Multiple applications seeking information pertaining to EVMs - CIC: Appellant advised to use the rights available to him under the RTI Act with utmost responsibility & to desist from filing multiple RTI applications seeking vague & frivolous information
O R D E R
1. The appellant filed an online application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Supreme Court of India, New Delhi seeking the information on five points pertaining to Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), inter-alia including
(i) documents regarding advice from experts of IIT for change of votes in voting machines (EVM) by frequency modulated persons, and other related information/documents regarding the change of votes in the EVM by the indulgence of other countries using high technologies,
(ii) documents regarding change in electronic data by some countries of world through high technologies, without touch of machines in stronger rooms of Election Commission of India.
2. The appellant filed a second appeal before the Commission on the ground that the respondent and the FAA did not provide any reply. The appellant requested the Commission to direct the CPIO to provide information/documents under RTI Act, and also take appropriate action against the respondent by imposing penalty on the respondent.
3. The appellant was not present despite notice and the respondent Shri Ajay Agrawal, Addl. Registrar and CPIO, Supreme Court of India with Advocate Bharat Singh was present in person.
4. The respondent submitted that the reply to the RTI application and the FAA order has already been provided to the appellant. He further stated that the RTI application filed by the appellant is frivolous, vexatious and vague, and does not constitute information under Section 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; of the RTI Act, 2005. The respondent submitted the copy of the reply and the FAA order to the Commission.
5. The Commission, after hearing the submissions of the respondents and perusing the records, finds that an appropriate reply has been provided to the appellant by the respondent. The Commission notes that, as per the respondent, the appellant has filed multiple RTI applications seeking repetitive and frivolous information from the respondent authority and replies to which have been already furnished to him, as per the available records. The Commission observes that the appellant’s RTI application is vague and frivolous. In this context, it may be noted that the Commission had earlier also vide order dated 08.12.2017 in Appeal No. CIC/SCOFI/A/2017/116688 admonished the appellant not to file frivolous/ vague RTI applications/complaints/appeals as it disproportionately diverts the resources of the Public Authority as well as the valuable time of the Commission.
6. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its decision in Central Board of Secondary Education and another vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Others, (2011) 8 SCC497 has held that,
“37. Indiscriminate and impractical demands or directions under RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information (unrelated to transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities and eradication of corruption) would be counter-productive as it will adversely affect the efficiency of the administration and result in the executive getting bogged down with the non productive work of collecting and furnishing information. The Act should not be allowed to be misused or abused, to become a tool to obstruct the national development and integration, or to destroy the peace, tranquility and harmony among its citizens. Nor should it be converted into a tool of oppression or intimidation of honest officials striving to do their duty. The nation does not want a scenario where 75% of the staff of public authorities spends 75% of their time in collecting and furnishing information to applicants instead of discharging their regular duties. The threat of penalties under the RTI Act and the pressure of the authorities under the RTI Act should not lead to employees of a public authorities prioritising ‘information furnishing’, at the cost of their normal and regular duties.”
7. Further, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in its decision in Shail Sahni vs. Sanjeev Kumar & Ors., W.P. (C) No. 845/2014, has observed that,
“… This Court is also of the view that misuse of the RTI Act has to be appropriately dealt with, otherwise the public would lose faith and confidence in this "sunshine Act". A beneficent Statute, when made a tool for mischief and abuse must be checked in accordance with law…”
8. The Commission also notes that the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the case of Rajni Maindiratta vs. Director of Education (W.P. (C) No. 7911 of 2015) dated 08.10.2015 has observed:
“8. ………..Though undoubtedly, the reason for seeking the information is not required to be disclosed but when it is found that the process of the law is being abused, the same become relevant. Neither the authorities created under the RTI Act nor the Courts are helpless if witness the provisions of law being abused and owe a duty to immediately put a stop thereto.”
9. In view of the foregoing observations, the Commission advises the appellant to use the rights available to him under the RTI Act with utmost responsibility and to desist from filing multiple RTI applications seeking vague and frivolous information.
10. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.
11. Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Omprakash Kashiram v. The CPIO, Supreme Court of India in Second Appeal No. CIC/SCOFI/A/2018/122714, Date of order 27.08.2019