Disclosure regarding appointment of Directors at various NITs under RTI
The appellant sought information regarding an advertisement given by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for the post of Director at various National Institutes of Technology (NITs), such as copies of applications received for it, list of nominations received from eminent persons for the above post, list of Selection Committee members and the selection parameters. The Public Information Officer (PIO) did not respond to the application. On appeal, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) held that the delay occurred as the application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act was not traceable. He denied the copies of applications under section 8(i) stating that the process of selection for Director of 13 NITs was going on. Regarding the selection parameters, the appellant was advised to look into the advertisement wherein necessary qualifications and experience had been mentioned.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant submitted that he had been provided only the numbers instead of the list of eminent persons. The public authority submitted that copies of documents were not furnished as the process of selection of Directors was going on. The respondent also submitted that the list of Selection Committee members was not disclosed as at that point of time Presidential approval for the same was awaited. The respondent further submitted that the Selection Committee had not finalized the modalities to scrutinise the applications and shortlist the suitable candidates to be called for interview at that point in time and thus the information could not be provided to the appellant. The appellant argued that he did not receive any response from the PIO. The public authority submitted that as per their records the original RTI was not traceable and hence they took action only after receipt of the appeal.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) noted that as the RTI application was sent by registered post, it should not have been misplaced in the Ministry. The Commission directed the PIO to examine the circumstances in which a registered letter was not traceable and ensure that systems are put in place so that such instances didn’t recur. The Commission rejected the appeal stating that the decision taken by the FAA conforms to provisions of section 8(i)(e) & (j) of the RTI Act.
The view of the different benches of CIC has varied on the issue of disclosure of the applications. The use of incorrect numbers (i in place of 1 while quoting the exemption section) in the orders which are put up for the public view on the CIC site needs to be changed.
Citation: Mr. Rajendra Lingam v. Department of Higher Education in File No.CIC/DS/A/2011/001285/RM
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/531
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission