Should the applicants keep in mind the costs involved in compilation of the information?
The appellant claimed himself to be a RTI activist and filed an elaborate application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Election Commission of India seeking huge amount of information pertaining to the elections to the State legislative assemblies in five states during 2012, such as, the pre and post voters list along with the address and the photo ID of each voter in all these five states. He also wanted information regarding the use of EVMs such as whether there is any guarantee that the EVMs could not be manipulated by inserting virus or similar complex destructive programs. He also wanted to know if networking sites like Google.com, Rediff.com, Yahoo.com and Microsoft.com etc. played any role in the Commission's work and if the sites are friends of the Commission. The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided a lot of information which was readily available in recorded form. He also informed the appellant that the information sought by him was voluminous and had to be compiled and had the potential of disproportionately diverting the resources of the Election Commission [section 7(9)]. The PIO also stated that some of the queries of the appellant such as whether there is any guarantee that the EVMs could not be manipulated by inserting virus or similar complex destructive programs were beyond the purview of the RTI Act being totally impressionistic in nature.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) examined the contents of the RTI application, the reply given by the PIO and the order of the FAA and held that the PIO has already provided the available information. The CIC accepted the contentions of the PIO that some of the information, such as the list of voters along with their photo ID for all the five states which went into polls cannot be provided because of the volumes involved. The Commission observed that such information is already available in the relevant websites. The Commission further observed that this case is an example of how the RTI is being used without any concern for the costs involved in compilation of the information. This also illustrates how a serious right given to the citizens is being reduced to the level of a farce. The Commission rejected the appeal stating that there is no reason to interfere in the decision of the FAA.
Some RTI applications require considerable patience and skill on the part of the PIO to make out much sense out of most of the so called questions.
Citation: Mr. Dev Prasad Mishra v. Election Commission of India in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/001934
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1288
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission