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Can a PIO or a OIC apply under RTIA 2005 ?


karira

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karira

1. I received a email from a member of this forum asking if a PIO (Person of

Indian Origin) card holder can make a application under the Right to Information Act.

 

The MHA website states that a PIO card holder shall have:

 

(iv) Parity with NRIs in respect of all facilities available to the later in the economic, financial and educational fields except in maters relating to the acquisition of agricultural/ plantation properties. No parity shall be allowed in the sphere of political rights.

(The spelling mistake is not mine, I just copied and pasted)

(http://www.mha.nic.in/oci/chart.pdf'>http://www.mha.nic.in/oci/chart.pdf)

 

As per my understanding, RTI is not Economic, Financial or Educational. Neither is it Political right.

 

So can a PIO card holder use RTI ?

 

 

2. While we are on the subject, can members also clarify, if a OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) or a Dual Citizenship holder, can use RTI ?

 

The MHA website says about OCI:

 

(iii) Parity with Non resident Indians (NRIs) in respect of economic, financial and educational fields except in relation to acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties. No parity shall be allowed in the sphere of political rights. Any other benefits to OCIs will be notified by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) under Section 7B(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

 

(http://www.mha.nic.in/oci/chart.pdf)

 

Which is basically same as the PIO card holder's rights with the addition of "Any other benefits to OCIs will be notified by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) under Section 7B(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955."

 

Thanks

Karira

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1. I received a email from a member of this forum asking if a PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card holder can make a application under the Right to Information Act.

 

2. While we are on the subject, can members also clarify, if a OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) or a Dual Citizenship holder, can use RTI ?

Karira

PIO (Person of Indian Origin) can seek information under Section 4 alone. If he applies for info under Section 6, it can be turned down under Section 3 only if the CPIO/SPIO is smart enough.

 

OCI can seek information under both Section 4 & Section 6.

 

Manoj

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karira

Manoj,

 

I cannot understand your answer clearly.

Can you please elaborate and also give justifications for your interpretations so that other members can also read and opine.

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Manoj,

 

I cannot understand your answer clearly.

Can you please elaborate and also give justifications for your interpretations so that other members can also read and opine.

 

Information under Section 4 of the Act has to be kept in Public Domain i.e. notice boards, websites etc. Information on the PA, the budget, plans, names and details of PIO etc. are covered under this section. This information can been seen by almost any body, even those who are not citizens of India. This means almost anybody come and seek information which are listed in this section.

 

Section 3 states that all Citizens of India have right to information.

 

Application for information which is not covered under Section 4 has to be requested under Section 6. This will include file notings, letters, correspondences, FAX messages, plans, reports etc. except those that fall under excemption category as listed in Section 8 & Schedule II. Majority of the information requested by us fall in this criteria. Only citizens can ask for this information.

 

Manoj

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karira

Manoj,

 

Thanks for your detailed explanation.

 

Actually, I was on another track of thinking.

 

There are 5 categories:

 

- Indian Citizen

- NRI

- PIO

- PIO Card Holder

- OCI

 

No issues on the first two categories.

 

I wanted a clarification whether PIO Card Holder and OCI can use the RTI ACT as much as a Indian Citizen.

 

To me, the answer is yes. Because both have the same rights as citizens except for Political Rights. Applying under the RTI Act is not a political activity.

 

In any case, when anyone applies under the RTI Act 2005, he can do it in person or by post. If he looks like a Indian , who will ever ask him for proof of citizenship ?

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Manoj,

 

I wanted a clarification whether PIO Card Holder and OCI can use the RTI ACT as much as a Indian Citizen.

 

To me, the answer is yes.

 

In any case, when anyone applies under the RTI Act 2005, he can do it in person or by post. If he looks like a Indian , who will ever ask him for proof of citizenship ?

 

No doubt, OCI qualifies to be citizen of India. Technically PIO Card Holders do not. PIO Card Holders would be citizens of another country. They may be individuals whose fore fathers were originally Indians. It would be difficult for these to get information under Section 6.

 

PIOs of Indian embassies are no fools. They are far better trained and well informed. They will ask for proof etc. Well if PIO Card Holders indeed manage to get information, I have nothing against that.

 

Regarding your query about who can or will ever ask him for proof of citizenship, any PIO, even those in India, who have doubts can demand proof of citizenship from any applicant. Most PIOs are polite and modest, so they dont ask. In case any PIO does ask, there is nothing in the act, that can stop him from doing so. The applicant will have to comply and provide the proof of citizenship.

 

Manoj

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compuser1973

I frankly think such a rstriction in the letter of the law is pretty meaningless and I have several reasons to do so:

 

1. more and more Indians are taking up citizenships of other countries, becoming OCIs and then residing in India. If application comes from within India - not a whole lot of PIOs are likely to seek proof of citizenship. Many of these OCIs will have a birth certificate from India too and not many will have passports (the only document which authentically proves your citizenship)

 

2. It will not be difficult to find a "citizen" to file a request on a non-citizen's behalf to get the necessary information.

 

3. Since most of "security" related info is exempt from RTI anyways - it does not make much sense to block remainder of the information.

 

4. Resident non-citizens who also pay taxes have as much a vested interest in efficient functioning of govt. as with citizens.

 

This is one piece of law I think comes out of typical "babu" style of thinking. It is high time we realize we are fast becoming a global society. A comparable FOIA in the US does not need you to be a US citizen. I am not familiar with any other similar acts in other countries - may be others can elaborate.

 

regards,

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It is high time we realize we are fast becoming a global society. A comparable FOIA in the US does not need you to be a US citizen. I am not familiar with any other similar acts in other countries - may be others can elaborate.

 

regards,

 

Except on the part that a passport "the only document which authentically proves your citizenship" in Point 1, rest of your points 1 to 4 are correct. Kindly check The Citizenship Act 1955 for more details.

 

A recent survey in US showed that over 90% of printed papers are discarded the same day it was printed, even though very few printing takes places. Most of the communications are either vocal through voice mail or digital. As such, less of Government money is used in such countries. On the contrary, India is different. For each copy of communication printed and signed for despatch, there are at least half a dozen copies printed as file copy, Head Of Office Copy, Accounts Section Copy, DFA etc. You have to change this office procedure first.

 

Further, you may be paying Rs.2/- for each copy of printed paper you receive under the RTI Act. However, the Government itself would be spending Rs.200/- behind each paper in "that" file. So its no point in comparing other countries and their laws with that of India.

 

Manoj

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compuser1973
Except on the part that a passport "the only document which authentically proves your citizenship" in Point 1, rest of your points 1 to 4 are correct. Kindly check The Citizenship Act 1955 for more details.

 

I was speaking in "practical" terms - not necessarily technically.

 

A recent survey in US showed that over 90% of printed papers are discarded the same day it was printed, even though very few printing takes places. Most of the communications are either vocal through voice mail or digital. As such, less of Government money is used in such countries. On the contrary, India is different. For each copy of communication printed and signed for despatch, there are at least half a dozen copies printed as file copy, Head Of Office Copy, Accounts Section Copy, DFA etc. You have to change this office procedure first.

 

Further, you may be paying Rs.2/- for each copy of printed paper you receive under the RTI Act. However, the Government itself would be spending Rs.200/- behind each paper in "that" file. So its no point in comparing other countries and their laws with that of India.

 

Manoj

 

I am not sure how this logic applies to being a citizen or non-citizen. Just FYI, having worked on a lot of US govt. contracts - paper retention in US govt. offices is just as bad as in our own.... surveys probably targeted more private businesses than the govt.

 

So I still stand by my assertion that the citizenship requirement came entirely out of GoI babus' heads and from a practical point f view is pretty much useless.

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narayanvarma

May i add one new angle to this discussion.Sec. 3 refers to citizen,but section 6 reads"Aperson.......shall makes a request in ............ Thus aright to make application is linked to person and not citizen.Same true for Sec.19 also.PL. see recent famous order of chief CIC inJ.C. Talukdar's case dated17-5-2007. even company or firm can apply.Then why not Pio etc

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karira

Just an update.

The "Person of Indian Origin" applied under RTI and also informed in his application that he is a PIO card holder. His application was accepted by the Public Information Officer.

Lets see what happens when 30 days are up.

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narayanvarma

I am still awaiting someone to comment on my angle as it is very important issue and needs to be interacted.

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karira

Narayanvarma,

 

You have correctly pointed out re "citizen" and "person".

But the question will be which section over rules the other.

 

Regarding company, association, samity, etc applying under RTI Act, it is very confusing. Someone pointed out (in another thread) that it all depends on which IC hears the appeal.

 

I am going by the definition of "PIO" and "OCI" as given by the Home Ministry and the rights they have within India.

 

Many other countries , which have similar acts, do not state that only "citizens" are allowed to apply.

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abhaypatil
Narayanvarma,

 

You have correctly pointed out re "citizen" and "person".

But the question will be which section over rules the other.

 

 

My interpretation too is based on the reference to "person" rather than "citizen" in the law text. I believe OCI can definitely apply for the information.

 

Just in case- there is another thing in RTI law-that is- no person seeking information under RTI could be prosecuted in the court of law unless it is proven that the intention is malicious. So one can definitely seek information without any worries about being on the wrong side of the law.

Abhay

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May i add one new angle to this discussion.Sec. 3 refers to citizen,but section 6 reads"Aperson.......shall makes a request in ............ Thus aright to make application is linked to person and not citizen.Same true for Sec.19 also.

 

Let us stop beating round the bush on this issue. The Person, Citizen and Individual clauses were the bone of contention during the 2nd panel discussion during the First RTI Convention conducted by CIC at Vigyan Prasar last year. Er Sarbajit Roy had the last word on this clause.

 

As such, group members may kindly refer to my original reply at Sl.No.2 above.

 

Best wishes

 

Manoj

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narayanvarma

mr. M.PAI: IT IS NOT AROUND BUSH BUT VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE. MR.KARIRA made good point ,i learnt a new angle,mr.ABHAYPATIL agreed with what i posted. amongst few major confusions or contraversies under RTI ACT this is one which needs interactions from us. other day i was discussing this point and concept of 'SUBSTANCIALLY FINANCED' with chief of RTI cell of YASHADA and he found the issues very important for widening and smooth operation of RTI.:cool::):):):):)

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Some topic started in this forum long ago , comes back into the news again.

At least the Kolkata High Court has agreed that OC'sI can apply for information under RTI. If that is the case, I come back to my original contention...that even Person of Indian Origin (PIO) can apply under RTI.

Will be interesting to see the final outcome !

 

NRI moves apex court challenging denial of information

 

 

New Delhi, Dec 12 - The Supreme Court will hear Thursday a petition challenging the denial of information under the new Indian transparency law to a US-based non-resident Indian on the grounds that he was not an Indian citizen but only an Overseas Citizen of India.

 

The plea filed by medical practitioner and AIDS expert Kunal Shaha, working at the Ohio University in the US, will be heard by a bench of Justice A.B. Sinha and Justice H.S. Bedi.

 

Shaha has moved the apex court challenging an August 2007 ruling of a division bench of the Calcutta High Court, dismissing his plea seeking information on a probe by the West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) into the alleged negligence by some city doctors in treating his wife in 1998.

 

According to the petition filed by the Shaha's counsel R. Venkataraman, Anuradha Shaha, a child psychologist, had developed an allergic skin condition, which results in the peeling of the skin.

 

The petition said this disease is treated with a medicine known as Depomedral, which is administered between in doses of 40mg to 80mg a week, while the doctors treating her in Kolkata in April 1998 had administered at least 80 mg of it twice a day.

 

This, according to international medical experts, resulted in Anuradha's death, alleged Shaha, who subsequently lodged a complaint with the WBMC against the erring doctors, accusing them of gross medical negligence.

 

Meanwhile, under a new Indian law, Shaha became an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI).

 

As the WBMC kept dithering on his plea to provide him the requisite information under the two-year-old Right to Information Act, he approached the Calcutta High Court seeking a direction to the medical panel.

 

But a single-judge bench of the high court dismissed the plea saying he was not entitled to information under the Right to Information Act, as he was not an Indian citizen when he sought the information and the benefit of the law on dual citizenship could not be granted to him with retrospective effect.

 

Shaha challenged the single-judge bench's ruling before a division bench, which too dismissed his petition.

 

After the high court's rulings, the WBMC too informed Shaha that he was not entitled to the information under the Right to Information Act, 2005, as he was not an Indian Citizen.

 

It is against this communication of the WBMC and the high court's rulings that Shaha has come to the apex court.

 

NRI moves apex court challenging denial of information : India World

 

 

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Overseas Indian Citizens entitled to info under RTI Act: SC

 

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court opined that an Overseas Indian Citizen (OIC) is entitled to seek information from the authorities under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

 

A bench of Justices S B Sinha and H S Bedi asked Kunal Saha, an OIC from the US to move a fresh application by citing his OIC status before the Medical Council of India (MCI), Kolkata branch for seeking information on the inquiry report pertaining to his wife's death.

 

Earlier, two doctors were convicted by a court in Alipore (in Kolkata) for their alleged medical negligence relating to the death of Kunal Saha's wife Anuradha, a paediatrician who was suffering from a rare skin disease.

 

However, the Calcutta High Court acquitted the doctors of the charges following which he filed an appeal in the apex court.

 

During the pendency of the SLP, Saha under the Right To Information Act (RTI) sought the report of the inquiry committee appointed by the MCI to probe Anuradha's death, which was declined by the regulatory body on the ground that as an NRI, he was not entitled to it.

 

Overseas Indian Citizens entitled to info under RTI Act: SC -India-The Times of India

 

 

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Overseas Indian Citizens entitled to info under RTI Act: SC

 

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court opined that an Overseas Indian Citizen (OIC) is entitled to seek information from the authorities under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

 

Overseas Indian Citizens entitled to info under RTI Act: SC -India-The Times of India

 

 

I am glad that my view is on this subject is shared by the Supreme Court. (Pl check Post No.2 in this thread)

 

Humbly yours

 

Manoj

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Going by the Rights of a OCI, even a PIO Card holder should be allowed to apply under RTI, since the rights of both are the same as per MHA website.

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1. more and more Indians are taking up citizenships of other countries, becoming OCIs and then residing in India. If application comes from within India - not a whole lot of PIOs are likely to seek proof of citizenship.

 

I'm an Indian citizen, US PR, and was required to satisfy each of my PAs (RBI and SEBI) of my citizenship before they would touch my case. In my case I filed my requests thru the Indian Consulate in NYC. Still RBI made me fax and mail my passport pages a couple of times before they were adequately satisfied.

 

But I agree it's generally not a big or problematic requirement. Folks who ask me regularly about my RTI efforts to get data for academic research, include many who have similar interests (especially to compare India with other places). Some are in India; some, in the US. Some are desi citizens; some are not. Once the data becomes publicly available, it will be available to all. So it hardly matters if the applicant is a desi citizen. Best, -Murgie

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I have made a Complaint under Sec 18 against the Embassy of India, Washington DC, USA since they carry a statement on their website that :

 

It may be noted that information provided under the Act is available to citizens of India only.

 

The Complaint is available in the Directory segment: Complaint under Sec 18 against Embassy of India Washington DC - OCI & PIO Card holder - RTI Directory

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karira

In response to the above Complaint to CIC (please see post # 24 above), the EoI, Washington DC has given its comments to the CIC.

 

It is attached to this post.

 

My reply to the comments is also attached to this post.

Comments from Rahul Chabbra OCI-PIO-Indian nationals.doc

Response to comments from Rahul Chaabra - OCI PIO Indian Nationals.doc

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colnrkurup

The point at issue is "Has anyone who is not a cityzen of India in every respect the Right to information under the Right to Information Act 2005" ? The answer is 'NO'. With the type of unscruplulous appeasement politics and corruption prevelent in India, one can get any information including the top secret information or those exempted under Section 8 and 9 FOR A CONSIDERATION from the right contact. That does not mean that he is entitled to get it. So is the ignorance or wisdom of certain babus and vindictiveness of some other. These hypothetical exceptions does not nullify the explicit provisions of the Act.

 

Section 3 of the RTI Act leave no doubt. "Right to Information" - Subject to the provisions of this Act, all cityzens shall have the right to information" That is the end.

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