Varied information covering the entire five year tenure of former President
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the President's Secretariat seeking information related to travels of the former President of India, the costs incurred on those, the number of mercy petitions decided by her and the number of Bills she had approved during her tenure. The Public Information Officer (PIO) refused to disclose any information citing a previous decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC) wherein it was held that the RTI application should contain the request for only one item of information.
During the hearing, the Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the RTI application is too wide, covering the entire five year tenure of the former President. The respondent submitted that the details sought by the appellant on all these subjects are not available in a compiled form and would have to be collected from multiple files held by many sections of the President Secretariat. This exercise is not contemplated under the RTI Act. CIC noted that section 2(j) “right to information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to- (i) inspection of work, documents, records; (ii) taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records; (iii) taking certified samples of material; (iv) obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device; of the RTI) Act clearly states that a citizen has a right to get only that information which is held by the public authority. In other words, unless the desired information is available with the public authority, the PIO is not required to assemble such information through research and collation. The Commission also observed that some of these details, specially relating to the travels of the former President, an exercise is being undertaken to collect the information and to upload such details in the Rashtrapati Bhavan website for everybody to see. Once this exercise is over and the information is made available in the website, every citizen can find out for himself or herself all such details.
View of CIC
The Commission directed the PIO to find out whatever information is already available in a compiled form on any of these subjects and to provide to the appellant. The CIC observed that some such information, even for a limited period and on only one or two of these subjects might have been compiled in the past in response to other RTI requests. The Commission also directed the PIO to revisit the RTI application and to find out whatever information is available in the President Secretariat and provide the same to the appellant. The CIC advised the appellant to seek more specific information in future and not ask for such wide and omnibus details.
Citation: Mr. Gurvinder Singh Chadha v. President's Secretariat in File No.CIC/SM/A/2012/001839
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1398
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission