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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Right to Information ACT – Clarifications & Instructions

A.     Acceptance of RTI Application/appeal
1.      Accept the RTI applications without asking the reasons for making the applications, as asking for the reasons for making the applications is in violation of Sec 6(2). Do not insist on countersignature by some particular officer. Make necessary suitable arrangements to receive the application for information/appeal in the absence of nominated officer/official.
2.      Accept the RTI application fee in the mode prescribed by Nodal Department i.e. Department of Personnel & Training. Mode of RTI application fee are (i) Cash (ii) Demand draft (iii) Banker’s cheque (iv) Indian Postal Order. There is no fee prescribed for appeal.
3.      The RTI Act does not provide any standard form of application for information. The nodal Ministry of the Government of India has also not prescribed any format for application. Hence the Department cannot insist on a particular format of application and no application can be rejected on this ground.
4.      The RTI application shall be received by any Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) in those offices where there are several CPIOs having different jurisdictions. It would be the duty of the CPIO who receives the application to direct it to the concerned CPIO.
B.     Maintenance of record
5.      Maintain record of application/appeal under RTI in the formats prescribed by CIC.
6.      Furnish Quarterly Report and Annual Report to the Directorate in prescribed formats by 10th of falling month.
C.     Disposal of application/appeal
7.      Opinion, Analysis, Comparability, Examination of issue, redressal of grievances are outside the purview of the Act.
8.      Request applicant for specific information if the information sought for is vague or not specific. (Decision No. 249/IC(A)/2006, F.No. CIC/MA/C/2006/00190 dated 07th Sep 2006 Case of Shri BP Singh Vs. CBEC)
9.      File notings are not, as a matter of law, exempted from disclosure.
10.  Every decision has to be conveyed within stipulated period under the signature of designated CPIO/Appellate Authority as the case may be. (Appeal No. 149/1CPB/2006 F.No. PBA/06/234 dated 02nd Nov 2006 Case of Shri PS Pattabiraman Vs. Department of Posts, Tamilnadu Circle). Comments on the appeal should also be sent under the signature of either CPIO or Appellate Authority as per requirements (Copy of decision enclosed).
11.  Any rejection of request for information has to be in terms of the provisions of the RTI Act and the specific provisions applied in a particular should be mentioned while responding to the applicant. (Appeal No. 1CPB/A-4/CIC/2006 dated 10th Feb 2006 Case of Shri Rajesh Pandita Vs. Deptt. Of Posts)
12.  Intimate the detailed particulars of Appellate Authority & time limit for appeal while rejecting/supplying requested information to the applicant. It has further been ruled that the 1st appeal in all cases would lie with the Departmental Appellate Authority and only at the stage of 2nd appeal would the appeal lie with the Central Information Commission (CIC).
13.  Intimate retention period in case of information sought has been weeded out under Record Retention Schedule/Preservation of Records Rules. It would also be advisable to enclose copy of relevant rules or the extract of rules under which weeding of records has been done.
14.  Never advise the appellant to prefer the 1st appeal itself to Central Information Commission on the ground that the decision to deny the information had been taken at the highest level (Appeal No. 1CPB/A-4/CIC/2008 dated 10th Feb 2006 Case of Shri Rajesh Pandita Vs. Deptt. Of Posts)
D.     Misc
15.  Display the particulars of CPIO and Appellate Authority of concerned office at entrance of office for public.
16.  Copies of evaluated Answer Papers are not to be made available to the candidate or others. As and when answer papers are evaluated, the authority conducting the examination and the examiners evaluating the answer paper stand in fiduciary relationship to each other. Hence in fiduciary relationship the disclosure of such information is exempted under Section 8(1)(c). Further it is purely a personal information, the disclosure of which has no relation to any public interest or activity and this has been covered under Section 8 (1)(j) of the Act. (Appeal No. 1CPB/A-2/CIC/2006 dated 06th Feb 2006 Case of Ms. Treesa Irish Vs. Kerala Postal Circle)
Note: The above decision was reviewed by CIC in decision dated 23.04.2007 in complaint No. CIC/WB/C2006/00223, Appeal Nos. CIC/WB/A/2006/00469, & 00394; Appeal Nos. CIC/OK/A/2006/00266/00058/00066/00315 filed by S/Shri Rakesh Kumar Singh and others. The CIC has held that in respect of public authorities, the main function of which is not of conducting examination, but only for filling up the posts either by promotion or by recruitment, be it limited or public, the disclosure of the answer sheets shall be the general rule but each case has to be examined individually to see as to whether disclosure of evaluated answer sheets would render the system unworkable in practice. If that be so, the disclosure of the evaluated answer sheets could be denied but not otherwise. However, while doing so, the concerned authority should ensure that the name and identity of the examiner, supervisor, etc. is in no way disclosed so as to endanger the life or physical safety of such person. If it is not possible to do so, the authority concerned may decline the disclosure of the evaluated answer sheets under Section 8(1)(g). The right to get an evaluated answer sheet does not however, extend to claiming inspection of or getting a copy of the evaluated answer sheets concerning other persons.
(Auth: DG Posts letter No. 101-5/2008-RTI dated 25 Mar 2008)

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