Is a PIO obliged to provide hard copy of information already available on website?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Supreme Court of India in which he wanted to know the mode of depositing the fees for filing an appeal against the order of the National Commission for Consumer Grievance Redressal. The Public Information Officer (PIO) referred him to the Supreme Court Handbook containing all such rules which was also available on its website.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant submitted that he was not aware of the mode and method of depositing such fees for preferring an appeal before the Supreme Court and wanted the PIO to provide him with the relevant information.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the sought information might be available in the Supreme Court Handbook and on its website but there is no reason why the PIO could not provide a hard copy of the relevant rule. The CIC directed the PIO to forward to the appellant the a copy of the relevant rule showing the amount of fees and the mode by which such payment could be made for preferring an appeal against the order of the National Commission for Consumer Grievance Redressal.
In cases where the information has already been made public by putting on the web, it has often been claimed by the PIO that the information is no longer ‘held’ by them and as such, there is no obligation to provide a copy under the RTI Act. The decision of various benches of CIC has varied on this count. In our opinion, while referring the specific web page link to the applicant, the PIO should also ask the applicant if he still needs the copies of the documents in hard form, the charges as per the rules may be deposited. This would help those citizens who do not access to internet while others would find it more economical to take printouts from web rather than paying Rs. 2 per copy and waiting for getting the information.
Citation: Mr. Parasnath Tiwari v. Supreme Court of India in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/000995
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/908
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission