Appellant had submitted his RTI application on a paper having the letter head of the NGO - CIC: This cannot be construed to deny him information under the RTI Act; PIO directed to provide point wise reply free of charge u/s 7(6) of the RTI Act
The appellant vide RTI application dated 30.12.2016 sought information on 3 points relating to the details of losses incurred by the Railways from the year 2012 to 2016 and steps taken by the railways to overcome such loss. The CPIO’s reply or the First Appellate Authority (FAA)’s order is not on record. Aggrieved with the non-supply of the desired information from the respondent authority, the appellant filed a second appeal under the provision of Section 19 of the RTI Act before the Central Information Commission on 04.04.2017.
Grounds for Second Appeal
CPIO did not provide the desired information.
Appellant : Absent
Respondent : CPIO, Shri V.Prakash,
Joint Director During the hearing the respondent CPIO submitted that they had provided the requisite reply vide their letter dated 18.01.2017 which is just and proper and hence the case should be dismissed.
The appellant was not present to plead his case. On perusal of the case record, it was seen that proper reply was not provided to the appellant. The deemed PIO, Shri N.K.Rajgrihar, Sr. Accounts Officer, Railway Board vide its reply dated 18.01.2017 stated as under:
“In the case of Inder Grover vs. Ministry of Railways (CIC/OK/A/2006/00121 dated 27.06.2006) (copy enclosed) CIC interpreted Section 3 of RTI Act to hold that persons applying for information under the Act should apply as natural and individual persons (citizens). Corporate bodies and juristic persons cannot apply for information under the Act. It is accordingly ruled that if a person applies for information to a public authority as a representative of a corporate body, then he/she is not entitled to information under the Act.”
The Commission observed that the plea of the CPIO that the appellant had not filed the present RTI application in his individual capacity is not maintainable. In a catena of decisions the Commission had held that so long as 3 the said RTI application is signed by an individual who is a citizen of India, then notwithstanding the capacity in which such application is filed, it shall be valid.
It is relevant to rely on the decision of the coordinate bench of this Commission in the matter of S. Balaji vs Employees Provident Fund, decision dated 15 July, 2010 (case no. CIC/SG/A/2010/001462) as follows:
“A. Whether the Appellant is a "citizen" within the meaning of Section 3 of the RTI Act.
Section 3 of the RTI Act, which stipulates that all citizens shall have the right to information, confers such right on a distinct individual who is a citizen of India. In the instant case, the mere fact that the Appellant has signed his name in the capacity of Deputy Manager of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Limited ("BAGIC") does not mean that he has not filed the same as a citizen of India and cannot seek information under the RTI Act. The Appellant while filing the RTI application as a citizen is free to inform the PIO about his designations and positions that he might be holding. The Commission is of the view that so long the RTI application is signed by an individual who is a citizen of India, then notwithstanding the capacity in which such application is filed, it shall be valid. The Appellant, therefore, is a "citizen" within the meaning of Section 3 of the RTI Act. Hence, the contention of the FAA/ PIO that the Appellant is a corporate entity seeking information in the guise of a "citizen" is devoid of any merit and is liable to be rejected.”
In the matter of Deepak Chhabra vs MCD, GNCT Delhi, decision dated 1st July, 2015 in the case no. CIC/YA/A/2014/003340 the coordinate bench held as follows:
“After hearing the parties and on perusal of record, the Commission finds that the PIO's denial for providing information, stating that the appellant is seeking information on behalf of an NGO, is without any merit. Section 3 of the RTI Act stipulates that all citizens shall have the right to information. It confers such right on a distinct individual who is a citizen of India. In the instant case, the mere fact that the appellant has given his corresponding address in the name of his NGO does not mean that he has not filed the same as a citizen of India and cannot seek information under the RTI Act. The appellant while filing the RTI application, as a citizen, is free to inform the PIO about his corresponding address and his designation/position that he might be holding. The Commission is of the view that so long the RTI application is signed by an individual who is a citizen of India, then notwithstanding the capacity in which such application is filed, it shall be valid.”
In the matter of Vinod Sunder R vs Department Of Space decision dated 20 March, 2012 in the case no. File No.CIC/LS/A/2011/003523 the Coordinate bench held as under:
“38. Before proceeding further with the matter, I would like to deal with the issues enumerated herein above.
(a) The appellant in the impugned cases is Vinod Sunder R, Company Secretary. He has filed the RTI applications in the letter-head of Devas Multi Media Pvt. Ltd. The appellant has clearly mentioned his name in the RTI applications. That he is a Company Secretary of Devas Multi Media is additional information that he has furnished in the RTI applications.
It would be rather implausible to argue that if he files the RTI application under his name, he is entitled to information but if he also mentions therein that he is Company Secretary, he become disentitled to seek information. Besides, use of letter-heads of Devas Multi Media Pvt. Ltd. also appears to be of no consequence. Use of letter-heads, in my opinion, does not disqualify the appellant from seeking the requested information. In fact, this issue had come up before another coordinate Bench of this Commission and vide its decision dated 17.5.2007 in File No. CIC/WB/C/2007/00104 & 00105, this Commission had repudiated this contention. The operative para of the decision is extracted below :-
"In conclusion we direct that an application/appeal from an Association or a Partnership Firm or a Hindu Undivided Family or from some other group of individuals constituted as a body or otherwise should be accepted and allowed. The CPIO, CPWD, Kolkata will dispose of the present application of 5 Shri Talukdar accordingly, as mandated by Secs. 6 and 7 of the RTI Act, 2005 within thirty days of the receipt of this Decision Notice."
In view of the above, the contention of Dr. Priyadarshee is rejected and it is held that Shri Vinod Sunder R. is a citizen of India in terms of section 3 of the RTI Act and is entitled to seek information as per the provisions of the RTI Act.”
In the light of the above decision, prima facie it is clear that the appellant is entitled to the information sought for in the above stated RTI application. It is relevant to note here that the appellant had submitted his RTI application on a paper having the letter head of the NGO, National Human Rights Committee but this cannot be construed to deny him information under the RTI Act because of the reason, so eloquently stated in the above said decisions of the CIC. Be that as it may, since no desired information was provided to the appellants, the respondent CPIO is directed to provide point wise reply complete in all respects to the appellant as available on record in the form of certified true copies of the documents sought e.g. note sheet, letters, correspondence, e-mail etc. free of charge u/s 7(6) of the RTI Act within 15 days of the receipt of the order.
The respondent CPIO is further directed to send a report containing the copy of the revised reply and the date of despatch of the same to the RTI appellant within 07 days thereafter to the Commission for record. With the above direction, the appeal is disposed of.
Copies of the order be sent to both the parties free of cost.
Citation: Vinay Gupta v. Railway Board in File No.: CIC/MORLY/A/2017/129291, Date of hearing : 18.10.2017