Can information of private body accessible to a public authority be sought under RTI?
The appellant had sought information regarding the services of contract employees. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed the appellant that the information could be sought from the concerned outsourcing company. During the hearing, the respondent submitted that the information sought relates to third party and was not provided to the applicant as it pertains to the terms and conditions of employment, working hours, safety conditions of the outsourcing companies. The respondent further submitted that the information has been subsequently provided to the appellant.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the respondent cannot take the defense by saying that the information sought relates to third party information or that the information is with the outsourcing company and therefore cannot be provided by the PIO. The Commission further held that as per 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 RTI Act, information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force constitutes ‘information’. The Commission closed the case noting that the information, initially denied by the PIO, has been obtained from the private body and subsequently provided to the appellant.
The definition of ‘information’ which can be sought under the RTI Act includes records which can be accessed by a public authority under any law in force.’ Hence, even the information which may not be held by a public authority can be sought under the RTI Act. With an increase in the outsourcing activities of the government, RTI application seeking information regarding them are likely to be filed.
Citation: Mr. Mukesh Mahto v. Bharat Coking Coal Ltd., in Case No. CIC/SS/A/2012/000332
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/447
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission