Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Stretching the Right to Information Act

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 20, 2006

Stretching the Right to Information Act


Narendra Kaushik

New Delhi: The Right to Information Act (RTIA), legislated to usher transparency in governance, check corruption and foster public interest is being used by vested interests to fix rivals, bag contracts, blackmail companies, seek employment and promotion or undermine investigations against themselves.

“People are misusing the Act. We’ve identified a number of appellants who frequent the commission to get information for vested interest,” says Information Commissioner Prof M M Ansari citing the case of an appellant who regularly turned up in the commission with a motive to blackmail Public Sector Units (PSUs).

Ansari claimed that the said appellant was running over 40 websites and had filed about 30 cases against PSUs, which did not advertise on his websites. The appellant blackmailed the PSUs by asking for details of use of their guest houses, foreign travel of their officials, their cars and other expenses.

N Anbarasan, a software vendor based in Bangalore, wanted information about a website run by NIC Bangalore.  However, NIC said he was a competitor. The Central Information Commission (CIC) found this to be true and denied his appeal.

In another case, P K Sharma of Panchkula, Haryana sought access to certain bank accounts that had been reported to the Central Vigilance Commission and the Central Bureau of Investigation. The CIC disallowed the appeal saying that the information was about a third party.

An examination of CIC orders pronounced in the last fortnight revealed that an overwhelming majority of the appeals pertained to denial of employment, promotions, contracts, tenders or sought details of rival business groups or cases lodged with anti-corruption agencies. There are also the cases of surrogate appeals.

Ansari said that frivolous applications was something the commission could not help.


3 Responses to “Stretching the Right to Information Act”

  1. V Malik said

    While there are, no doubt, a small percentage of people who would be using the RTI Act for nefarious purposes, and a large percentage of people who would be using the RTI Act for internal departmental kind of issues, truth is that the real public interest applications bring enough value to the table to obviate the rest.

    After all, what is frivolous? A young lady denied 4000/- and odd rupees by CGHS may appear frivolous to the Ministry which spends 1000s of crores, but the RTI Act getting her the information which helps her to get the reimbursement – for her it is great.

    Likewise, the pilferage of service tax may impact individuals to a few rupees every day, but bringing out the truth through the RTI Act is a service to the Nation.

    Give the RTI Act some more time to mature before pre-judging what is “frivolous” or not.

  2. Manoj k. kamra said


    Publically,Blaming RTI misusers by Prof. Ansari is not new.Last month,in interview with zeenews,he denounced majority of people of poor analysis of rti.

    In reply to my email on INDIARTI yahoogroup on 19 May, on that aspect(reproduced below),notice his derogatory remarks about me and other rti (mis)users.—–“you are not alone who are in the garb of public interest seeking personal or cofidential or third party information for promotion of personal intersts”
    In INDIARTI@yahoogroups.com, “Prof. M.M . Ansari”
    wrote: I would love to receive comments and healthy criticisms of our decisions. But, I am constrained to say that you are not alone who are in the garb of public interest seeking personal or cofidential or third party information for promotion of personal intersts. I can easily make out from the perusal of papers submitted to us. One cannot ask for information that are clearly barred under the Act and that without establishing the case for human rights violations or corruption. One should not feel shy in making the case, if any.
    A careful perusal of many pettitions we have dealt with will show how some people are misusing RTI for personal non-economic gains. such people are surely unhappy with our disposals on one pretext or the other.

    What are personal gains,non economic gains which the rti misusers are seeking for ? only Prof. Ansari knows better.

    with regards
    Manoj K.Kamra

  3. N. Anbarasan said

    The following are based on the above report, with respect to my request for information to NIC which was reportedly quoted by the Information Commissioner Prof M M Ansari:

    The Central Information Commission has utterly failed in uplifting the spirit of the RTI Act 2005 while disposing my appeal to the Central Information Commission.

    The Central Information Commission has not even verified the matter of facts but just carried by the influence of the officers of NIC.

    The Central Information Commission has not even bothered to intimate date of next hearing when the hearing was postponed for unknown reasons.

    The central information commission has misconceived my request only based on the influences of NIC.

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