RTI Act casts the responsibility of providing the information on the holder
The appellant filed two applications the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the President’s Secretariat seeking information concerning the disposal of mercy petitions by the President of India in general and particularly in the case of Afzal Guru. The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided some information including photocopies of some file noting regarding other mercy petitions while informing that since a final decision on the mercy petition of Afzal Guru was yet to be taken, the desired information could not be disclosed.
During the hearing, the Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the PIO should make it clear if all the available documents have been provided or some of those have been withheld. No document or record can be withheld without assigning any particular exemption provision. The copies some documents including the correspondence, notes, comments and opinion, if any, have not been provided. The respondent argued that many such documents had been received from third parties and the decision to disclose such information should rest with those parties.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) held that the RTI Act clearly casts the responsibility of providing copies of records and documents on the holder. The PIO should either:
- provide copies of whatever records are held, or
- transfer the RTI application to the appropriate public authority
If there is any information which has been provided by any third party in confidence, the PIO may consult the third party under section 11 of the RTI Act. The Commission held that in case the PIO decides not to disclose any of the remaining documents and records, he shall pass a speaking order stating the exact exemption provision on the basis of which any information is being withheld. Regarding the case of Afzal Guru, the Commission accepted the respondent’s plea that the entire matter is yet to be decided by the President.
Citation: Mr. Subhash Chandra Agrawal v. President’s Secretariat, in File No.CIC/SM/A/2011/001548 & 2394
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/500
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