Should a PIO transfer the application under section 6(3) to dozens of branch offices?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Department of Revenue seeking some information. The Public Information Officer (PIO) transferred the RTI application under section 6(3) to the 14 Director Generals of Income Tax of the country. Certain PIOs provided some information to the appellant.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) referred to its earlier decision [CIC/AT/A/2008/01280 dt 22.9.2009] (Shri Ketan Kantilal Modi Vs Central Board of Exicse and Customs), wherein it was held that section 6(3) castes an obligation on the PIO to transfer an RTI application filed under section 6(1) to another public authority where the former knows the information is held, a fact which a petitioner was not expected to know given the circumstances. Section 6(3) is the exception to the general rule contained in section 6(1) that a request for information should be filed before a public authority, which holds the information. The decision whether to transfer an RTI application within the meaning of section 6(3) is to be the PIO’s given the circumstances of the matter. The CIC directed that in case the PIO, CBEC transfers appellant’s RTI application electronically to the subordinate Commissionerates, the latter shall process these information-requests as independent requests under section 6(1) and collect from the petitioner all requisite fees including the application fee as if the application were made independently by him to that public authority subordinate to the CBEC.
In light of the earlier decision, the Commission upheld the decision of PIO/ FAA and advised the appellant to approach the PIOs of concerned public authorities for the information sought by him.
It is a common problem faced by the PIO of the headquarters of an organisation where an application is filed before it and information related to the multiple field offices is sought. A PIO is not expected to transfer the application to dozens of field formations and compile it for an applicant.
Citation: Mr. Deep Chand Dugar v CBDT, Deptt. of Revenue in File No. CIC/DS/A/2011/004314/RM
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1121
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission