Should PIO speculate about the exact information that the information seeker needs?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) seeking varied information like the Transfer of Power documents; the documents entered between the Government of India and the UK in 1947; the status of the British Queen in India; the status of India in the Commonwealth of Nations etc. The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided some information.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the information sought spans over a very long period of time and seeks to elicit information generally covering the entire transaction between the British and newly independent Government of India relating to its independence. The CIC held that the information seeker has to specify the information according to section 6(1) of the RTI Act and it is not for the PIO to speculate about the exact information that the information seeker needs. Accepting the contentions of the PIO that some of the information is not held centrally in a compiled form in the manner in which it has been sought and that collating the information would disproportionately divert the resources of the Ministry, the CIC observed that the appellant has not clarified as to why he finds the information provided by the PIO deficient or incomplete. In the absence of any such clarity, it was not sure what additional information needs to be disclosed. The Commission advised the appellant that if he has any specific information in his mind, he should approach the PIO again clearly stating the information he needs.
The CIC also held that the query like what is the status of the British Queen in India is not only vague and does not yield any readymade information but is clearly outside the purview of the RTI Act. The Commission ruled that for the purpose of RTI, information denotes only an existing material record; it does not refer to any information or record to be created only to satisfy the immediate demand of the information seeker. The CIC rejected the appeal observing that there is no further information to be disclosed in the case.
Citation: Mr. Mintu Kumar v. Ministry of External Affairs in File No.CIC/SM/A/2012/001433
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1265
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