State PCB denies information to a village sarpanch under RTI
The sarpanch of a village in Junagadh district of Gujarat had filed an application with the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get some information regarding pollution and illegal mining. The applicant had sought the details of a 33kV single power line being laid by Gujarat Ambuja Cement from Ambujanagar to Mul Dwarka and had alleged that the said line was being laid without requisite permission.
The reply from the public information officer of GPCB stated that the demanded information could not be provided as Section 3 of the RTI Act mandates furnishing of information only to an Indian citizen and due to his post i.e. being sarpanch of Gokham gram panchayat, the applicant was not qualified to get the information.
The applicant claimed that the GPCB sought the permission of the company for furnishing information that was in their official custody. He has now filed an appeal with the first appellate authority of GPCB contending that no section in the RTI Act asks proof of the applicant’s citizenship and if in any case, the PIO suspects the nationality, it can be verified by demanding the identity proof of the applicant.
As per section 3 of RTI Act, 2005, only an Indian citizen has the right to get information. An application should never be sent as Secretary, abc society. It should be given a specific name like Mr. / Ms. Such and such. The concerned individual could also be a sarpanch or a secretary.