CIC: DoPT OM No. 1/6/2011IR dated 15.4.2013 on the suo moto disclosure under section 4 of the RTI Act are clear; MHA is bound to proactively disclose all RTI applications and appeals received and provide their responses on its website
O R D E R
1. The appellant filed an RTI application on 4.2.2013 with the PIO seeking certified copies of various registers, notings, letters issued, etc. for different periods. In all, documents have been sought on 18 points. No reply of the PIO is available on the file.
2. On not receiving any response from PIO providing information, the appellant filed an appeal on 6.3.2013/8.3.2013 with the first appellate authority (FAA). No reply of the FAA is available on the file. The appellant approached the Commission on 24.5.2013 in second appeal.
3. The appellant’s representative and the respondent both participated in the hearing.
4. The appellant’s representative referred to the RTI application of 4.2.2013 and stated that there were two other RTI applications, i.e., appeal no. CIC/SS/A/2013/901840 filed on 24.1.2013 and No. CIC/SS/A/2013 /901842 filed on 18.1.2013, which were more or less on the same set of issues. The appellant’s representative indicated that, taking into account the similarity in the three RTI applications, the present hearing should be taken to cover the other two RTI applications also and that in the interest of productive outcomes, he would like to focus his observations on points 1, 2 and 3 of the RTI application under consideration.
5. The appellant’s representative stated that while the appellant did not receive any reply to the RTI application dated 24.1.2013, a reply to another RTI application dated 18.1.2013 was received on 14.5.2013. The appellant reiterated points 1, 2 and 3 of the RTI application and stated that the response of the respondent dated 7.3.2013 and 14.5.2013 had shortcomings in addressing the application and had failed to satisfy him. The appellant further stated that the RTI application is aimed to ensure that access to information is enabled in the interest of ensuring effective implementation of the RTI Act.
6. The respondent stated that the respondent organization received the RTI application dated 4.2.2013 on 21.2.2013. In so far as point 2 thereof is concerned, the respondent said that no single dak register is maintained for the Ministry. The respondent explained that there are more than 160 sections in the Ministry and every section maintains its own dak register. Besides, the dak is also received in the offices of Minister and Minister of State of the Ministry.
7. The respondent stated that they had made an effort to address the RTI application and sent a response on 7.3.2013, but taking into account the voluminous nature of documents sought, i.e., the copies of dak registers of all the sections of the Ministry, it was not found possible to provide the information. As regards the other two RTI applications are concerned, the respondent stated that while the RTI application dated 24.1.2013 was not received at all in the Ministry, there was some delay in responding to the RTI application dated 18.1.2013.
8. The appellant’s representative stated that the guidelines issued by the Deptt. of Personnel & Training vide OM No. 1/6/2011IR dated 15.4.2013 on the suo moto disclosure of information under section 4 of the RTI Act are very clear and that the respondent organization is bound to proactively disclose all RTI applications and appeals received and provide their responses on the website that are maintained by the public authority. The appellant further underlined that the public authority must ensure that the guidelines are fully operationalised within a period of 6 months from the date of issue.
9. The appellant’s representative stated that he wants to reiterate what he has already stated in the initial stage of hearing that his intention is to ensure that the respondent organization gets into the mode of complying with the RTI Act in the manner in which the MHA is expected to do. The appellant stated that there are various exemplars, which an institution like the MHA could follow, e.g., India Post, Law Ministry and the Indian Railways in the handling of RTI matters in context of the points in the RTI application.
10. The appellant’s representative further stated that the respondent organization is duty bound to file its annual returns in which it has to bring out the details of RTI application received, fees collected, responses sent. The appellant’s representative said that the respondent organization will not be able to carry out its responsibilities if it is so evasive about the information that the appellant has sought in his RTI application. The appellant’s representative stated that the respondent is not saying that they do not have the information, the issue is more about the respondent’s willingness to provide the information. 11. The appellant’s representative observed that the RTI applications received in Hindi should be replied in Hindi as far as possible. The respondent took note of this.
12. What emerged from the hearing was that the respondent would ensure compliance with the guidelines issued by the Deptt. of Personnel & Training as referred to in para 8 above.
13. The respondent is directed to ensure compliance with the guidelines of the Deptt. of Personnel & Training referred to above in context of the hearing and the RTI application. The respondent must also inform the appellant about the steps taken by the respondent in this regard. Compliance with these directions must be ensured within 3 months of this order. The appeal is disposed of. Copy of the decision be given free of cost to both the parties.
Citation: Shri Maniram Sharma v. Ministry of Home Affairs in Decision No. CIC/SS/A/2013/901833, 901840, 901842/VS/06659