Can PIO seek a proof of citizenship from the RTI applicant?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) seeking the action taken on his complaint regarding a person (Australian national), his indulgence in criminal activities and cancellation of visa etc. The Public Information Officer (PIO) wrote to the appellant seeking information about his nationality stating that the information under the RTI Act can only be sought by Indian nationals. The appellant disclosed his identity as an Indian citizen. Thereafter, the PIO forwarded the appellant’s application to the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttrakhand for taking further action in the matter as the subject matter of the application pertained to the sale of property of a NGO.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) perused the PIO’s letter addressed to the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttrakhand and observed that the letter neither forwards the RTI application nor a copy of the complaint filed by the appellant. In fact it was only the confirmation from the appellant that he is a citizen of India in reply to the MHA’s letter requesting him to inform about his citizenship. The Commission directed the PIO to pass a speaking order on the RTI application of the appellant.
Only Indian citizens have the right to seek information under the RTI Act. Ordinarily a proof of citizenship is not required to file an application under the RTI Act but if the PIO has doubts regarding the nationality of the applicant the PIO can seek a proof of citizenship from the applicant. This should, however, be in the rarest of rare cases and the PIO should have sufficient grounds for his doubts.
Citation: Mr. Malcom Rencounter v. Ministry of Home Affairs in Case No. CIC/SS/A/2012/001760
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/715
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission