Under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act, the Public Authority can deny information in a particular form but it cannot refuse totally. Section 7 (9) does not even confer any discretion on a public authority to withhold information, let alone any exemption from disclosure. It only gives discretion to the public authority to provide the information in a form other than the form in which the information is sought for, if the form in which it is sought for would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority.
Hon’ble Kerala High Court in TREESA IRISH vs. THE CENTRAL PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER [WP(C).No. 6532 of 2006], with regard to Sec 7 (9) of RTI Act, had observed as follows: “In fact there is no provision in the Act to deny information on the ground that the supply of the information would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority……”
Disproportionately divert the resources
Taking recourse of the High Court judgement, the Commission, therefore, issued Show Cause Notice to the CPIO for wrongly denying the information by citing Section 7(9) of the RTI Act.
The commission observed that:
The Commisison observes that the CPIO cannot take protection of section 7(9) without any basis thereof. Under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act, the Public Authority can deny information in a particular form but it cannot refuse totally. The said subsection does not provide additional ground for denial of information. If section 7(9) applies to the tontext, the respondent authority has to give information in the same form as available.
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