Public authority has to show the last date of updating the compliance of section 4 of the RTI Act
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) seeking a number of information relating to the implementation of the provisions of section 4(1)(b) Every public authority shall publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,- (i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; (ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees; (iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control; (vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof; (viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public; (ix) a directory of its officers and employees; (x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations; (xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; (xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; (xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it; (xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form; (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed and thereafter update these publications every year; of the RTI Act. The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided some information against all his queries.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant pointed out that the disclosure made by the Ministry was far from satisfactory. He alleged that not only all the disclosures as mandated had not been done, but also no attempt had been made to revise and update the entries from time to time.
View of CIC
The Commission visited the Ministry website to see the extent and the quality of disclosure made and noted that all the 16 items of disclosure have been covered in the Ministry website but it is not clear if these reflect the up to date and complete information. The CIC held that it is necessary for the Ministry to clearly state at the beginning of the link that it is updated up to a particular date. All these documents must be routinely published in the Ministry website so that the citizens do not have to approach the PIO under RTI to know about this. The Commission also ruled that if there is any other concession or grant the Ministry have been extending under any of their schemes or in exercise of any statutory powers, those should also be published. Since the Ministry might have a large number of divisions and attached offices attending to all this, it would be necessary for someone in the Ministry to coordinate with everybody and ensure that all the details under section 4 (1)(b) are uploaded in the website of the Ministry and updated at least once every year. The CIC directed the PIO to intimate the status of the compliance of the Commissions directions in this regard. The CIC also directed the Secretary of the Ministry to review the present status and bring about all round improvement in the RTI Cell.
Public authorities are duty bound to disseminate certain information to public and to update the entries at regular intervals.
Citation: Mr. Harinder Dhingra v. Ministry of Environment & Forest in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/001458
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/991
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission