Is the PIO expected to provide answers to all the questions in an application?
A PIO is expected to provide ‘information’ as defined under section 2(f) of the RTI Act and not answer the questions of the applicant.
An information-seeker can’t demand from a public authority its opinion or seek its advice in a matter of the petitioner’s interest. A PIO is not expected to provide intangible such as interpretations, opinions, advices, explanations, reasons as they cannot be said to be included in the definition of information in Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act. The reasons available on record should be provided and the PIO is not expected to post–facto create reasons.
The Act does not permit raising imaginary question and expecting the PIO to find answers for them. The PIO is not expected to confirm or deny some perception of the appellant, which he has about a particular set of information.
Information, which is not compiled and maintained by a public authority, nor is expected to be maintained during the routine course of business, cannot be furnished.
The RTI Act does not require a PIO to generate information, in the form of documents or in electronic form, for satisfying an applicant. The information has to be provided as is available with the public authority.
In many cases, it may be open to debate whether an information sought amounts to opinion/ interpretation / explanation / compilation etc. or not. Therefore, a PIO should exercise due caution while drafting a reply to avoid any lapse. A regular reading of issues relating to RTI like those appearing on this site would come handy in taking a reasoned view.