Is a photocopy of the RTI appplication admissible instead of the original?
The appellant filed five applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the President’s Secretariat seeking information relating to the travels undertaken by the Rashtrapati, gifts given by her/him, details of the grants given from the discretionary fund, recommendations given by the Rashtrapati in favour of various officers for their promotion and the number of times the Rashtrapati had addressed the nation and media etc. The Public Information Officer (PIO) returned the RTI applications along with the application fee on the ground that it was not an original application but a photocopy of the original. The PIO advised the appellant to send the original application, preferably a typed version.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the respondent submitted that the appellant had the habit of making the same request time and again in various combinations. The respondent also stated that same information as sought in some of these cases had already been provided to him on several occasions in the past. The Commission noted that the RTI Act do not clearly require the citizen to make an application in original duly signed by him in ink but it is expected that he would make the request in an application as provided in section 6(1) of the Act duly signed by him in ink. There is no other way for the PIO to know if the application is genuine or not. However, an RTI application should not be rejected only because it is not in the original and is just the photocopy. As long as the RTI application gives the address of the applicant and is accompanied with the prescribed application fee, the PIO should treat it as a valid RTI application and proceed to provide the information.
View of CIC
The Commission directed the respondent to make a list of the items of information sought in all the five RTI applications and indicate against the queries if the information has already been provided in the past. He must provide the remaining information. The CIC advised the appellant to be careful in future and make all his RTI applications in original with his signature in ink and not send photocopies of such RTI applications. The Commission also held that the appellant must not seek the same information again and again thereby adding to the burdens of the public authority. The RTI Act gives the right to seek information to every citizen but not to waste public resources by repeatedly seeking the same information under various guises.
Citation: Mr. Nitesh Kumar Tripathi v. President’s Secretariat in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/001547, 1548, 1549, 1550 & 1551
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1389
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission