Seeking information related to UNICEF and NGOs using RTI
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Registrar General of India seeking information related to proposal either mooted by or received from UNICEF/ NGOs in respect of imparting training to the DCO wise Master Trainers/ Enumerators for conducting House Listing operation and Census 2011 and the National Population Register with 50% participation etc. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed the appellant that the information sought is available with UNICEF and as soon it is received the same would be provided. While hearing the second appeal, the Central Information Commission (CIC) directed the PIO to provide the information and also issued show cause notice to the PIO for causing a delay of more than 100 days in providing information to the appellant.
During the hearing of the show cause notice, the PIO submitted that the information asked by the appellant was held jointly by his office and the UN Organization. Since UN organizations did not fall under the control of Government of India and involved international relations, it was felt necessary to seek inputs form the UN Bodies before sharing any information with any third person. In due course of time, the information held by them and as received from the UN Bodies was uploaded on the office website for free download. He further stated that on the directions of the Commission, the requisite information under the control of his office has already been provided to the appellant free of cost.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the PIO committed that as soon as the information was received, he would provide the same to the appellant but he never provided the information till the matter was heard in the Commission. The CIC also noted that most of the information was already available with the PIO / public authority and the PIO did not bother to part with the information. Holding that there was no application of mind on the part of the PIO., the CIC ruled that the explanation given by the PIO does not fall within the reasonable cause of section 20(1) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees: Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him: Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. of the RTI Act and he is liable for the penalty. Under section 20 of the RTI Act, the Commission levied a penalty of Rs. 25,000/- on the PIO for obstructing the disclosure of information to the appellant.
Citation: Mr. K G Bafana v. Registrar General of India in F. No CIC/SS/C/2012/000838
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1351
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