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  1. [caption id=attachment_66" align="alignright" width="300] information relating to mobile connection of any subscriber[/caption] Often it is asked "Can you get the Information relating to mobile connection of any subscriber?" This issue is regarding details of the telephone calls of other subscriber. The decided position is that Information relating to mobile/telephone connection of any subscriber cannot be disclosed to third parties being exempt under section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act unless the seeker of information is able to show larger public interest to justify the disclosure. However, the next question is can one get the information of call details of mobile/telephone of Government Officer? It is often said that the information relates to official phones the expenses of which are borne by the Government, therefore, the details of such calls be disclosed under the Right to Information Act 2005. So can you get the information relating to mobile connection of any subscriber of Government? The Central Information Commission in an earlier order in appeal F.No. CIC/AT/A/2009/000836 dated 09/03/2010 has held as under:- “From all accounts, the facility of telephone provided by a public authority to its employees was to facilitate their work. It is also obvious that the installation, maintenance and the usage of these phones were financed by the public authority’s budget. Norms and guidelines have been provided covering the usage of the phone, especially about when the private use of the ‘phone was to be paid for by the employee. Such call details, where public as well as private calls are intertwined, cannot be provided to avoid invasion of privacy under Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act.” Thus it is held by the CIC that the telephone or Mobile call details of any Government Servant Official connection cannot also be provided to any third party. Do you think this is the right approach that information relating to mobile connection of any subscriber should not be disclosed? Does is really infringes on the privacy of the Government Official? Please post your view. You can download the decision from our main portal here!
  2. [caption id=attachment_3668" align="aligncenter" width="680] Opinion given by the Legal Officers[/caption] An opinion given by the panel advocate of a public authority can be denied under Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act in view of the fiduciary relationship involved. However, the same is not the case with the opinion given by the Legal Officers / Branch of the public authority. The public authority claimed that the opinion given by the Delhi Legal Branch was not provided as it is an internal document of the bank. The commission stated that "..there was no provision in the RTI Act to deny information on the ground that it pertained to internal documents of the public authority." We have considered the submissions of both the parties. As per the past decisions of the Commission, the opinion given by a panel advocate of a public authority can be denied under Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act in view of the fiduciary relationship involved. However, the same is not the case with the opinion given by the Legal Officers / Branch of the public authority. The commission directed the CPIO to provide to the Appellant the specific information sought by him in his RTI application. The decision is available for download here!: File No. CIC/SH/A/2015/001637 You can discuss further at our forums here!
  3. rtiindia

    Ministers under RTI

    In a big decision, Central Information Commission have brought Ministers under RTI and declared Ministers in the Union Government and all State Governments as ‘public authorities’ under Section 2(h)of the RTI Act. The Ministers have a duty to inform the people about their efforts to fulfill the promises they have made, through Section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act and also to furnish the information as sought by their voters under other provisions of RTI Act. The commission has directed that a Public Information Officer within two months from the date of receipt of this order be appointed with each Minister Office. The Commission strongly recommends to implement the recommendations of NCRWC, Second ARC and replace the ‘oath of secrecy’ with ‘oath of transparency” so that the Minister will respect the right to information of the citizen, which was passed by the Parliament and considered as fundamental right intrinsic in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, and be answerable/accountable to the citizens. Ministers under RTI The question can came in front of CIC was Is ‘Minister’ a ‘public authority’? The Commission strongly recommended the Centre and States to provide necessary support to each minister, including designating some officers, or appointing as Public Information Officers and First Appellate Authorities. They also shall be given an official website for suo moto disclosure of the information with periodical updating as prescribed under Section 4 including the facility of meeting people since the Ministers deserve necessary assistance to receive, acknowledge and provide response to the representations given by the people and as Constitutional functionaries, the Ministers have a duty to inform the people about their efforts to fulfill the promises they have made, through Section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act and also to furnish the information as sought by their voters under other provisions of RTI Act. The decision can be read here: MINISTER UNDER RTI! You can discuss this post at our forum here! The wiki article is available here for further information.
  4. While obtaining information regarding details of selected candidates of economically weaker sections (EWS) from Doon Public School the PIO alleged that RTI Applicant has threatened her saying that “My dekhunga, my kuch karunga” and that applicant is not having any public interest behind his RTI applications. The RTI applicant denied all the allegations made by the officer and further stated that he is heading an NGO and all his activities are for public interest. The Commission having heard the submissions and perused the record directed the PIO/Education, West­ B District to provide point wise revised information to the appellant. The EWS Form is for application in Delhi can be downloaded from here formstore.in Anti-Corruption NGO are for Public Interest Following were the broad questions that came up during the hearing: Details of school’s selected candidate list along with waiting list, Copy of show cause notice issued by DDE for the procedure of EWS, reply of school on show cause notice etc The list of students admitted under the EWS category with all their personal details. It was alleged that Student who are given admission under EWS category, are being asked by the school to pay donations He also alleged that lot of stationery and uniform meant for free ­distribution to the EWS students is not being accounted for by the school. The decision can be read and downloaded from here! What are your views. Do you think EWS admission need more RTI application to find out the issues? You can discuss this decision at our forum here! This is an extract of the decision available on the CIC public website, and is meant for generating interest in our readers only. For the true detailed and authentic copy you must download the decision from the CIC website!
  5. rtiindia

    Ninja facts about RTI

    This compilation of important CIC decisions is for use by various stakeholders including public authorities (APIOs, PIOs and Appellate Authorities), Civil Society and Citizen groups as comprehensive guidelines for effective implementation of the Act. Originally these have been published by Institute of Secretariat Training and Management (ISTM), New Delhi. We have curated the decisions listed there for crisp and easy comprehension of a common man. We have attempted to compile them in one table format which is easily searchable. The last column also contains the citation details which can be used for citing at various places. We hope you shall find them useful. If you have more such cases to add, do let us know and we shall update them. Also if there are update to decisions posted in the compendium, may also be brought to our notice at forum! This compilation is intended to provide guidance to the readers only. It cannot be a substitute for the Act and the rules made there under. [table id=3 /]
  6. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) passed the order stating that because the RTI Applicant did not appear, it is assumed that RTI applicant has nothing to say and thus the appeal is disposed of. The RTI applicant complained that the First Appellate Authority sent hearing notices and when he went to his office, he would not facilitate the hearing. The hearing of the first appeal was postponed for 5 times because of which he has to suffer lot of inconvenience and lose all working days. Information Commission noted that this reflect a non ­serious attitude towards the first appeal hearing and amount to violation of statutory provisions which is limiting the period of hearing to 45 days and passed the order that after giving the due notice of hearing, it is the duty of the FAA to consider the written appeal of the appellant even if he is not present on the date of hearing and decide on the basis of the material before him whether the appellant is present or not. The RTI Act, 2005 provides the first appeal before the designated senior officer of the same Public Authority, with a view to provide a quick hearing and address the problems/grievance, if any, and clarify the doubts of the RTI applicant. Compelling the appellant to take 5 rounds for just first appeal was not proper. The Public Authority has a responsibility under the RTI Act to conclude the hearing. Presence of RTI Applicant Sh. Ashok Kumar RTI Applicant submitted that through his three RTI applications dt. 8­10­2012, 8­ 10­2012 and 20­10­2012 to SDM(Hauz Khas/Mehrauli) , GNCTD, he is seeking information regarding the procedure for issue of SC Certificate, OBC certificate and the Birth Certificate and other related details. The PIO replied in all the three appeals on 27­11­2012, 7­11­2012 and 16­11­2014 providing the information. The appellant made first appeals in all the three cases, whereby the FAA by his orders all dated 8­3­2013 disposed of the three appeals stating that the PIO/SDM(HK) has given the reply to the appellant and as the appellant did not appear before him during the hearing, he has nothing to say in the matter. Extracts of Decision (as available in the CIC website here!) The appellant complained that the First Appellate Authority sent hearing notices and when he went to his office, he would not facilitate the hearing. The hearing of the first appeal was postponed for 5 times because of which he has to suffer lot of inconvenience and lose all working days. The Commission recommends the FAA to take notices of hearing seriously and hear the appeal on the day scheduled without adjourning the same unless there is a compelling reason. Differing the first appeal 5 times in this case, reflect a non­serious attitude towards the first appeal hearing. The RTI Act, 2005 provides the first appeal before the designated senior officer of the same Public Authority, with a view to provide a quick hearing and address the problems/grievance, if any, and clarify the doubts of the RTI applicant. Compelling the appellant to take 5 rounds for just first appeal is not proper. The Public Authority has a responsibility under the RTI Act to conclude the hearing. The appellant submitted that the first date fixed was 2­1­2013 and finally it was heard on 5­3­ 2013. This shows that the First Appellate Authority has taken more than 45 days and made the appellant to visit his office 5 times. This will amount to violation of statutory provisions which is limiting the period of hearing to 45 days. Relevant Portion of the Section is reproduced hereunder – Section 19 Appeal:­ “(1) Any person who, does not receive a decision within the time specified in sub­section (1) or clause (a) of sub­section (3) of section 7, or is aggrieved by a decision of the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may within thirty days from the expiry of such period or from the receipt of such a decision prefer an appeal to such officer who is senior in rank to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer as the case may be, in each public authority: Provided that such officer may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of thirty days if he or she is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time. (6) An appeal under sub­section (1) or sub­section (2) shall be disposed of within thirty days of the receipt of the appeal or within such extended period not exceeding a total of forty­five days from the date of filing thereof, as the case may be, for reasons to be recorded in writing. “ The Public authority is expected to avoid such things. Ultimately it is not known whether the FAA has passed any order or not. The FAA order dt. 8­3­2013 shown to the Commission today during the hearing, reveals that because the appellant did not appear, the FAA assumed that he has nothing to say and thus the appeal was disposed of. The Commission recommends that after giving the due notice of hearing, it is the duty of the FAA to consider the written appeal of the appellant even if he is not present on the date of hearing and decide on the basis of the material before him whether the appellant is present or not. 5. In view of the above, the respondent authority is directed to facilitate inspection of the record to the appellant in all the three cases, so that he can see the files which provide for procedure available and requirements for procuring SC certificate/OBC Certificate/Birth Certificate and he can seek photo copies, which can be given, on payment of costs. Inspection may be facilitated within 2 weeks from the date of receipt of this order. You should read the blog post here to know more about the presence of applicant in front of First Appellate Authority here: Is it Mandatory to appear for Hearing by First Appellate Authority? Do you have anything to add to the above decision. Please post it in the comments below, or if you want to ask our experts a question, head straight to our forum and ask. Here is the link to our forum!
  7. CIC has directed to treat the RTI application as a complaint which sought to know the action being taken against those who register agreement to sell/Release deed after 5.00 pm in Sub-­registrar office. When the applicant went to First Appellate Authority (FAA), has held that the information sought seems to be in the nature of grievance and advised the Appellant to file a complaint so that the case would be investigated and brought to its logical end. The Commission however, recommended to the public authority Revenue Department, GNCTD to treat the RTI application itself as a complaint and after completion of the enquiry, the action taken report to be shared with the Appellant. (We are building RTI Wiki, if you are interested in contributing, please tweet #RTIWiki, we shall get back to you) The appellant filed RTI application dated 19­09­2012, whereby he sought information as to the a Registered Release Deed, Copy of Perpetual Lease etc. PIO replied on 18­10­2012. Being unsatisfied with the reply of PIO, the appellant preferred First Appeal. FAA by his order dated 06­03­2013 directed PIO to provide modified reply as to Point No. 4 to 8 and 13. Having not received the information, the appellant has approached the commission in Second Appeal. Treat the RTI application as a complaint Decision: The Commission directed the PIO to comply with the order of the Appellate Authority within two weeks and also to show cause as to why penalty u/s 20(1) should not be imposed upon him for not complying with the order of the Appellate Authority. The decision is available at the CIC website here! If you have queries regarding Right to Information kindly post at our forum here and if you have anything to add to this decision, kindly post it in the comments below.
  8. [caption id=attachment_164" align="alignright" width="203] Public Interest and Private Interest under RTI Act[/caption] Frequently under Right to Information Act 2005, Public Authorities have been exempting information in narrower interpretation of the term Public Interest within the RTI Act 2005. Itself the definition of Public Interest is vague and RTI Act 2005 amplifies by stating "Larger Public Interest". Refer Section 8 e and 8 j of RTI Act. According to one of the dictionary Public Interest is defined as : "Welfare of the general public (in contrast to the selfish interest of a person, group, or firm) in which the whole society has a stake and which warrants recognition, promotion, and protection by the government and its agencies." Despite the vagueness of the term, public interest is claimed generally by governments in matters of state secrecy and confidentiality. Thus it is approximated by comparing expected gains and potential costs or losses associated with a decision, policy,program, or project and is fairly left for the discretion of Public Authority to interpret "..is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information." RTI Act Section 8 j Does it mean that Public Interest is the sum of individual interests? Is the public interest, then, that what is sought by the majority? Should the perspective used in defining the public interest be purely numerical? Can the term “public interest” include the protection of certain “higher” objective values? Can those values then be protected even against the will of the majority? If so, who should define and protect the public interest in a democratic form of government? In a democracy, policy decisions are formed based on the principle of majority, i.e. by voting procedure. A majority decision (e.g. a law or constitutional law) is a sum of individual interests, or the result of compromises reconciling individual interests; the main mediators of these interests are political parties. Is a majority interest also a public interest? - Taken from the Research Paper here! However, the fact of the matter is that.. RTI Act does not draw a distinction between demand for information in public interest and private interest. In one of the appeal hearing to Central Information Commission (CIC), the respondent’s counsel has tenaciously argued that the appellant’s request for information is not in public interest and that he is seeking this information for extraneous considerations. The question was whether information is disclosable under the RTI Act only in public interest and not otherwise. The CIC has decided as follows: "The Act provides for disclosure of information to the citizens of India subject to the provisions of section 8, 9, 10 & 11 of the RTI Act. In other words, appellant is not required to establish any larger public interest in his search for all classes of information. He is required to establish public interest only in particular clauses of section 8(1) of the RTI Act. In view of the above, we hold that appellant need not establish public interest while seeking information for all classes of information." -The decision details are available for download from our main website here!
  9. [caption id=attachment_131" align="alignright" width="300] Right to Information Application form- can you ask why?[/caption] In Right to Information Application form, Information is being denied by Government under RTI Act because the applicant has asked reasons. Application asking why what is generally refused by Public authority. Therefore, it has been advised that an applicant refrain from drafting RTI Application having why and What under RTI. For example a query under RTI such has Why was the decision taken to cancel the tender? The above question shall be refused by the Public Authority resorting to provision of RTI Act that such information cannot be provided. Therefore, it has been advised by most of the activist and guides that the query be framed like this: Please provide me the documents on which the decision was taken to cancel the tender. However, it is very clear from the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, that information held by the Public Authority in material form has to be provided to the information seeker, unless such information is denied under one of the exemption provisions of the RTI Act. Section 2 of the RTI Act defines the form of the information that can be accessed by citizen of India. Simply because the Right to Information Application form has prefixed query with why and what does not debar him for receiving information if that is a part of the record held by the Public Authority. Therefore in the above example, if the reasons as to why the tender was cancelled has been recorded in the file or is held in any form by the Government, it shall be provided under the Right to Information Act 2005. This stand has been substantiated by CIC in one of the decision where the information was denied as the respondent nature of queries of RTI application were in the nature of queries prefixing why and what and was not replied to stating that since such queries do not come within the ambit of section 2(f) of the RTI Act, the information cannot be provided. Right to Information Application form- CIC stand on 'Why' and 'What'! The commission has stated in the above hearing that "Simply because the appellant has prefixed his query with why and what does not debar him for receiving information, which is admittedly a part of the record held by the respondent. The Commission therefore directs the CPIO to provide the action taken on appellant’s RTI application for issue of non-official photo pass as well as the reasons for rejection of application, as per record. " The decision can be downloaded from here!
  10. [caption id=attachment_122" align="alignright" width="300] RTI and Corruption in Government[/caption] The true intention of having Proviso (I) to Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act is to bring even the exempted intelligence and security organizations as specified in Second Schedule of the RTI Act within the scope and ambit of the RTI Act so far as allegations of corruption supported with cogent and reasonable legal evidence are concerned. Obtaining information under RTI for corruption issued from Exempt organisation may require a different approach. Right to Information Act 2005 Section 24. reads as "Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule, being organisations established by the Central Government or any information furnished by such organisations to that Government: Provided that the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section: Provided further that in the case of information sought for is in respect of allegations of violation of human rights, the information shall only be provided after the approval of the Central Information Commission, and notwithstanding anything contained in section 7, such information shall be provided within forty-five days from the date of the receipt of request." RTI and Corruption From the above clause it is clear that information by RTI and Corruption and Human Rights issues can only be obtained if following conditions are met: cogent and reasonable legal evidence to prove the corruption and Human Rights have been affected. Presentation before the CIC directly CIC directing the CPIO to disclose such information. In most cases corruption cannot be established inside the Exempt organisations by an RTI Applicant. In such case following procedure is of relevance. According to the Black’s Law Dictionary (West 9th ed. 2009 on p.86), the word “Allegation” has been defined as “1. The act of declaring something to be true. 2.Something declared or asserted as a matter of fact, esp. in a legal pleading; a party's formal statement of a factual matter as being true or provable, without its having yet been proved.” Thus, an allegation is clearly different from “Conjecture” which has been defined (on p.343) as a guess, supposition or surmise. The true intention of having Proviso (I) to Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act is to bring even the exempted intelligence and security organizations as specified in Second Schedule of the RTI Act within the scope and ambit of the RTI Act so far as allegations of corruption supported with cogent and reasonable legal evidence are concerned. Even being an exempt organization under Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act, it is nevertheless the duty of the organisation as an intelligence and security organization, to inquire into the allegations made by the complainant . Not discharging its duty would tantamount to ‘Nonfeasance’, i.e. the omission of acts which a man was by law bound to do. The following excerpt from the Judgment of Division Bench of the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court in Union of India (UOI) and Ors. Vs. V. Shankaran and Anr. [2008 (4) GLT 885] is of relevance here: “25. [...]"Official misconduct" defines in Black's Law Dictionary (7th Edition) as a public officer's corrupt violation of assigned duties by malfeasance; misfeasance; or nonfeasance, which is also termed as misconduct in office; misbehaviour in office; malconduct in office; misdemeanour in office; corruption in office and official corruption.” Thus, if the organisation simply refuses to take cognizance of allegations which are clearly based on reasonably sound legal evidence and omits to probe into such allegations when it was lawfully bound to do so, then such nonfeasance clearly amounts to an act of Corruption. If the nonfeasance results in allowing some from being brought to justice, then it will amount to corrupt practice on part of organisation. Thus, in such case it squarely attract the Proviso (I) to Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act and the information sought by the Appellant clearly relates to such information which pertains to allegation of corruption. The above abstracts have been taken from the decision of the CIC in the appeal No.CIC/WB/A/2010/000341/SS What do you think about the above interpretation, does this helps in issue of RTI and corruption? Participate in the discussion at our forum here!
  11. [caption id=attachment_172" align="alignright" width="300] Political parties under RTI[/caption] Political parties have been claiming exemption under RTI Act. But the decision of CIC shall change everything now. Political Parties under RTI Act now. Political Parties affect the lives of citizens, directly or indirectly, in every conceivable way and are continuously engaged in performing public duty. It is, therefore, important that they became accountable to the public. Their uniqueness lies in the fact that inspite of being non-governmental, they come to wield or directly or indirectly influence exercise of governmental power. It would be odd to argue that transparency is good for all State organs but not so good for Political Parties, which, in reality, control all the vital organs of the State. How Political Parties under RTI The CIC ruled that "We may also add that the preamble to the Constitution of India aims at securing to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; and, EQUALITY of status and of opportunity. Coincidentally, the preamble of RTI Act also aims to promote these principles in the form of transparency and accountability in the working of the every public authority. It also aims to create an ‘informed citizenry’ and to contain corruption and to hold government and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. Needless to say, Political Parties are important political institutions and can play a critical role in heralding transparency in public life." Political Parties continuously perform public functions which define parameters of governance and socio-economic development in the country.The criticality of the role being played by these Political Parties in our democratic set up and the nature of duties performed by them point towards their public character, bringing them in the ambit of section 2(h) of the RTI Act. Political Parties performs public functions qualifies it to be Public Authority under section 2(h). Indian National Congress (INC), Bhartiya Janta party (BJP), CPI(M), CPIO, NCP and BSP have been substantially financed by the Central Government under section 2(h)(ii) of the RTI Act and therefore political parties are under RTI. Bringing the Political Parties in the ambit of RTI Act is likely to usher an era of transparency in their functioning. Besides it would result in strengthening of democracy and democratice institutions in the country. Political Parties have constitutional and legal rights and liabilities and, therefore, need to be held to be Public Authorities. The argument runs thus. Political Parties are required to be registered with the ECI under section 29A of the R.P. Act, 1951 – a Central Legislation. An association or body gets the status of a political party on its registration. ECI awards symbols to Political Parties under the Election Symbols(Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, only after registration. The ECI calls for details of expenses made by the Political Parties in the elections. Contributions of the value of Rs. 20,000/- and above received from any person or a Company by a Political Party are required to be intimated to ECI under section 29C of the R.P. Act. ECI is vested with the superintendence, direction and control of elections under Article 324 of the Constitution. ECI is also vested with the authority to suspend or withdraw recognition of a political party in certain contingencies. More importantly, Political Parties can recommend disqualification of Members of the House in certain contingencies under the Tenth Schedule. The contention is that the aforesaid constitutional/statutory powers of Political Parties under RTI section 2(h). The CIC has set aside the order of the Single Bench of this Commission in Complaint No. CIC/MISC/2009/0001 and CIC/MISC/2009/0002 and it was held that AICC/INC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP are public authorities under section 2(h) of the RTI Act. The CIC further stated that "The gravamen of the above judgments is that for a private entity to qualify to be a public authority, substantial financing does not mean majority financing. What is important is that the funding by the appropriate Government is achieving a “felt need of a section of the public or to secure larger societal goals”. The ratio of the above judgments, particularly of Delhi High Court, applies to the present case. Large tracts of land in prime areas of Delhi have been placed at the disposal of the Political Parties in-question at exceptionally low rates. Besides, huge Government accommodations have been placed at the disposal of Political Parties at hugely cheap rates thereby bestowing financial benefits on them. The Income Tax exemptions granted and the free air time at AIR and Doordarshan at the time of elections also has substantially contributed to the financing of the Political Parties by the Central Government. We have, therefore, no hesitation in concluding that INC/AICC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP have been substantially financed by the Central Government and, therefore, Political parties under RTI section 2(h) of the RTI Act." You can download the decision from our main site here! Also the Press release is available at this post. Political Parties under RTI
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