Under RTI, can information be denied to a person if he signs in his official capacity?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) seeking information as to why he and others who have been working with BSNL have been deprived from being regularized even when a decision in another case was in their favour. The appellant also sought comments and other documents related to the case. The Public Information Officer (PIO) refused to provide the information.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the PIO contended that the RTI application was sent on the letter head of RTI Club Uttarakhand and has been signed by the General Secretary of the said club which is not a citizen and hence the information cannot be furnished under the RTI Act.
View of CIC
The Commission held that as per section 3 of the RTI Act, all citizens shall have the right to information. In the present case, the appellant has signed his name in the capacity of Deputy Manager of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Limited (BAGIC) where it didn’t mean that he has not filed the same as a citizen of India and cannot seek information under the RTI Act. The Commission observed that as long as the RTI application is signed by an individual who is a citizen of India and then notwithstanding the capacity in which such application is filed, it would be valid. The CIC held that the appellant is a citizen within the meaning of section 3 of the RTI Act and the contention of the PIO that the appellant is a corporate entity seeking information in the guise of a citizen is devoid of any merit and is liable to be rejected. The CIC also added that it is apparent from the above decision that the PIO’s contention that information could not be furnished as the RTI application is made on the letter head of the RTI Club and signed by the appellant in his capacity as a General Secretary is without merit. The CIC directed the PIO to furnish the information requested by the appellant.
Citation: Mr. Amar Singh Ghunta v. BSNL in File No. CIC/BS/A/2012/000914/2651
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1375
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