Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Groups, societies? No Right to Information – Mumbai citizen realises the hard way that only queries from individuals are entertained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 22, 2006

Groups, societies? No Right to Information

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/nmirror/mmpaper.asp?sectid=2&articleid=6222006225712816222006225630640#

Mumbai citizen realises the hard way that only queries from individuals are entertained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act

Narendra Kaushik

New Delhi: A Mumbai citizen was denied information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act because he had made the application in his position as honorary secretary of a co-operative housing society.

He was told by the Central Information Commission (CIC) that as per Section 3 of the RTI, which says that ‘all citizens shall have the right to information’, only queries from individuals can be entertained.

Powai resident Shashi Kumar Nanda described the ruling as ‘unfair and illogical’.

BANK DENIES INFO

Nanda, who worked with Air India and other organisations before his retirement, had written to the Cuffe Parade branch of Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) Limited seeking information about a loan it had given to Major (retired) Rajesh Dhankar, a member of his housing society.

Nanda alleged that Major Dhankar obtained the loan on the basis of a ‘fabricated and forged letter of NoC (No objection Certificate) purportedly issued by the society’. Among other things, he sought a copy of the NoC submitted by Dhankar and wanted to know the amount of loan sanctioned by the bank.

The bank gave Nanda a copy of the NoC, but declined to give him the other documents saying the information sought did not relate to the activities of the bank and Nanda had not applied in his individual capacity.

NANDA WRITES TO CIC

After writing to IDBI 15 times, Nanda wrote to the CIC on February 27 this year complaining of denial of information.

The CIC, headed by a former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah, has five commissioners. One of them, Prof M M Ansari, wrote back to Nanda upholding the bank's argument.

In his June 6 order on Nanda's appeal, Ansari said, “An information, which is due to the public actions, and, if available with the office of the CPIO (Central Public Information Officer), should be given provided that the information seeker is a citizen, under Section 3 of the Act.”

“(Individual) Citizens alone have access to information. Institutions have other avenues to get whatever information they want,” Ansari explained while speaking to Mumbai  Mirror.

THE RULE

Section 3 of the RTI says that ‘all citizens shall have the right to information’ subject to the provisions of this Act. The Act is silent on the right of societies, associations, groups and institutions to information.

• (Individual) Citizens alone have access to information. Institutions have other avenues to get whatever information they want— Prof M M Ansari, a commissioner in the Central Information Commission

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