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sidmis

Every time I seek information, I add the following line at the bottom.

 

During the Inspection I am intending to take photographs of Records, Documents, Objects that I am allowed to Inspect.

 

Invariably the PIOs [CPIO/SPIO] deny the same saying that taking photographs is not allowed in the Act.

 

So what is position? Any members of this forum ever used camera to take photographs during file inspection?

 

Any feedback/suggestion/decisions which may help me?

 

Sidharth

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sandeepbaheti

Never tried it. But as per my understanding, even if the act is silent in this regard, photography is just another way of taking notes/copies which is expressly allowed in the act. And if the inspection relates to public places like roads under construction etc. there is nothing to prevent you from taking photographs. Even if it relates to documents, right to take photographs is very much incidental to the right to inspect. I suggest you should take up this matter separately when you have to go to CIC/SIC the next time. If you present your case properly it is highly likely that they allow this and may be even make a rule in this regard.

Furthermore you can modify the line as:

"During the inspection I am intending to take notes, extracts or photographs of records, documents, objects that I am allowed to Inspect."

 

Sandeep

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sidmis

"During the inspection I am intending to take notes, extracts or photographs of records, documents, objects that I am allowed to Inspect."

 

 

Thanks for your suggestions. I will most certainly do that in my future applications.

 

But what difference will it make?

 

If a PIO is hell bent on denying such a privillege, how can these things make him amenable?

 

Btw I am particularly interested to take Photographs of Records, Office Equipements, Furnitures etc.

 

Incidently I found one order where taking photographs was allowed but in a different context. Any more such decisions can help me in my case.

 

http://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_31012007_17.pdf

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sandeepbaheti

There you are. Here's what I found in the link provided by you:

"The standard method of photocopying is not the only available procedure for

taking out copies of documents.....It should be possible to explore alternative technological solutions for photocopying

delicate documents, such as using static cameras and other similar instruments to take

snaps of the pages.....

 

Anyways the act allows taking copies. It nowhere uses the word "photocopy". As is clear above, CIC regards photography as another way of taking copies. So it is perfectly ok to take photographs.

 

But take it for granted that PIOs, who are always willing to create all sorts of difficulties for information seekers will not allow you to take photographs even after a logical explanation. As pointed earlier we will have to take up the matter in CIC sometime. May be the next time you or any of us goes to CIC. Till then things will continue as they are.

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karira

Please read Sec 2(j) of the Act:

 

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;

 

Digital photography is a "electronic mode".

 

It is allowed.

 

If a PIO obstructs you, go for First Appeal.

 

You can also take Video recording or Digital Photos while inspecting a ongoing work.

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dssampath

Vow! it is splendid to note down the threads from all experts. Normally, we don't go thro the act inch by inch. Thanks to Karira.

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rajub

Incidently I found one order where taking photographs was allowed but in a different context. Any more such decisions can help me in my case.

 

http://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_31012007_17.pdf

 

Thanks Sidharth,

 

Very useful citation.

 

I may have to use it sometime in future.

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Sunil Ahya

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;

 

It is debatable.

 

If the information already exists in the form of video cassette or in any other electronic mode it can be obtained in the same format.

 

Similarly if the information exists in the computer it can be obtained in the form of printouts, floppies, diskettes etc.

 

But to use video camera and generate a video cassette to obtain information would be debatable.

 

Ofcourse one can equate photographing to photocopying because although the methods are different they will generate the same information in different forms.

 

But what information can be obtained by a video camera, they actually capture approx, by thumb rule 25 photographs per second (25fps) and when one views them in sequence it appears to be a movie, so if the information already exists in the form of video cassette it can be obatined but generating a video cassette is a ?

 

And also to prove the authenticity of a video as well as photograph would be difficult because it would be difficult to certify them, whereas a photocopy can be authentic as it can be easily certified.

 

But it needs to be debated and clarified at the CIC level.

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karira

abhi987,

 

What is describe is covered in the definition of "record" in section 2(i):

 

i) "record" includes—

a) any document, manuscript and file;

b) any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document;

c) any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not); and

d) any other material produced by a computer or any other device;

 

Always read Sec 2(f) which defines "information"

along with Sec2(i) which defines "record"

and Sec 2(j) which defines "right to information"

 

"Information" includes "record"

"record" includes "image" (which means photograph)

Therefore, as you say correctly, you can take a "image" which is available on "record".

 

However, "Right to Information" under Sec 2(j) includes the right to obtain information in the form of ".....video cassettes or any electronic mode....". This section describes the "form" in which the information can be obtained.

So I can go and ask under RTI to be allowed to take certified samples, inspect and also record on a video cassette and take pictures.

 

I have successfully taken a video while a road was being constructed and taken samples of the material being used.

 

It is very easy to prove the genuineness of the video/picture. Just make sure that one of the contractors or the PA's employees are in the picture. If possible take the days news paper along and make someone hold it up.

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sidmis

As members have said rightly taking sample in the form of Photographs(digital,analog,video etc.) is permitted.

 

So I will do my inspections under protest and intend to take the issue all the way to SIC/CIC level for a final decision.

 

I also request other forum members do these type of request and see what is the reply.

 

P.S. I may have to urge the PIOs to disallow it so that the case can be taken up further.

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rajub

 

It is very easy to prove the genuineness of the video/picture. Just make sure that one of the contractors or the PA's employees are in the picture. If possible take the days news paper along and make someone hold it up.

 

May I put my slightly different opinion ?

 

If you only shoot the day's newspaper it proves the video is taken on or after the date of newspaper.

 

If the person holding the newspaper say today is so and so date and I am holding today's newspaper then it would decisively prove the date of the video.

 

Please correct me if I am wrong.

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sidmis
If you only shoot the day's newspaper it proves the video is taken on or after the date of newspaper.

 

Good Idea.:)

 

But how to make it. :confused:

 

We have to ask someone(of our own) to hold out a Newspaper of that day in the Background, since no CPIO/SPIO or anyone in the PA's office will do that for you.

 

So you have to have both 1.) a PA Employee in the Background and then 2.)a person holding a Newspaper of that particular day in a Single frame.

 

Can we accomplish that?

 

One day I shall certainly give it a try, no matter how difficult it appears.

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sandeepbaheti

In one of the other posts (regarding unbranded petrol) Karira has posted that he actually made the petrol pump manager stand with a newspaper in his hand and photographed him. You should should ask him how he managed that. :D

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colnrkurup

However, whenever I seek inspection next, I will defenitely add following request also in my application:

 

" I request that I may please be facilitated to inspect the document No...........in terms of Section 2(j)(i) and obtain the record including its photograph produced by my digital camera (any other device) in terms of Section 2(i)(iv) of the Act wherever I find it expedient"

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Sunil Ahya

I appreciate the point of view, but what if I choose to hold a one day/month/year old newspaper and get the PIO in the same frame. It is taking my word that I did not do that, I am a honest person.

 

To prove the authenticity shall be difficult, unless someone can clarify how they can be certified.

 

Ofcourse this video/ photograph can be useful as a collateral evidence to substantiate the case, and more importantly can be used as a psychological tool.

 

I understand that in a number of sting operations, where videos have been taken, the authenticity of the tapes have been challenged, I am not sure in which such case the authenticity of the tape has been upheld as being genuine and not manipulated. I would appreciate if the members of the forum are aware of any such case where ultimately such tapes stood the test of time.

 

But nevertheless the job is done because of the media coverage, hence it has a great phsychological value.

 

If allowed it should be definetly used, because it will immediately put the PIO on backfoot.

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Justice

I am a bit curious. With many govt buildings sporting notices "Photography strictly prohibited" - a hangover from older national security concerns, now almost irrelevant, will officials be running for cover using that?

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sidmis

I am a bit curious. With many govt buildings sporting notices "Photography strictly prohibited" - a hangover from older national security concerns, now almost irrelevant, will officials be running for cover using that?

 

Most pertinent point.

 

I have no idea on who issues such a notices and who maintains

a register on such buildings/objects etc.?

 

Can you tell us more?

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rajub
Good Idea.:)

 

But how to make it. :confused:

 

.............................

............................

Can we accomplish that?

 

One day I shall certainly give it a try, no matter how difficult it appears.

 

Who said "the word impossible is not in my dictionary"?;)

 

 

 

I understand that in a number of sting operations, where videos have been taken, the authenticity of the tapes have been challenged

 

 

If the "information" and the person holding the newspaper is in the same frame and the person in the video testifies on oath then it will be irrefutable evidence. (it is almost impossible for the opposite party to refute it). I am not a lawyer so I cannot say it with certainty but my common sense says this should be the case.

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karira
May I put my slightly different opinion ?

 

If you only shoot the day's newspaper it proves the video is taken on or after the date of newspaper.

 

If the person holding the newspaper say today is so and so date and I am holding today's newspaper then it would decisively prove the date of the video.

 

Please correct me if I am wrong.

 

The idea of taking a photograph with someone standing with a newspaper is like collecting corroborative evidence. One is trying to show that I was there on that day, did so and so inspection and here is a proof of it. That is all. Even if a PIO turns around and says the picture was taken some days after it was actually taken, how does it matter ? You still did inspection. You still have the letter of the PIO informing you the date of inspection and asking you to come on that date for your inspection.

 

Good Idea.:)

 

But how to make it. :confused:

We have to ask someone(of our own) to hold out a Newspaper of that day in the Background, since no CPIO/SPIO or anyone in the PA's office will do that for you.

 

So you have to have both 1.) a PA Employee in the Background and then 2.)a person holding a Newspaper of that particular day in a Single frame.

 

Can we accomplish that?

 

One day I shall certainly give it a try, no matter how difficult it appears.

 

Sidmis,

 

Just try it at home, using zoom and digital zoom.

 

Under Sec 5(3), the PIO is supposed to ".......render reasonable assistance to the persons seeking such information". Requesting a PIO to stand for a photgraph holding a newspaper is "reasonable assitance" while the applicant is seeking "information" (ie taking a photograph). If the PIO "deputes" someone else to accompany you for inspection, then he is thought to be taking assitance under Sec 5(4). That person becomes the "deemed PIO" and is therefore equally bound to follow Sec 5(3), just like the PIO himself would have.

Please also remember that, as per various decisions of the CIC/SIC's, the PIO is supposed to provide information himself as well as sign the letter providing information. "Inspection" and "photgraphy" is part of of your "Right to Information". Just tell him that his being in the picture during inspection is just like his signature at the end of the letter.

 

I am a bit curious. With many govt buildings sporting notices "Photography strictly prohibited" - a hangover from older national security concerns, now almost irrelevant, will officials be running for cover using that?

 

Just read Sec 22 - it is very short and sweet !

 

The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923, and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act.

 

This simply means that the RTI Act overrides over any other law time being in force AND any rule made under any law/act, OTHER THAN THIS ACT.

 

The notice saying "Photography strictly Prohibited" was put up based on a rule framed under some other law.

 

Here is one example of this:

 

http://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_18092006_15.pdf

 

A perusal of the averments of the appellant and the respondents makes it clear that there has been a serious error by the respondents in assuming that information in respect of sub-judice matters need not be disclosed. The RTI Act provides no exemption from disclosure requirement for sub-judice matters. The only exemption in sub-judice matter is regarding what has been expressly forbidden from disclosure by a Court or a Tribunal and what may constitute contempt of Court: Section 8(1)(b). The matter in the present appeal does not attract this exemption. Presence of a different provision in the Cantonment Act about supply of documents in sub-judice matters to a requester have had no bearing on the disclosure requirement under the RTI Act. Seen purely from the stand-point of the RTI Act, the right of the appellant to access the information requested by him is unimpeachable.

==============

 

Abhi,

 

Whenever you are drafting a RTI application or sitting across a PIO/AA/SIC/CIC and arguing your case, just think about the following:

 

1. If you have read any other laws/acts in India and compare them to the RTI Act, you will notice that the clauses of the RTI Act are generally "expansive" in nature, rather than "restrictive". They have been drafted to allow a "liberal" interpretation (whether by design or accident - I do not really know).

 

Just to give a example of what is meant by "expansive" clauses versus "restrictive" clauses and liberal interpretation, please see the following decision of the CIC:

 

The Commission heard both the sides. The Respondents maintained that they had not supplied the information asked for by the Appellant as proper fee had not been paid by him. The candidate had annexed Rs.10/- Court fee stamp with his application rather than any of the three other valid modes of payment: cash, bank draft/banker’s cheque/IPO. This submission was acceptable to the Commission. However, the candidate said that he would have paid the fee in the proper manner if the Respondents had replied to his application asking him to do so. The Commission accepted this submission also. Since the affixation of the court fee stamp with the application form shows that there was no intention on the part of the candidate not to pay the required fee and because the Respondents had not got back to him telling him the proper mode of payment of the required fee, the Commission directs the Respondents to treat this application as a valid one

 

(Sorry, I cannot give the CIC order number for the above right now, because this comes from the data base that I maintain. Just search for it on the CIC webiste and you will get the full order).

 

2. The PIO/AA/SIC/CIC should refrain from interpreting the RTI Act like a English Professor from Oxford or Cambridge - finding meanings of words, making out the grammatical sense or in one particular discussion I read, even analysing the punctuation marks (something about whether a clause was followed by a comma or a semi colon !).

As the recent Allahabad High Court judgement observed, any interpretation of any clauses of any Act should be done keeping in mind the overall object and purpose of the Act.

The overall object and purpose of the RTI Act is contained in the preamble of the Act.

So, whenever in any doubt about any clause of the RTI act, just go back to the preamble and interpret that particular clause keeping in mind what is said in the preamble. Doubt will be immediately cleared.

 

 

(Apologies for sounding like a professor !)

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sidmis
(Apologies for sounding like a professor !)

 

You definitely sounded like an Old Professer.

 

Nonetheless a very Good Lecture indeed.

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Sunil Ahya

Kariraji is an institution.

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sandeepbaheti

What an analysis! Hats off to you.

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Justice

Regarding Photography being prohibited notices

I think these things originated after 1962 or 65. I have seen many of these in Kerala. Let me prowl around & check if they are still being maintained as such and will photograph a notice.

The problem with the govt is that any anything once done will continue perpectually without any thought of current relevance. (Newtons first Law of motion)

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clinsmalhotra

Can applicant take photographs of the records using camera at the time of inspection ?

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jps50

yes. It is advisable to inform in the RTI appln that U would be using camera for photocopying, so that at the last moment there is no dispute.

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clinsmalhotra

dear Mr. Shah , I would appreciate if you just provide a reference .

I met PIO of commission today and posed same question . The Gentleman PIO was amazed and said that he was not sure if such permission could be granted and said he would consult Commissioners on this and then commit himself . Then he raised issue of fee for photographing the record and said he was not sure how to charge fees , if any .

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