Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Archive for the ‘CIC Rulings’ Category

RTI survives another attack :: Jan 29th 2007.

Posted by rtiact2005 on January 30, 2007


RTI survives another attack :: Jan 29th 2007.

Aloke Tikku and Chetan Chauhan
New Delhi
Jan 29th, 2007
Hindusthan Times E paper

A QUIET second attempt to maul your right to information has been put down. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has tossed out the government view that individual commissioners had no powers to decide appeals and issue directions to government bodies, saying this interpretation would make the law “meaningless”. “No such interpretation can ever be accepted which will make the Act, which confers the right on a citizen to access information, totally unworkable,” a full bench of the commission headed by Wajahat Habibullah held on Monday, staving off the second attempt by the department of personnel and training (DoPT) to take the sting out of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. RTI campaigners Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia welcomed the CIC ruling. “DoPT’s reading of the law had the potential to kill the appeals procedure,” said Kejriwal, a Magsaysay awardee.

The CIC also upheld public access to file notings under the law and rejected the contention that the commission had no powers to tell the department of personnel and training to remove a misleading portion of its website. “No public authority, government or statutory organisation can ever claim that it is above the law,” the commission held in its 25-page decision that asserted the autonomous character of the CIC.

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CIC ruling::Shri D.N.Sahu v/s Land & Development Office, Ministry of Urban Development

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 10, 2006

(Right to Information Act – Section 19)
Dated: 9/5/2006
Name of Applicant : Shri D.N.Sahu
Name of Public Authority : Land & Development Office, Ministry of Urban Development, Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi



Shri D.N.Sahu (hereinafter referred to as “Appellant”) submitted an application under the Right to Information Act seeking certain information from Land & Development Officer, CPIO, Nirman Bhawan. His application was rejected by the CPIO on the ground that the information has been requested not by an individual citizen but on behalf of Resident Welfare Association, Pushp Vihar. His appeal petition before the first Appellate Authority was also rejected on the same grounds.

Hence the appeal.

In his appeal petition, the appellant has contended that office bearers of any society or company are not barred under the law to seek information from the public authority and that his request for information was as a citizen of the country and that he had merely used the letter head of the Society/Association of which he is one of the office bearers and as such, denial of information in his case is contrary to the provisions of the Right to Information Act.

The appellant has, therefore, prayed that the concerned CPIO be directed to provide the information and that a penalty should also be imposed on him u/s 20(1) 2 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 as the denial of information in this case has been willful.

The following issues are framed:

1. Whether a Society or a Company is entitled to seek information under the Right to Information Act?

2. Whether the appellant filed the application in his individual capacity or on behalf of Society/Association?

3. What relief, if any, can be granted to the appellant?


1. Insofar as the first issue is concerned, an Association or a Company is not and cannot be treated as a citizen even though it may have been registered or incorporated in the country. A natural born person can only be a citizen of India under the provisions of Part-II of the Constitution. Section 3 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 gives the right to information to all citizens. Thus, it is quite clear that a person who is not a citizen cannot claim this right. The issue is decided accordingly.

2. Insofar as the second issue is concerned, from the records, it appears that the appellant has submitted the application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 in his individual capacity, signing no doubt as President of his association, but not for a separate entity.

3. From the records, it also appears that requested information has been furnished to the applicant by the CPIOs, Deputy Director, Directorate of Estates and Executive Engineer (Headquarters) CPWD vide letters dated 17th and 19th January, 2006, copies whereof have been annexed at 3 Annexures ‘F’ and ‘G’ of the Appeal. The Appellate Authority also in its order dated 17.1.2006 has stated that the applicant can still seek the information in his individual capacity as a citizen. Although the Act guarantees right to information only to a citizen, in the instant case, the appellant is seeking information on behalf of other members of the Association, or simply a group of citizens, not a body corporate. The basic objective of the Act is to give information, rather than to withhold or deny a right recognized by other CPIOs in the ambit of the same Ministry of Urban Development. The CPIO is, therefore, directed to provide the requested information. Since delay has taken place, albeit, without any fault from the side of CPIO/AA, the information may be given free of charge.

Since the delay has evidently occurred through an interpretation of the law now held invalid, the CPIO can be construed to have acted in god faith. Under the circumstances, question of imposing penalty does not arise as per Sec 21 Copy of the decision notice be given to all parties free of cost.

(Wajahat Habibullah)
Chief Information Commissioner,
Dated: 9.8.2006

Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against application and payment of the charges prescribed under the Act to the CPIO of this Commission.

Director (Law) and Additional Registrar

Posted in CIC Rulings | 1 Comment »

RTI power: Woman gets dead son’s records

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 4, 2006

RTI power: Woman gets dead son’s records
[ 4 Aug, 2006 1524hrs ISTPTI ]

NEW DELHI: A 70-year-old woman from Haryana has used the Right To Information Act to gain access to file notings regarding the pension and other benefits of her son, a Delhi Traffic Police constable who was killed in a road accident over five years ago.

Laxmi Devi of Bhiwani district in Haryana had appealed to the Central Information Commission (CIC) for gaining access to file notings made by authorities on her son’s dossier regarding the payment of terminal benefits totalling about Rs four lakh and his family pension.

The CIC’s ruling giving her access comes amidst a controversy over a government proposal to amend the RTI Act to prevent the public from viewing most file notings.

The septuagenarian, who was entirely dependent on her son Anoop Singh, was left penniless after his death on January 29, 2001 as her daughter-in-law Mamta, who received all the benefits and was drawing the family pension, re-married in August 2005, her petition said.

The benefits were stopped following Mamta’s re-marriage. This was despite the fact that Laxmi Devi was listed as the legal nominee of her son in his records from the date of his death to December two last year, the petition said.

“The appellant’s (Laxmi Devi) interest is direct and legitimate. Documents connected with pension settlement and terminal benefits of her deceased son may be accessed by her,” the CIC said in its order dated July 13, 2006.

The CIC further directed the Joint Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police (CPIO) of Delhi Traffic Police, both made parties in the petition, to file a compliance report within two weeks of its order.

The Commission allowed Laxmi Devi to access a letter written by Mamta to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, asking him to stop the family pension following her re-marriage.

The Delhi Traffic Police and the CPIO had earlier turned down Laxmi Devi’s appeal to inspect the letter on the ground that it was “personal information” and the matter was sub judice.

Taking a different view, the CIC directed Delhi Traffic Police to permit Laxmi Devi to check any papers related with the public authority’s interaction with her daughter-in-law and to allow her to take copies.

“This is a success story for us. We are also doing a follow-up on whether Laxmi Devi was provided the facility to check the pension files,” a senior CIC official said.

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CIC to release interim on letter

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 4, 2006

CIC to release interim on letter

NDTV Correspondent

Friday, August 4, 2006 (New Delhi):


The Central Information Commission (CIC) is all set to release an interim order on the controversial letter that the then President KR Narayanan had sent to the former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee on the Godhra riots in 2002.

The CIC deals with Right To Information issues.

However, regardless of what the CIC says, NDTV sources say Rashtrapati Bhawan has been advised by the Centre to not make the letter public.

The Centre feels that making the letter public would be a breach of security and privilege because all communication between the Prime Minister and Rastrapati Bhawan is privileged information.

But anticipating the Centre’s objections, the petitioner who had wanted the letter made public, had said that revealing the letter would not compromise security.

Earlier also, when the Nanavati Commission, which was inquiring into the Gujarat riots had asked to see the letter, the Centre had refused on the same grounds.

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Process of selecting judges need not be disclosed

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 2, 2006

Process of selecting judges need not be disclosed

Siddharth Narrain

Some processes are best conducted away from public

  • “Disclosing such information violates fiduciary relationship”
  • No information maintained on caste status of judges

    NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission has ruled that the process of selection of judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts need not be disclosed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

    The decision was taken on July 10 on an application filed on February 13, asking for the copy of “any one recommendation or consultation in the last 10 years” submitted to the President under Article 124 (2) of the Constitution. The provision deals with the appointment of Supreme Court and High Court Judges.

    “The information given by the Chief Justice to the President has been shielded from public gaze over all these years. Coming into force of the RTI Act has raised a question mark over the confidentiality of the process of consultation between the Supreme Court and the President. … Arguably there is merit in the contention that certain processes are best conducted away from the public gaze, for that is what contributes to sober analysis and mature reflection, unaffected by competing pressures and public scrutiny. If there is one process which needs to be so protected, the process of selecting judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court must qualify to be one such,” said Central Information Commissioner A.N. Tiwari.

    Exempted under RTI Act

    The Commission held that that the information collected by the Supreme Court to quip it to discharge its constitutionally ordained role of advising the President regarding who to appoint as judges was in the nature of “personal information provided by a third party” and exempted under Section 11 (1) of the RTI Act. Disclosing such information violated the fiduciary relationship as well as the confidence and trust between the candidates and the Supreme Court, and was exempted from disclosure by Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act.

    Appellant Mukesh Kumar also asked for the number of judges belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the Supreme Court and the High Courts. The Commission held that since the public authority concerned was not required to maintain information regarding the caste status of judges, such information could not be supplied.

    “It was rightly pointed out during the hearing that judges may have objection to a caste census limited to the judges’ fraternity alone. Since no law provides for maintaining information regarding the caste status of the judges, inferentially it can be argued that it would have been objectionable even to maintain such information,” the Commission said.

  • Posted in CIC Rulings | 1 Comment »

    For all those NGOs, groups and other entities trying to score brownie points on File Notings, without bothering to adhere to the RTI Act themselves, I would suggest some further reading:-

    Posted by rtiact2005 on July 26, 2006

    Please have your Suo-Moto declarations under Section 4 ready, yourself, before expecting others to do so.

    From: “Malik, Veeresh” <veereshmalik@gmail.com> ,

    Date:  Wed, 26 Jul 2006

    For all those NGOs, groups and other entities trying to score brownie points on File Notings, without bothering to adhere to the RTI Act themselves, I would suggest some further reading:-



    Appeal: No. CIC/OK/A/2006/00127

    Dated, the 21st July, 2006

    Name of the Appellant :Shri Jehangir B. Gai, Wadia Building, 598-A, Girgaon Road, Mumbai.

    Name of the Public Authority : Bureau of Secondary Education

    Dept. Of Secondary & Higher Education, Ministry of HRD, New Delhi



    Shri Jehangir B. Gai, Mumbai applied to CPIO, Ministry of HRD on 15th February, 2006 seeking information about the status of the application of the New Era School, Mumbai for CISCE affiliation. On 24 March 2006 PIO, Smt. L. Indumathy informed the applicant that the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) is an autonomous body, not answerable to the Ministry of HRD and advised him to contact the CISCE in the matter. He filed his first appeal to Shri S.C. Khuntia, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of HRD on 3rd May, 2006 stating that the reply is incorrect and misleading. The first Appellate Authority dismissed the appeal upholding the view of CPIO. The Appellant then filed his second appeal on 11th May, 2006.

    2. The matter was heard by the Commission on 21st June, 2006. Shri Mahender Kumar, Personnel Officer of CISCE represented the Council with Smt. L. Indumathy and Shri Madan Mohan appeared on the behalf of the Ministry of HRD.


    3. After hearing the submissions of the Respondent the Commission came to the conclusion that prima facie the CISCE is not covered by the definition of a public body since it is neither funded nor controlled by the Government or any other public body. However, going by the definition of the term information under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, which includes ‘information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force’. The Respondents are thus directed to obtain the information from the CISCE within 15 days and supply it to the Appellant within 21 days of the issue of this order.

    4. The Commission ordered accordingly.

    (O.P. Kejariwal), Information Commissioner

    (L.C. Singhi), Additional Registrar

    Posted in CIC Rulings | 2 Comments »

    CIC Trips yet again

    Posted by rtiact2005 on July 20, 2006

    In a significant letdown in what ought to have been a landmark
    decision on importance of Section 4 or RTI ACT, the Chief IC of India
    has fumbled and bumbled yet again in his decision on revealing the
    GAMS database of the Ministry of Urban Development for the public.

    This database is maintained by the Director of Estates in the MoUD and
    is secretly used by the Private Secretary of the Minister Sh. Japial
    Reddy to allocate government accomodation at his whims and fancies
    (read major corruption and power to oblige and favour).

    In fact numerous persons entitled to government accomodation are so
    irked by this latest order of CIC that they are contemplating a writ /
    Contempt petition against him in SC in the infamous L&D matter wherein
    Amar Singh and other non-entitled biggies are squatting in type 7
    houses when they are not getting govt acco. themselves.

    Anyway, the CIC has set 1-Aug as the date for GAMS to be available
    fully to the public – lets wait and see.

    For everyone seriously interested in RTI and this matter, follow this


    From:    Send an Instant Message “sroy1947″ <sroy1947@yahoo.com>

    Date:    Thu, 20 Jul 2006 04:51:17 -0000


    From: Gita Dewan Verma mpisgplanner@yahoo.com

    To: mpisgmedia@architexturez.net

    Subject: [mpisgmedia] MOUD database on govt acco: CIC decision

    Sender: mpisgmedia-bounces@architexturez.net

    Errors-To: mpisgmedia-bounces@architexturez.net

    Nizamuddin ji, Harphool Singh ji, Rajinder and I had
    made a complaint to CIC about govt accomodation data
    held (in Oracle database known as GAMS) by Directorate
    of Estates (DOE) / MOUD not being meaningfully
    accessible in violation of s.4 of RTI Act. Our
    grievance is that the non-transparency directly
    disadvantages those entitled to govt acco in
    especially lower Types and affects all by spawning
    corrupt practices and housing supply distortions.
    In their Comment the Respondents did not address our
    grievance, Grounds, Prayer or Complainants 1 to 3.
    They converted the examples by which the s.4 violation
    was illustrated to my suggestions and said those are
    being incorporated in new website by NIC to be in
    place by July end. I put in a Rejoinder. Hearing was
    on 13 July and the decision was on CIC website by next
    I am very worried CIC has not only not taken a view on
    database access but has also taken the view that it is
    alright if already computerized data has not been made
    accessible even in July 06 and has even cited s.4(2) &
    s.4(3) in support of this.
    I am worried CIC rejected additional prayer - for
    consideration of compensation options for communities
    of Complainants 1 to 3 - on the grounds that it was
    not originally a prayer and that it was not pursued at
    the hearing (even as I think I had excessively pursued
    its rationale, leading to our Ground H being
    reproduced in full in the decision).
    I am also worried by the errors in the text of the
    decision, for which I have requested correction. I
    have also sought information of procedure for seeking
    reconsideration of the complaint.
    Complaint, rejoinder (incl summary of Comments) and
    request about errors are at:
    I am also generally worried by my hearing on 13 July.
    I appreciate that Chief Information Commissioner (who
    took the hearing) is making all efforts to amicably
    resolve all matters and so welcomed the welcoming
    Comments of DOE. But I had vigorously argued ours was
    Complaint and presented its concerns and ALL the
    points in our rejoinder. Yet only some points stand
    out in the decision that seems not to capture our
    Complaint at all.
    I had objected to the Comments ignoring the other
    Complainants altogether (para 2a). Chief even asked
    Respondents to send Comments to them. I had repeatedly
    clarified that my objection to our Complaint being
    viewed as my suggestion was that professional ethics
    forbid use of Complaint procedures to gain
    professional privileges (para 2b). This was after
    Chief asked Respondents to invite me to inspect new
    website when done (me! who needs click-path-finding
    help with even azPlan! for a moment I thought this was
    brilliant planner-jhelo-penalty idea, but quickly
    noticed it was not meant like that). I had pointed out
    we had chosen not to resort to NIC complaint procedure
    but to RTI Complaint procedure because of broader
    issues of s.6 outpacing s.4 (para-2c). NIC
    representative assisting the DOE rep had confirmed NIC
    Complaint procedure.
    I had vehemently objected to the term
    user-friendly-website, which Chief had said was common
    cause of Complainant and Respondents, as something not
    same as RTI Act compliant level of access to data in
    database (para-3). Chief agreed not to use that term.
    I had objected to Respondents saying RTI Act commenced
    in October 05 and pointed out that the illustrative
    anomalies converted to my suggestions could also have
    been fixed in the existing weekly-update procedure
    (para-3a). On this I had argument with DOE rep as to
    whether or not their weekly data was time-stamped. I
    had also said I did not believe they had any
    consultation procedure as their website did not even
    announce the upgrading (para-3b). DOE rep had got a
    bit irritable and said our views on RTI Act compliance
    might not match and I *suggested* they publish on
    their website, to start evolving consensus, what they
    consider RTI Act compliant database access (para-3c).
    I had also said, since NIC rep was present, that I saw
    nothing also on NIC website about that and had made
    the point also to speaker from NIC at recent national
    seminar on open document format.
    I had fussed about our s.4 Grounds not having been
    addressed in Comments. Chief had said he was now
    reading from Grounds and that I had left out in
    quoting from s.4(1) in (A) the phrase about reasonable
    time. I had argued he and I could not debate Grounds
    as Respondents have not opined and we cannot debate
    reasonable-time at all, as that is not in s.4(1) for
    data already computerized, was not plea of Respondents
    who had ample time till Oct 05 and had just said their
    new website will be up in a month or two after having
    said it will be so end July in Comments in which they
    had entirely ignored Complainants 1 to 3 who are
    hugely aggrieved by unreasonable delay, which was a
    Ground, H, in Complaint and reiterated in rejoinder.
    Chief then read Ground H and asked Respondents for
    their view. DOE representative said if we show
    specific cases of mis-allotments action could be
    taken. I said if they show their data we will see and
    show cases.
    I felt trapped into being mean to DOE and NIC. Under
    different circumstances I would have been overjoyed at
    the opportunity to inflict plannerly complaining on
    nerds over their chai-biskut. But I was determined to
    press the s.4 Complaint as that. When Chief referred
    to me as activist, I even said while objecting that I
    had been Senior Feline handling also Estate Management
    R&T for MoUD-HUDCO and could have discussion with
    MoUD-DOE in also that capacity but was before him with
    citizen-n-professional grievance against clear and
    admitted RTI Act violation not for any freewheeling
    activism or career advancement. Since Chief has heard
    me a few times and has made on occasions indulgent
    remarks about how I carry on, I also requested he set
    aside biases if any and view this case in perspective
    of serious s.4 issues. He did say to Respondents that
    I perhaps expected they lead other MOUD agencies in
    s.4 compliance.
    I think what I provoked was not interest in s.4 but
    bafflement about my objection to our Complaint being
    reduced to its examples converted to my suggestions.
    Chief tried to clarify to me a different perspective
    with the example that if someone tells him the
    Commission is slow he views that as suggestion rather
    than complaint. But that only baffled me more. I asked
    how and why he treats grievance as suggestion;
    violation is violation and complaint is complaint, why
    must the complainant be made to feel uncooperative for
    asking for proper action if the points of complaint
    are admitted or feel privileged if admitted points of
    complaints are welcomed as suggestions of the
    complainant...  I figured we had hit one of my
    ossified mental blocks and just had to get out of the
    building to breathe.
    I am terribly disappointed. I hope whatever MOUD-DOE
    is committed to doing by end July brings cheer.

    Posted in CIC Rulings | Leave a Comment »


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