Action taken by IT department on dissolved firms within the meaning of Section 43 of the Indian Partnership Act - IT Act is available in the public domain – CIC: PIO is not required to obtain and furnish any ‘opinion’ or ‘advice’ to an applicant
1. Vide RTI dt 11.1.12, appellant had sought information on 9 points relating to the status of a registered partnership firm which had been dissolved.
2. CPIO vide letter dt 7.2.12, informed the appellant that CPIO is not obliged to draw conclusions from statutory provisions or to make interpretations of these provisions in the given set of circumstances. The IT Act 1961 and the Rules 1962 are available in the public domain and appellant may refer to them.
3. An appeal was filed on 23.2.12.
4. AA vide order dt 2.4.12, observed that the information being sought by the appellant is regarding action taken by IT department on dissolved firms within the meaning of Section 43 of the Indian Partnership Act, 1932. The information being sought in the nature of an opinion which the public authority is not obliged to provide. Accordingly, the CPIO’s order was upheld.
5. Submissions made by the appellant were heard. He submitted that the queries raised by him in his RTI relate to issues on which there is no clear/specific provision in the IT Act and hence the IT authorities should provide the clarification. He further submitted that in case there are specific provisions in the IT Act, relating to his queries, then the same should be specified to him. In the absence of the public authority, their views could not be ascertained.
6. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of CBSE Vs Aditya Bandopadhyay & Others dt Aug 9, 2011, has held as follows: “35. At this juncture, it is necessary to clear some misconceptions about the RTI Act. The RTI Act provides access to all information that is available and existing. This is clear from a combined reading of section 3 and the definitions of `information' and `right to information' under clauses (f) and (j) of section 2 of the Act. If a public authority has any information in the form of data or analysed data, or abstracts, or statistics, an applicant may access such information, subject to the exemptions in section 8 of the Act. But where the information sought is not a part of the record of a public authority, and where such information is not required to be maintained under any law or the rules or regulations of the public authority, the Act does not cast an obligation upon the public authority, to collect or collate such non- available information and then furnish it to an applicant. A public authority is also not required to furnish information which require drawing of inferences and/or making of assumptions. It is also not required to provide `advice' or `opinion' to an applicant, nor required to obtain and furnish any `opinion' or `advice' to an applicant. The reference to `opinion' or`advice' in the definition of `information' in section 2(f) “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; of the Act, only refers to such material available in the records of the public authority. Many public authorities have, as a public relation exercise, provide advice, guidance and opinion to the citizens. But that is purely voluntary and should not be confused with any obligation under the RTI Act.”
7. In the light of the above decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the Commission concurs with the decision of the CPIO/AA. The appeal is disposed of.
Central Information Commissioner
Citation: Shri Shobhan Mahanti v. CBDT, Deptt. of Revenue in File No. CIC/RM/A/2012/000482