Citizens should not be deprived of information due to multiplicity of PIOs within a single Public Authority
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking information regarding the various actions taken by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) consequent to the terrorist attacks in various parts of India including Mumbai. The Public Information Officer (PIO) of the PMO provided some information and transferred the remaining queries to the PIO of the MHA. One of the PIO of MHA provided part information while some other PIO sent some more information later after the receipt of the notice from the Central Information Commission (CIC).
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant insisted that he should be provided with the entire information both by the PMO and MHA. The CIC observed that most of the queries were such that there cannot be any record or document available in any Government Ministry with any answer to those queries. The Commission noted that one such query was about the number of deaths of innocent persons on account of fake encounters and the amount of compensation paid in such cases, this query was full of personal opinion and bias on the part of the appellant. The Commission also added that unless the Government has any statistics centrally compiled, listing cases of deaths of innocent persons due to fake encounters and the consequent compensation paid in such cases and the PIO could not provide any such information. Similar is the nature of most of the other queries.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the public authority which may have some related information was the MHA and directed the PIO of MHA to appropriately distribute the queries among the PIOs within the Ministry to find out if there is any recorded information on any of these queries in any form. If there was any such record available, the same must be sent to the appellant. The Commission further noted that the PIO of the PMO had transferred the RTI queries to the MHA way back when the RTI application had been originally received. Unfortunately, at the MHA only one of the PIOs dealt with it and provided some information. The rest of the queries relating to several other sections of the Ministry remained unanswered. The Commission further stated that this seems to have happened because there is no centralised arrangement in a big ministry like the MHA to monitor the response to multiple queries contained in any single RTI application. The Commission asked the competent authority within the Ministry to take a look at this problem and take remedial steps so that the citizens are not deprived of the desired information on account of the multiplicity of PIOs.
Citation: Mr. Satyaprakash Mishra v. Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Home Affairs in File No.CIC/SM/A/2011/002808
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/709
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