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  1. Information Officer is not required to furnish information which require drawing of inferences and/or making of assumptions. In the decision Kerala HC - Mohd Saiyad Vs State, decided that though RTI Act provides access to all information that is available and existing, if the information sought is not a part of the record, and where such information is not required to be maintained under any law or the rules or regulations of the public authority, the Act does not cast any obligation, to collect such non-available information and then furnish it to an applicant. The Information Officer is also not required to furnish information which require drawing of inferences and/or making of assumptions. PIO not to draw inferences or make assumptions to provide information The very scope of information as held by the Supreme Court in Central Board of Secondary Education and another v. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Others (rti_SC_CBSE) [(2011) 8SCC 497] is to seek the information which is available in a material form. The Decision is available here: Kerala HC - Mohd Saiyad Vs State
  2. In what could be a relief to thousands of RTI Activist and Information seekers, Kolkata high court has allowed use of post box in filing RTI which shall enable contact of a user with the authority without revealing personal details of the information seeker. You do not need to worry about your safety when Post Box is there. Also you do not need anybody else to file RTI on your behalf. DoPT in its circular dated 8th January 2014 has forwarded the circular to all ministries to allow the use of Post Box as a valid communication medium between an applicant and authority. The circular is available here! “41 Paisa per day, secure your privacy each day”, and avail the Post Box from India Post. In what could be a game changer there would be heavy demand for Post boxes across India to avail the near anonymous RTI filing. Post Box is available at Rs. 150/- per year on rent and any citizen can request to his nearest postmaster to avail this facility. Once you avail this facility, you address shall be only your name, PO Box number, Post Office Name and PIN code. Your real address shall be hidden and authorities cannot verify the address of yours, though they can communicate to you easily. Section 6 (2) of the RTI Act states that: "(2) An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him." RTI Activist safety at only 41 Paisa High court of Kolkata stated that "when the legislature thought it fit, the applicant need not disclose any personal details, the authority should not insist upon his detailed whereabouts, particularly when Post Box number is provided for that would establish contact with him and the authority." The High court asked Secretary DOPT to circulate this to all concerned and to take appropriate measure to hide information with regards to personal details of the Activist to avoid any harassment by the person having vested interest. We have a detailed article on Post Box which shall clarify all the doubts about using it at our sister portal nationalconcerns.com here: What is Post Box? Kindly download the article here and spread this information: Here is the direct link to downloading the article.
  3. rtiindia

    Oral Directions to Civil Servants

    Where the fear of APAR is there, does a junior officer ever get a chance to record that superior officer has given the directions? Even if superior officer gives oral directions, it is actually imbibed by junior officer as his own noting. Both All India Civil Service Rules and Central Civil Service Rules covering most of the Government civil service contains the provision in Section3 from time immortal: The direction of the official superior shall ordinarily be in writing. Oral direction to subordinates shall be avoided, as far as possible. Where the issue of oral direction becomes unavoidable, the official superior shall confirm it in writing immediately thereafter; A Government servant who has received oral direction from his official superior shall seek confirmation of the same in writing as early as possible, whereupon it shall be the duty of the official superior to confirm the direction in writing. Supreme Court Decision: "We, therefore, direct all the State Governments and Union Territories to issue directions like Rule 3(3) of the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968, in their respective States and Union Territories which will be carried out within three months from today." Oral Directions to Civil Servants It is not understood why this is a big news for the media, except for creating expectation of unexpected. On the first reaction from most of the officers, it is found that without reading the judgement of supreme court, they have unanimously concluded that from now on all decisions shall be in writing. That superior officer shall give most of the directions in writing. However, with the decision of Hon'ble Supreme Court, nothing changes. Only that SC has emphasised that like AIS rule 3(3) applicable to All India Service Officers, the directions shall be issued by all state Government to be implemented for other officers too. What is means that now the method applied by IAS in the state Government shall need to be followed by other service personnel too like State Services / Provincial Services. There is no change in the way Rule 3 (3) is to be interpreted. Rule 3 (3) in IAS and also in Central Civil Service has always been there from 1964 or so. It is true that the civil servants cannot function on the basis of verbal or oral instructions, orders, suggestions, proposals, etc. and they must also be protected against wrongful and arbitrary pressure exerted by the administrative superiors, political executive, business and other vested interests. Further, civil servants shall also not have any vested interests. Resultantly, there must be some records to demonstrate how the civil servant has acted, if the decision is not his, but if he is acting on the oral directions, instructions, he should record such directions in the file. If the civil servant is acting on oral directions or dictation of anybody, he will be taking a risk, because he cannot later take up the stand, the decision was in fact not his own. Recording of instructions, directions is, therefore, necessary for fixing responsibility and ensure accountability in the functioning of civil servants and to uphold institutional integrity. But does it really change anything in the system? The problem is not who records it, the problem is if it is ever recorded! Where the fear of APAR is there, does a junior officer ever get a chance to record that superior officer has given the directions? Even if superior officer gives oral directions, it is actually imbibed by junior officer as his own noting. And yes indeed he cannot later take up the stand, the decision was in fact not his own. Therefore, implementing the Supreme Court Decision in other Departments and ministries of state Government shall not make much difference in so far as AIS 3 (3) is concerned. One of the discussion thread on Oral Directions in reference to RTI is available here
  4. 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 /]
  5. rtiindia

    RTI for Pension Benefits

    [caption id=attachment_102" align="alignright" width="186] How to get Pension benefit by using RTI[/caption] In one of the finest use of the Right to Information Act, on 08.06.2011 son came to know that his father who died in the year 2004, was already terminated from job 25 years earlier. It is surprising that the Father who was suspended in the year 1979, didn't knew for next 25 years that he was already terminated by his employer without informing him. When the Father died the son asked for releasing the retiral dues of their father in the form of Gratuity, suspension allowance and CPF. The said representation was decided by means of order dated 11.4.2012 and it was said that the son were not entitled for leave encashment, Gratuity and CPF. If the order would have been communicated to the father of the petitioners, then the same would have been put to challenge by him during that time itself. The court stated that "It appears that the said order was never supplied to the father of the petitioners and in absence of which, the same could not be challenged. The impugned order, which has been supplied to the petitioners under the Right to Information Act, also does not indicate that this order is an original order, which was passed against the father of the petitioners. The said order is in the form of information and in absence of any original order on record, it has to be presumed that principles of natural justice were violated and they were not followed and the termination order was passed against the father of the petitioners." RTI for Pension Benefits The Court stated that "On the face of it, the record reveals that service of the father of the petitioners were terminated in utter defiance of the principles of natural justice. The termination order, therefore, is illegal and cannot be sustained in law." The Court decided in favor of son and ordered release of Pension Benefit and in absence of any documents with the opposite parties, who are custodian of the record, an adverse inference was drawn against them too. The court therefore decided that "Writ petition is accordingly allowed and the orders dated 8.6.2011 and 31.12.1981 are hereby quashed. Opposite parties are directed to release the suspension allowance of the father of the petitioner up till 31.12.1981 and after 31.12.1981 the petitioner would be entitled to 25% of the back wages upto 1998, i,e, the date of retirement of the father of the petitioner." Had the RTI Act not into place, do you think son would have ever got to know that his Expired Father was removed from service without holding any enquiry or informing him that he has been removed? The order for 'RTI for Pension' can be downloaded from our main Portal rtiindia.org from here! If you want to use RTI for Pension benefit, please post your query here in our discussion forum. You can also read the discussion thread here about Family Pension and how to write RTI for Pension Benefits.
  6. [caption id=attachment_240" align="alignright" width="203] Private Body under RTI[/caption] Here are few questions raised at our forum regarding Private Body under RTI. You can visit the Tag Private Body here at our forum. Can I seek Information about private residential property? Is DAV Public school under RTI Act 2005 ? Do RTI act applies for private bodies? whether rti act applies on private colleges affiliated by govt. university? RTI for information about a private company Private School under purview of RTI Is right to information act only applicable to government offices or public Authorities? RTI about private nursing home Private Hospital & RTI Private Companies & RTI Can I Use of RTI Act in Private Institutions? The answer to all the above whether information can be obtained from Private Body under RTI lies in the High Court Decision. According to which "all information including information furnished and relating to private bodies available with public authority is covered by Section 2(f) of the RTI Act." Further, information which a public authority can access under any other law from a private body is also ―information‖ under section 2(f). The public authority should be entitled to ask for the said information under law from the private body. Details available with a public authority about a private body are ―information‖ and details which can be accessed by the public authority from a private body are also ―information‖ but the law should permit and entitle the public authority to ask for the said details from a private body." Private Bodies under RTI? Therefore, in all decisions of CIC, this High Court Decision is being quoted. In the recent care by CIC where the appellant had sought information on 8 points relating to Saint Anne School, Jodhpur, the CIC has resorted to the above High Court Decision. A private body need not be a public authority and the said term private body has been used to distinguish and in contradistinction to the term public authority as defined in Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. Thus, information which a public authority is entitled to access, under any law, from private body, is information as defined under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act and has to be furnished. This was stated by CIC in the case where appellant had sought certified copies of salary sheets of teaching and non-teaching staff and was decided that if the information sought by the appellant is accessible to them, under CBSE Affiliation rules, the same may be collected from the school and furnished to the appellant. Now the next steps: How to get information of private entity under RTI? Information under RTI ACT from Private entity: Some important Decisions Read all discussions from our forum regarding Private body under RTI
  7. Apathy at its worst! Like a delayed letter, postman got his delayed justice after being wrongly accused of pocketing Rs 57.60, Umakant Mishra remained suspended from his government job for nearly 30 years. In a story covered by TOI, writes that it took nearly 350 hearings and 29 years for Umakant to prove himself innocent, but the loss he suffered in this period was enormous. Is delay the norm? Be it decisions on #RTI or the delayed justice to postman, we face it everywhere. Why political parties yearning for power did not make this manifesto along with corruption and Price rise? This post is the facebook post extension from here: http://on.fb.me/1jh7s3l and the full story can be read here with TOI. Your opinions?
  8. In most of the cases filed by a citizen for not receiving any reply from Public Information Officer (PIO) of various Departments, the Commission were merely directing the CPIO to provide the information which the complainant had sought instead of deciding the complaints on merits. There can be no dispute that while considering a complaint made under Section 18 of the Act, the Commission cannot direct the concerned CPIO to provide the information which the complainant had sought from him. The Commission has no power, while dealing with a complaint, to direct providing of the information subject- matter of the complaint. Thus Information Commission has no power to send the complaint back. The only order which can be passed by the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, under Section 18 is an order of penalty provided under Section 20. Now in a landmark decision on 28.10.2013 J.K.MITTAL Vs CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION AND ANR, Delhi High Court has quashed the practice of summary disposal of complaints by remanding the matter to First Appellate Authority/ CPIO, without even hearing the complainant or deciding the complaint on merits. So now onwards when you do not receive the reply from CPIO, insert this judgement that "Information Commission has no power to send the complaint back" and add the following link: "CPIO had failed to provide information sought in the application, therefore, the petitioner is filing a complaint before the Central Information Commission or State Information Commissioner under Section 18 read with Section 20 of the Right to Information Act, seeking imposition of penalty against the said CPIO under Section 20 of the Act." Information Commission has no power to send the complaint back Such a power can only be exercised when a Second Appeal in terms of Sub-section (3) of Section 19 is preferred before the Commissioner. The scope of the powers of the Commission under Section 18 of the Act came up for consideration of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Central Information Commissioner vs. State of Manipur 2012(286) E.L.T. 485(S.C.) Section 18 of the Act, to the extent it is relevant provides that it shall be the duty of the Commission to receive and enquire into a complaint from any person who has been refused access to any information requested under the Act or who has not been given a response to a request for information or access to information within the time limits specified under the Act. It is, therefore, obligatory for the Commission to decide such a complaint on merit instead of simply directing the CPIO to provide information which the complainant had sought. If the Commission finds that the CPIO had without reasonable cause refused to receive an application for information or had not furnished information within the prescribed time or had given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information, it is required to impose prescribed penalty upon such a CPIO/SPIO, as the case may be. In the cases covered by Sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the Act, the Commission is also required to recommend disciplinary action against the concerned CPIO or SPIO, under the service rules applicable to him. The standard procedure Information Commission has been adopting from quite a long time has been to decide the complaint as: (i) In case no reply has been given by the CPIO to the Complainant to his RTI- request dated 14.2.2012 CPIO should furnish a reply to the Complainant within two weeks of receipt of this order. (ii) In case CPIO has already given a reply to the Complainant in the matter, he should furnish a copy of his reply to the Complainant within one week of receipt of this order.” It is learnt that nearly 8600 matters have been summarily disposed by the CIC in recent years out of which more than 4000 have been disposed off by Information Commissioner Information Commissioner. In the present case of J.K.MITTAL Vs CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION AND ANR, the same thing happened. Sh. J.K. Mittal filed an application dated 4th February, 2012 before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of Central Excise & Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) seeking certain information. Alleging that the CPIO had failed to provide information sought in terms of the aforesaid application, the petitioner filed a complaint before the Central Information Commission under Section 18 read with Section 20 of the Right to Information Act, seeking imposition of penalty against the said CPIO under Section 20 of the Act. The court has decided that "As regards, the grievance expressed by the petitioner that the Commission, despite its attention being drawn to the above referred decision of the Apex Court continues, while considering a complaint under Section 18 of the Act, to direct the concerned CPIO to provide information instead of deciding the complaint on merits, it is expected that the Commission henceforth will decide the complaints on merits instead of directing the CPIO to provide the information which the complainant had sought. Of course, it would be open to the Commission to give such a direction while entertaining a second appeal under Sub- section (3) of Section 19 of the Act." Citation: J.K.MITTAL Vs CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION AND ANR Decision Number: W.P.© No.6755.12 dated 28.10.2013 Download: Click here to download the decision Forum Discussion Thread: Del H.C. quashes practice of summary disposal of complaints by CIC and remanding them back
  9. For information on Companies don't use RTI instead use Section 610 of the Companies (Central Government's) General Rules & Forms, 1956. The said rules being statutory in nature and specific in their application, do not get overridden by the rules framed under the RTI Act with regard to prescription of fee for supply of information, which is general in nature, and apply to all kinds of applications made under the RTI Act to seek information. It would also be complete waste of public funds to require the creation and maintenance of two parallel machineries by the ROC one under Section 610 of the Companies Act, and the other under the RTI Act to provide the same information to an applicant. It would lead to unnecessary and avoidable duplication of work and consequent expenditure. The above was already ruled by Hon'ble High Court in the matter of ROC Vs Dharmendra Kumar Garg (W.P.© 11271/2009) dated 1.6.2012. The appellant filed an RTI application dated 3.12.2011 seeking information on (12) points relating to Ambuja Cement Ltd. Like no. of employees working in accounts department during the period Jan 1990 to Dec 1990, full particulars of employee of accounts department who have been voluntarily retired/resigned/terminated, details of direct or indirect assistance received from Central/State Govt., documents with respect to registration of Company etc. . The CPIO vide letter dated 12.12.2011 provided a point wise reply to the appellant. Not satisfied with the reply the appellant filed first appeal dated 16.12.2011 which was rejected by the order dated 30.12.2011. For information on Companies don't use RTI The respondent submits that as per the provisions of section 610 of the Companies Act, 1956, the records of the companies maintained by this office is available for physical inspection to any member of public on all the working days of this office in between 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM and also the online inspection of records of the companies is also available on the website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs www.mca.gov.in. Citing the above High Court order, CIC ruled that "In view of the submissions of the respondent the available information can be inspected as per section 610 of the Companies Act, the Commission finds no reason to interfere with the order of the CPIO and the appeal is accordingly disposed off." Please read the numerous discussions on "Company Information" at our forum and get more information.
  10. [caption id=attachment_137" align="alignright" width="300] Access to Information from other Ministry[/caption] Access to Information from one Government organisation is a simple step process. But can you access information of one Ministry from another? The Answer is 'Yes'. Government Ministries frequently refer the matter to other Ministries either for specialised inputs or for seeking approvals. Other times it is mandatory for a Government Department/ Ministry to forward the file to other Ministry. For example a file meant to creation of Posts is referred to DoPT and Ministry of Finance for seeking inputs and then for approvals. Similarly an Expenditure Finance Commission (EFC) proposal is sent to various ministries for consultation before it is put up before the Cabinet for approval. In most of the cases the whole documents are forwarded to other Ministries and sometimes it is the self contained note. If the Single File System is followed, then invariably the whole file is sent. Whatever be the case, it is for sure that other Ministries keep the Internal file for the Inter-Ministerial consultation and / or create shadow file. In a regular Ministry, once a file is received, the receiving Ministry create an Internal file and bring most of the facts into it. Once it is approved, the decision to it is conveyed in the original file stating the decision and that it has been approved by the competent authority. Similarly, most of the contracts and issues involving legal vetting, the whole file is sent to Department of Legal Affairs (DLA) for opinion. Most of the time, the DLA keeps a shadow file and copy of the advise given. Therefore, all such cases where Inter-Ministerial consultation and referencing has been done, there are both Internal file corresponding to the main file and also a shadow file of the main file. In such cases the question arises, can one have access to information relating to other Ministry? There is a very informative post available on our discussion forum here regarding this subject. The decision of High Court has been produced in this reference there, which is quoted as below: The Court Decision on Access to Information The words "held by‟ or "under the control of‟ under Section 2(j) will include not only information under the legal control of the public authority but also all such information which is otherwise received or used or consciously retained by the public authority in the course of its functions and its official capacity. There are any numbers of examples where there is no legal obligation to provide information to public authorities, but where such information is provided, the same would be accessible under the Act. For example, registration of births, deaths, marriages, applications for election photo identity cards, ration cards, pan cards etc. Thus it is clear that indeed one can have access to information of one Ministry from other Ministry PIO. If you have the access to information by using this method, kindly share it with our community here!
  11. [caption id=attachment_89" align="alignright" width="300] Court ask the petitioner to use RTI Act.[/caption] Now Court has suggested petitioner to use RTI Act to get information than approaching High Court. In the present case, the Petitioner has rushed to Court with request to direct the respondents to provide necessary information as is required vide his representation dated 18.3.2013. Court ruled that Representation is not a statutory one and as such this Court is not entertaining the request as has been made. However, in case petitioner desires to get information, then he can always approach the authority concerned under Right to Information Act, 2005, and in case any such application is moved, then same be decided in accordance with law. The decision of the court can be downloaded from here! It is felt that RTI Act in India is taking roots as High Court says to use RTI Act. What do you think?
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