Certified copy - Is a PIO obliged to provide certified copies of documents under RTI?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd (TRIFED) seeking the certified copy of his annual property returns and the letter written by the TRIFED to the CBI in connection with sanction for prosecution. The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided the copies of the annual property returns but denied the letter written by the TRIFED to the CBI under section 8(1)(h) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; of the RTI Act.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant argued that the PIO failed to provide the information in time and even the information that was provided, was not certified. The appellant also submitted that since the investigation in the matter was already over there was no ground for withholding the letter for prosecution. The respondent submitted that the desired information had to be collected from both Personnel and Vigilance divisions while the RTI application was addressed only to the latter and thus some delay took place. Regarding the certified copies, they clarified that they do not have arrangement in their organization to certify documents and therefore, the PIO attested the documents as true copies of the original. The respondent further submitted that the appellant was facing prosecution in a special CBI court and the disclosure of this particular letter would impede the process of prosecution.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that although the PIO had provided attested copies the attestation did not bear the seal of the organization making it difficult to identify the designation and the organization of the attesting official. The CIC directed the PIO to provide the copies of these documents duly attested with the seal and signature. The Commission held that the documents relating to sanction the prosecution have a direct bearing on the case being faced by the appellant in the CBI court and their disclosure could have an adverse effect on the process of prosecution. The CIC advised the appellant that if he needed those documents, he could approach the court to allow him to have a copy.
Citation: Mr. Yashwant Ganvir v Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/000847
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/960
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