Correspondence by PMO to the various social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook etc regarding the North East exodus was denied in terms para 16 of the Rules u/s 69 A of the IT Act - CIC: provide information, as available on records, if disclosable
Correspondence by PMO to the various social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook etc in connection with the North East exodus was denied in terms para 16 of the Rules u/s 69 A of the IT Act - CIC: PIO to go through the records carefully & provide the information, as available on records, if disclosable under the provisions of the RTI Act
The appellant has sought the following information:-
1. Kindly provide certified copy of all letters written by PMO to the various social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook etc in connection to the North East exodus or any other reasons.
2. Kindly provide certified copy of all the correspondence including complete details of file notings received by Govt. of India from social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook etc in connection to the North East exodus.
3. Kindly provide me certified copy of the report submitted by Ministry of Home Affairs to the PMO in connection to the North East Exodus.
4. Kindly provide me the complete details of the correspondence held among various Ministries of Govt. of India in connection to the North East exodus.
5. Kindly provide me the name of those twitters accounts which are recommended by the PMO to remove. Also provide the certified office letter showing direction/request of the same.
Grounds for the Second Appeal: The CPIO has not provided the desired information.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing: The following were present
Appellant: Mr. Paras Nath Singh
Respondent: Dr. A K Kaushik CPIO & Shri B J Srinath
The CPIO stated that the appellant had filed his RTI application dated 19/10/2012 with the PMO requesting for information under 5 points and the PMO vide letter dated 26/10/2012 had transferred query 2 to the DoT and the DoT vide letter dated 06/11/2012 had forwarded the query to the Director DEITY and vide letter dated 07/01/2013 addressed to the appellant they have claimed confidentiality in terms para 16 of the Rules under Section 69 A of the IT Act, 2000. The appellant contested stating that the respondent can claim exemption from disclosure only in terms of Section 8 of the RTI Act. He further pointed out that the respondents are claiming confidentiality and not non-availability of the information. The CPIO stated that their response was based on the provisions of the IT Act. The appellant stated that the reply was delayed by two months and penal action should be initiated.
Once an applicant seeks information as defined in 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, the same cannot be denied to the information seeker except on any of the grounds mentioned in Section 8 or 9 of the RTI Act, the CPIO cannot add or introduce new reasons or grounds for rejecting furnishing of information. However, it may be noted that only such information can be supplied under the Act that is available and existing and is held by the public authority or is held under the control of the public authority. The CPIO is not supposed to create information that is not a part of the record of the public authority. In view of the foregoing the CPIO is directed to go through the records carefully and provide the information, as available on records, if disclosable under the provisions of the RTI Act within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order. If, however, no information is found on record an appropriate declaration should be furnished to the appellant. As regard the appellant’s plea for initiating penal action it will be apt to quote the law as propounded by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in WP(C) 3114/2007, decided on 03/12/2007 (Bhagat Singh Vs. CIC & Anrs) holding as under:-
17. “This Court takes a serious note of the two year delay in releasing information, the lack adequate reasoning in the orders of the public information officer and the Appellate Authority and the lack of application of mind in relation to the nature of the information sought. The materials on record clearly show the lackadaisical approach of the second and third respondent in releasing the information sought. However, the petitioner has not been able to demonstrate that they malafidely denied the information sought. Therefore, a direction to the Central Information Commission to initiate action under Section 20 of the Act cannot be issued.”
The matter at hand shows the lackadaisical approach of the respondent, however, the appellant has not been able to demonstrate that the information was blocked in malafide manner; hence, initiation of penal proceedings would not be justified. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Mr. Paras Nath Singh v. Department of Electronics & IT, M/o Communications & IT in File No. CIC/BS/A/2013/000883/5140