Appellant asked for hard copies of information available on the website of the Respondents - CIC: The information placed by a public authority on its website is already available in the public domain; It is not under the control of the public authority
These files contain appeals in respect of the RTI applications dated 11.4.2014, 2.5.2014, 14.4.2014, 12.4.2014, 7.4.2014, 30.7.2014, 26.7.2014, 18.7.2014, 9.8.2014, 21.7.2014 and 27.6.2014, filed by the Appellant seeking information on various’ issues. Not satisfied with the response of the Respondents, he has approached the CIC in second appeal in all the eleven cases.
2. With regard to the RTI application dated 11.4.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002313), the Appellant stated that the information regarding the rules / regulations, under which accounts of a large number of customers were transferred to M/s Dutta Indane, Barauni, has not been provided. The Respondents stated that the above information was provided on 23.5.2014, in response to another RTI application dated 11.4.2014, by way of a circular dated 16.10.2001. The Appellant stated that a copy of the latest circular has not been provided. The Respondents stated that there is no later circular available with them. The Appellant appears to have a grievance regarding the Respondents having regulated transfer of gas connections under a circular of 2001. The Commission is not competent to address such grievances. In so far as the RTI application is concerned, we note that information has been provided and no further action is pending on it.
3. Regarding the RTI application dated 2.5.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002474), the Appellant stated that the CPIO did not respond to the same and subsequently, the FAA, in his order dated 9.7.2014, stated that the application was not received by the CPIO and asked him (the Appellant) to inspect the records available at M/s Dutta Indane, Barauni in regard to the queries of the RTI application. The Appellant expressed his inability to inspect the relevant records. This aspect is examined below in this order.
4. In the RTI application dated 14.4.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002475), the Appellant stated that after getting the CPIO’s reply dated 13.6.2014, he filed an appeal to the FAA on 21.6.2014, which was not disposed of. The Respondents stated that the FAA disposed of the appeal dated 21.6.2014 vide his order dated 11.7.2014 and additional information was provided to the Appellant in keeping with the order of the FAA. Taking into account the submissions of both the parties, no further action is considered necessary on this RTI application.
5. In the RTI application dated 12.4.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002477), the Appellant sought information regarding transfer of connections of a large number of consumers to M/s Dutta Indane, Barauni. He stated that the CPIO responded in 62 days. However, from the records submitted by the Appellant with his second appeal, we note that the above RTI application was responded to on 23.5.2014. The Appellant further submitted that detailed information concerning the Area Office to which requests can be made (point No. 4 of the RTI application) was not provided. The CPIO is directed to provide the same to the Appellant, within seven days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission.
6. Regarding the RTI application dated 7.4.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002501), the Appellant stated that in response to point No. 5 he was asked to inspect the relevant records at the gas agency concerned and expressed his inability to carry out inspection. This aspect is examined below in this order.
7. Regarding the RTI application dated 30.7.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002673), the Appellant stated that on 18.6.2014, he made a complaint to the Respondents and he has not been informed about their findings on the same. The Respondents stated that the complaint was regarding transfer of the gas connection of the Appellant and that the area office responded to him. Having considered the submissions made by both the parties, we direct the CPIO to provide to the Appellant certified copies of the enquiry report / communications of the Respondents, containing their findings in regard to the complaint dated 18.6.2014 filed by the Appellant. The above information should be provided free of cost, within fifteen days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission.
8. In the RTI application dated 26.7.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002675), the Appellant sought information under three points. He stated that in response to point No. 3, he was informed that the relevant information was available on the website of the Respondents and prayed that the Respondents be directed to provide him hard copies of the information. This aspect is examined below in this order.
9. With regard to the RTI application dated 18.7.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002679), the Appellant stated that he was not satisfied with the reply of the Respondents to points No. 1, 2, 4 and 6. We note that in point No. 1, the Appellant sought information in general regarding the record maintained in the office of the Respondents and was informed that since he had not specified any particular area, it was not possible to respond to the above query. At point No. 2, the Appellant sought information regarding the record of distributors kept at the office of the Respondents. The Respondents stated during the hearing that they maintain only the record concerning the appointment of distributors in their office. The rest of the record is available with the distributors. We see no ground to interfere with the response of the Respondents to the above points. With regard to point No. 4, we direct the CPIO to provide response to the specific query contained therein free of cost, within fifteen days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission. At point No. 6, the Appellant was advised to inspect the records of the gas agencies concerned. The Appellant expressed his inability to carry out inspection. This aspect is examined below in this order.
10. Regarding the RTI application dated 9.8.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002682), the Appellant stated that in response to point No. 1, the Respondents have provided an old circular dated 15.10.2012. The Respondents stated that they have no later circular to provide. In view of the foregoing, no further action is considered necessary on this application.
11. In regard to the RTI application dated 21.7.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002719), the Appellant stated that in response to the query at point No. 3, regarding the distribution record of the eighteen distributors in Begusarai for the period January to June 2014, he was asked to inspect the relevant records at the gas agencies concerned. He expressed his inability to carry out inspection. This aspect is examined below in this order.
12. The RTI application dated 27.6.2014 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002839), once again sought information regarding the action taken by the Respondents on the Appellant’s complaint dated 18.6.2014. In view of the direction given by us in paragraph 7 above, no further action is considered necessary on this RTI application.
13. The Appellant raised two general issues in the course of the proceedings. Firstly, he stated that even in cases in which information is available on the website of the Respondents, hard copies of the same should be provided to him. Secondly, he expressed his inability to inspect the records in those cases in which inspection was offered by the Respondents. With regard to the first issue, we note that the information, that is placed by a public authority on its website, is already available in the public domain and is, therefore, not under the control of the public authority. It can be obtained by any interested person by consulting the relevant website. If public authorities are required to provide hard copies of the information, already available on their website as part of suomotu disclosure, such suomotu disclosure will become futile, because the very purpose of such disclosure is to ensure that applicants do not have to approach public authorities to get a good deal of information already placed by them on their website. Regarding the second issue, the Appellant initially stated during the proceedings that he was unable to inspect the records as it would involve expenses on his part to go to the places of storage of record and also because he has certain health issues. Subsequently, he also said that since he is an RTI activist, he faces a threat to his life. In the above context, we note that in view of the voluminous information concerning certain gas agencies, sought by the Appellant in some of his RTI applications, we do not fault the decision of the Respondents to ask him to inspect the relevant records. In case the Appellant is not in a position to do so personally, he could authorise a representative to do so. It is up to him to avail himself of the offer of inspection of records already made to him by the Respondents.
14. The CPIO is directed to forward the information, as per our directives in the preceding paragraphs, to the Appellant by registered post.
15. With the above directions and observations, the eleven appeals are disposed of.
16. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Girish Prasad Gupta v. Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., in File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002313 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002474 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002475 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002477 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002501 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002673 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002675 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002679 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002682 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002719 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002839