MoF to designate a PIO to deal with RTI applications at ministry level
Justice Rajiv Shakdher of the Delhi High Court has directed the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to appoint a nodal Public Information Officer (PIO) to deal with the RTI applications. Upholding the order of Central Information Commission (CIC), the HC has directed the MoF to designate and publicise the name of the PIO who will received RTI application. The PIO would process the RTI applications and ascertain as to the department to which it pertains and transfer it to the concerned PIO for processing. In case the information pertains to more than one department, photocopies of the information would be supplied to PIOs of all such departments so that there is no delay in receipt of information by the applicant.
The Finance Ministry has five departments - Economic Affairs, Revenue, Expenditure, Financial Services and Disinvestment each of which has a different set of Public Information Officer to deal with the RTI applications. However, there is no PIO to process applications pertaining to the Ministry.
Earlier, an application was filed by Subhash Chandra Agrawal seeking information related to use of currency notes to felicitate the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati in 2010. The application was addressed to the PIO of the MoF which was returned with the comment that they do not have any PIO for the Ministry. On second appeal, the Chief Information Commissioner at CIC Mr. Satyananda Mishra had ruled that when there is something called a Ministry of Finance with a Finance Secretary in position, it is rather odd that the Ministry does not itself have a PIO. The CIC had ruled that "Even if it is admitted that the Ministry operates through various departments under it, the Ministry itself is in existence as a public authority and, therefore, it needs to have a CPIO."
The MoF had challenged the order of CIC before the Delhi High Court with the plea that "In case a CPIO is appointed for the Ministry of Finance, the implementation of the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005 and processing of all RTI applications of all departments of the Ministry of Finance would become difficult and extremely time consuming which will result in prejudice to the citizens of the country as well." Hopefully, the MoF does not go to the division bench of the HC to delay the appointment of a PIO.