CIC: PIO could not provide the hyperlink where the information is available on the website - Appellant denied the availability of information on the website - CIC: For transparency, information available on the website can be printed and given to appelant
The appellant has sought the following information: -
1. Provide the information of the competent authority responsible to take action on the irregularities and misuse of funds as mentioned in the letter dated 28/05/2019, referred to in the RTI application.
2. Whether Rev. Dr. D. Arul Samraj, Coordinator (Bioinformatics Infrastructure Facility-BIF, Govt. of India), Head of the Department of Zoology, Madras Christian College (MCC), Chennai, during his tenure can enroll his own son Mr. A.S. Ben Geoffrey as Research Associate under the said unit on a monthly remuneration of Rs. 8000/- for a period of two years?
3. lf no, then who is the competent authority to take action and what punishment will be imposed on him by the competent authority?
4. And other related Information.
Grounds for Second Appeal
The CPIO did not provide the desired information.
Submissions made by Appellant and Respondent during Hearing:
The appellant submitted that none of his queries were replied to correctly by the CPIO. The CPIO’s representative reiterated the written submissions dated 23.03.2022 submitted by the CPIO.
Basically the CPIO had denied the information sought on all the points’ u/s 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; except point no. 1. In respect of point no. 1 the appellant was guided to the website where information is available. The FAA vide order dated 23.09.2020 provided a detailed explanation on all the points supporting the CPIO’s reply. The appellant vide his written submissions dated 19.03.2022 pressed for the information sought and also pointed out that the information sought on point no. 1 is not available on the website. Moreover, for the rest of the points also incorrect replies were given.
Per contra, the CPIO vide written submissions dated 23.03.2022 had challenged the appellant’s second appeal and alleged that in the entire application the appellant had asked questions that are not covered under the Act by any means of comprehension. Moreover, the RTI filed on the face of it does not come under the purview of information and does not fall under the category of seeking information as per definition of information under the Act. In respect of point no. 1 She submitted that as information is already available in the public domain, the CPIO is not obliged to furnish the same under the Act as held in the case of “Ram Singh vs M.K Bagdi” by the Commission. She also pointed out that as per point no. 1 the CPIO had provided the source of information which is already available in the public domain and the Act does not mandate the CPIO to compile information and to provide the applicant in the format he/she wishes.
The Commission observed that the appellant in all the points except point no.1 is alleging irregularity in the organisation and is pressing for information. However, he could not point out the flaw in the reply given. However, in respect of point no. 1 the CPIO could not provide the hyperlink where the information is available, and when the appellant is categorically denying the availability of information on the website, there is no mechanism to check the availability without the CPIO’s assistance. The CPIO is not required to compile the information but the information available on the website can be printed and given to the appellant in the interest of transparency.
In view of the above observations, the CPIO is directed to provide the hard copies of the information available on the website to the appellant on point no. 1 within 7 days from the date of receipt of the order. The rest of the points are not covered under Sec. 2 (f) of the RTI Act, 2005.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Vanaja N. Sarna
Citation: T Retna Pandian v. Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology in File no.: CIC/DBTEC/A/2020/133004, Date of Decision: 31/03/2022