan, Opp: Public Gardens, Hyderabad-4

Phone Nos. 23230245 / 246 (O), 23230592 (F)

Appeal No.2826/SIC-ASR/2007

Date:19-07-2007

 

 

Name and address of appellant : Group Capt. O.N. Bharghava(Retd.), 52, Sector-A,

AWHO Colony,

Secunderabad 500009

 

Name and address of Public Authority : Divisional Cooperative Officer,

Secunderabad Division,

Block M4, 1st Floor,

Near Exhibition Grounds,

Nampally,

Hyderabad 500001.

 

 

ORDER

 

Sri O.N. Bharghava filed an appeal dated 16.5.2007 which was received by this Commission on 22.5.2007 for non furnishing of information by the Public Information Officer and Appellate Authority.

According to the appellant, the General Body of Army Welfare Cooperative Housing Society Ltd., in its meeting in the month of November 1999 passed a resolution to impose levy, termed as ‘tenancy charges’ on tenants (who are not members of the Society). The appellant has stated that the President of the AWCHSL vide his letter number nil dated 25.9.2004 approached the Divisional Cooperative Officer, Secunderabad Division to seek clarification/confirmation regarding the legitimacy of levying of tenancy charges by the General Body on the tenants of the colony. In reply to this letter, the Divisional Cooperative Officer, Secunderabad Division informed the President, AWCHSL vide Lr. Rc. No. 2221/2004-Hsg, dated 25.9.2004 that the General Body of the said Society is competent to introduce/levy charges on the tenants of the colony to maintain the colony and to meet day-to-day requirements of the colony for proper upkeep and maintenance of the colony.

Contending that the DLCO, Secunderabad Division has given his above said opinion or made a statement on ‘tenancy charges’ without giving any reason (i.e., any provision in the law or rules which permit a Society to levy ‘tenancy charges’ on tenants, who are not members of a society), the appellant made an application dated 9.4.2007 before the Assistant Registrar/Public Information Officer, O/o. the Divisional Cooperative Officer, Secunderabad Division, Hyderabad with a request to inform the reason (specific provision in law or rule) for the unequivocal decision given or statement made by the Divisional Cooperative Officer, Secunderabad Division communicated to the President, Army Welfare Cooperative Housing Society Ltd., Secunderabad through Lr. Rc.No. 2221/2004-Hsg, dated 25.9.2004 to the effect that the General Body of the said Society is competent to introduce/levy charges on the tenants of the colony to maintain the colony and to meet day-to-day requirements of the colony for proper upkeep and maintenance of the colony.

With reference to the application dated 9.4.2007, the appellant was informed by the Dy. Registrar of Coop. Societies/Divisional Coop. Officer, Secunderabad Division vide Lr. Rc. No. 1090/2006/Hsg, dated 16.4.2007 to the effect that the CC & RCS, A.P., Hyderabad vide Lr. dated 29.7.2006 has already clarified that under the RTI Act, the information required can be secured, accessed by the applicant by paying requisite fee as prescribed, but the applicant cannot seek legal clarification and

interpretation of the Act and the same was also informed to him vide DLCO’s Lr. dated 18.8.2006.

According to the appellant, the above said letter dated 16.4.2007 was received by him on 12.5.2007 before which i.e., 9.5.2007, he had already filed an appeal before the Divisional Cooperative Officer, Secunderabad Division, Nampally with a request to provide the information sought for by him.

Aggrieved by the said information furnished by the DLCO, Secunderabad Division, the appellant filed the present appeal requesting the Commission that under the provisions of Section 4(1)(d) of the RTI Act, 2005, the DLCO, Secunderabad Division may be advised to provide to him, the provisions of law or rule for his opinion, statement on the administrative/quasi-judicial decision given in DLCO’s Lr. Rc. No. 2221/2004-Hsg, dated 25.9.2004.

The appeal has been examined.

As per Section 5(1) of the RTI Act, 2005, every public authority shall designate State Public Information Officer and as per Section 5(2), the State Assistant Public Information Officer.

The appellant herein is referring Section 4(1)(d) of the Act which is not connected with the functions of the Public Information Officer.

Section 6 R/w. Section 7 says that the Public Information Officer has to furnish the information requested for. In that view of the matter, the request of the appellant seeking for certain information under Section 4(1)(d) of the RTI Act is not within the domain of the Public Information Officer.

In the circumstances, the request made by the appellant in regard to Section 4(1)(d) of the Act, cannot be considered and hence the appeal is rejected as not maintainable at the admission stage.

 

 

AMBATY SUBBA RAO

State Information Commissioner

Authenticated by

(T.D. PRASADA RAO)

Asst. Registrar.

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This is NOT an answer to your problem, but only an attempt to clarify the question. S4(1)d states that "Every public authority shall provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons." On the face of it, to me this only requires the PA to not be arbitrary in its RTI ruling, but provide some supporting logic for whatever decision it arrives at on an RTI request.

 

Whether this in some way also helps trump the limited interpretation of s2(f) so strongly favoured by the CIC (that "information" excludes "advice, explanation, opinions and roving inquiries"), and whether asking for "reasons" helps you seek information, in your initial RTI request, that is in the nature of an "explanation" for something DONE IN THE PAST (as opposed to referring merely to an explanation FOR THE ACTUAL RTI RULING MADE by the PIO/FAA on your request) is not clear to me. Do previous rulings offer any guidance in resolving this? Your question does seem very important, and I hope someone will shed more light on this matter.

 

Maybe some of the immediate difficulty could be resolved by re-wording the RTI request (at least I am confused about what it is you really want) or finding a little editorial help. Best,

 

Murgie

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My this post is still in continuation of post 2 above. This (SIC A.P decision) is another quixotic interpretation of sec4(1) (d).This only deals upto PIO at a very narrow level.

However in your case,If appeal is prefered to FAA-collector of Kannur-the FAA is bound by Sec4(1)(d) to inform you of reasons for its its administrative or quasi judicial decisions for not taking cognizance of your complaint ,forwarded by CM/revenue secretary.

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I agree. The statement in the SIC-AP ruling "The appellant herein is referring [to] Section 4(1)(d) of the Act which is not connected with the functions of the Public Information Officer." ignores the requirement that a decision cannot be arbitrary.

 

My non-lawyerly opinion: While any "information" sought in an RTI request must satisfy the definition under s2(f), any RTI ruling must meet the requirements of s4(1)d.

 

Best,

Murgie

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Just search for "Section 4(1)(d)" OR for "4(1)(d)" on the CIC website.

There are several pages of decisions.

Nearly all are in favour of the PIO giving information under Sec 4(1)(d).

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Heres an alternate.. when a order is passed on adminstrative lapses.... the same can be used as a documents and filed as a WRIT PETITION in the High Court seeking clarifications and circumstances under which the lapses took place and if found guilty of misuse of power or corruption you could seek for criminal or civil damages... But let me forwarn this is for people turned for a LONG BATTLE.... But so far there is not a single citation to show that bureaucrats have been punished...

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As guided by Mr.Karira, if one search the CIC web one get more than enough materials supporting request for reasons under Section 4(1)(d). The CIC seems very clear on this issue.

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I have asked similar query about reasons for no action against a public servant caught red handed by the CBI.My respondent employer have furnished reply that they have not suspended him,they even not sought any explanation from either him or the public servants on whose behalf he was taking bribe (despite the fact that he was caught red handed dt.10.02.09 news was widely published in news papers with photo).

On the other hand my suspension on frivolous charges continues since 10 april 08.

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