Right to Information – Master key to good governance

‘Govt Policies cannot be questioned through RTI Act’

Posted by rtiact2005 on November 11, 2007

‘Govt Policies cannot be questioned through RTI Act’
New Delhi, PTI:
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that citizens cannot question government policies and plans by utilising the Right to Information Act.

The Commission noted this while dismissing an application filed by a Mumbai resident Amin Merchant who had sought information from Finance Ministry as to why certain tariff policy was framed by the Centre.

“..it is not open to citizens to question the government about why a certain matter was handled in a certain way and not differently. The public authority owes him no explanation,” the Information Commissioner A N Tiwari said.

Merchant, in his application to the Ministry had questioned its policy for not issuing exemption notification against certain goods.

“While RTI Act entitles each citizen to seek and receive information from public authorities, it does not allow them any liberty to seek explanations and reasons from it,” the Commission said adding that such “freewheeling questioning” should not be encouraged.

Holding that the RTI Act is not a proper instrument for seeking such explanation from the government, the Commission said, “No explanation is owed to the appellant (Merchant) by the Centre, which pilots the budget before the Parliament and is answerable only to the Parliament and to no one else.”

“If he is not happy with some of the proposals such persons may even petition the appropriate department of the government or the Parliament or agitate the matter before a Court of law,” the Commission said.



5 Responses to “‘Govt Policies cannot be questioned through RTI Act’”

  1. Bimal KumarKhemani said

    YES I also agree with this decission. No body has the right to misuse the ACT.
    Within the frame every thing or any thing looks good but if it goes beyond that it looks ugly.
    To enjoy our rights under RTI, we must be very cautious and desist ourself from creating nuisance.

    • My Mentor Mr. Khemani is wrong. This is a belated comment. All of please read the following. This is the manner in which I address RTI Applications.

      1. India is a Democratic Republic.

      2. A government in any Democracy is defined as A GOVERNMENT BY A PEOPLE; OF THE PEOPLE & FOR THE PEOPLE.

      3. The government composed of THE JUDICIARY & THE EXECUTIVE.

      4. Hence, people of India are supreme & not the government; as long as people conduct themselves within the framework of Indian Constitution; abide with the law & follow the rules framed therewithin.

      5. Every Law begins with a premise – Ignorentia Juris Non Excusat. i.e. Ignorance of law is not an excuse.

      6. The Supreme Court of India declared in State of Up Vs. Raj Narain & in Peoples Union for Civil Liberties Vs. Union of India, that Right to Information is a facet of the freedom of ‘speech and expression’ as contained in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India & that Right to Information is a Fundamental Right.

      7. The RTI Act 2005 states that it is” “An Act to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, the constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed;”

      8. Hence, Indian Government & its instrumentalities are required to be transparent in their functioning & are accountable to governed in India.

      9. I am one of the governed.

      10. Information means & includes, as per section 2 (f) of R. T. I. Act 2005, information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which, can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force”.

      11. It also states vide section 24, information sought on allegations of corruption & Human Right violations IN ANY PUBLIC AUTHORITY cannot be denied & are not exempted from disclosure by any provision thereto.

      12. You in your capacity as Tehsildar cum Executive Magistrate as well as other functionaries in the Taluk Office headed by you must be transparent in their functioning & be accountable to the governed of whom I am one.

      13. Takuk Office Udupi is a public authority as per section 2(h) of RTI Act 2005.

      14. You & every other functionary in Taluk Office are public servants as per section 21 of Indian Penal Code 1860, The Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 & The Karnataka Lokayukta Act 1984. By virtue of all of this, all of you are required to function as per the following code of conduct & ethics of behavior for public servants.
      (a) Any action or the administrative procedure or practice governing an action by any public servant should not be unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or improperly discriminatory; or
      (b) There should not be willful negligence or undue delay in taking action or the administrative procedure or practice governing such action by public servant should not involve undue delay.
      (c) A public servant while discharging his function should not abuse his position as such public servant to obtain any gain or favour to himself or to any other person or to cause undue harm or hardship to any other person;
      (d) A Public servant should not be actuated in the discharge of his functions as such public servant by personal interest or improper or corrupt motives;
      (e) A public servant should not be guilty of corruption, favouritism, nepotism, or lack of integrity in his capacity as such public servant.

      (f) A public servant should not fail to act in accordance with the norms of integrity and conduct which, ought to be followed by public servants of the class to which he belongs.

      15. Transparency in the functioning of every Public Authority is mandatory by law. Absence of transparency in any public authority manifesting in denial of information sought; concealment of information or providing incorrect or partial or misleading or false information tantamount to disobedience to law. This is apart from the remedy available by RTI Act 2005 of complaint to Information Commission under section 18(1) or appeal under section 19(1) of RTI Act 2005.

      16. By disobedience to law, a public servant is liable for punishment under section 166 of Indian Penal Code 1860.

      17. Absence of transparency offers scope for selective application of rules, exception in application rules, abuse of process & authority, harassment to citizen & Human Right Violations of citizens while implementation of policies, which brings in favouritism, nepotism leading to corruption.

      18. Absence of transparency is disobedience to law which tantamount to violation of law & violation of law by any public servant renders that public servant liable for punishment under section 166 of Indian Penal Code 1860.

      19. The Constitution of India confers upon its citizens certain fundamental & human rights. The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 reaffirms this & requires every public servant to respect Human Rights guaranteed to Citizens of India of which Right to Property is one too. Violation of Human Rights renders that/those public servant/s liable for punishment under that Act if found guilty.

      20. Section 7(1) of RTI act 2005-Disposal of request- states that on receipt of application for information under this act as per section 6(1) shall be expeditiously provided and in any case not later than within 30 days of receipt of request. Despite proviso of section 5(2) the intention of the law makers is not to provide a blanket time of 30 days for providing information sought.

      21. Transparency in functioning of any public authority that is mandatory by law, require that public authority acknowledge receipt of application for seeking information to the applicant, preferably by assigning a reference number prior to actually providing information. This reference number will be quoted in every future correspondence. Thereby the applicant who is a governed is able to know the status of his/her application for information.

      22. Section 5(4&5) of RTI Act 2005 makes it mandatory on the person who is actually possessing the information to provide information to the applicant as if he/she were Public Information Officer. By this it is appropriate that if an applicant for information knows the functionary in ANY PUBLIC AUTHORITY who possesses information sought, the application will be addressed to that functionary instead of designated Public Information Officer.

      23. Every public servant is bound to perform certain functions by law; dereliction in duty tantamount to disobedience to law attracting provision of section 166 of Indian Penal Code 1860.

      24. Section 22 of RTI Act 2005 overrides provisions of every act or every provision of an Act that is inconsistent thereto RTI Act 2005. This even overrides provisions of The Contempt of Courts Act 1971 & Judges Protection Act 1985 while seeking information. Hence, The Judges of any Court being public servants as per enactments alluded to at 10, which has been upheld by Supreme Court of India in K. Veeraswamy case, are liable to provide information sought on any case adjudicated by them & manner in which various aspects of facts appeared during the process of adjudication & evidence produced thereto. Such an exercise of seeking information will not be a violation of The Contempt of Courts Act 1971 & Judges Protection Act 1985.

      25. All these statements those are written above, apply to Information Commissions as well as Information Commissioners too in toto.

      26. For any Central Act, a State Government can frame rules for facilitating implantation of it. However, any Act by State Government, or rules that in conflict with the Central Act, the Central Act will prevail. No State Government can form rules or pass an enactment which, abrogates, repeal, subtracts, diminishes, curtails, modifies, contradicts, conflicts the Central Act. In such cases, the rules & enactments by any State to that extent shall be null & void.

      27. It is the exclusive prerogative of Supreme Court of India (Apex Court of India) to interpret & or to clarify any enactment by the Parliament of India (Central Government) & no other body has this prerogative. This interpretation or clarification becomes a Judgment law.

  2. Dhirendra Krishna said

    One has to be clear about the defination of “information” under section 2(f) of the RTI Act 2005, which enables a citizen to demand copy of records/documents/opinion/advise/etc. Accordingly all documents relating to policy formulation can be demended under RTI Act. Ne explanation of information which is not a part of these documents can be demanded, under RTI Act.

    However, if the policy formulation has defects, one can raise public debate in the Press,make administrative representations, mobilise political support, etc. RTI Act does enable a citizen to question the wisdom of policy decisions in the RTI applications.

  3. meteor said

    Every policy is guided by reason. Hope the policy document contains it. Then why it is not disclosable is not clear to me. The statement “answerable only to the Parliament and to no one else” seems to be high handed.

  4. JV said

    I do not agree on that contention that information is merely which can be conatined in any medium as prescribed in the definition clause sec 2(f). Recently Bombay high court also passed judgment in that line. However plain reading of section 4(1)(d) reveals that every public authority has to provide reasons for their administration and quasi judicial decisions. Please check the post for details.

    Great blog on RTI, kudos for good work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: