RTI Judgement Series: Citizens must use RTI with some sense of responsibility and not as instruments of destruction
Moneylife Digital Team 02 July 2013

An appellant filed 50 RTI applications thus nearly paralyzing a Biodiversity park project in Delhi university. This is the 125th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an inspection of complete records of the Biodiversity Park project in Delhi for which the applicant had filed 50 applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, stated that citizens must use RTI with some sense of responsibility and not as instruments to paralyze institutions or projects.

 

While giving this judgement on 29 July 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “The Commission has realized that the modus operandi of the appellant of filing multiple RTI applications has the effect of nearly paralyzing a project of significant scientific importance. Right to Information is a sacred fundamental right but cannot be allowed to be used to destroy organizations.”

 

Delhi resident Tarun K Roy, on 15 April 2009, sought information regarding the Biodiversity Park from the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the University of Delhi, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Here is the information he sought...

 

i) Following information with regard to RTI reply of the PIO dated 27/01/2009

a) Brand name and manufacturing company of the stolen laptop and photocopy of the valid receipt against purchased value of the laptop.

b) Photocopy of the expenditure statement submitted by the concerned project in charge for audit and utilization certificate submitted to DDA in which the cost of the stolen laptop was reflected.

ii)      

a) Photocopy of the grant sanctioned and grant released letters of the concerned funding agency (DDA) for the Biodiversity park programme to the University of Delhi from the beginning till date.

b) Photocopy of the list of the total assets/property belonged to the Biodiversity Parks Programme (Separately of Yamuna Biodiversity Park and Aravalli Biodiversity Park) against the released funds from the funding agency DDA.

c) Photocopy of the chronological expenditure statements of the Biodiversity Parks Programme submitted by the project in charge to the finance department of the University of Delhi for audit.

d) Photocopy of the audited accounts of the biodiversity parks programme.

iii)     

a) Photocopy of the approved terms & conditions between DDA and University of Delhi for the Biodiversity Parks Programme.

b) Photocopy of the approved management plan for the Biodiversity Parks Programme.

c) Photocopy of the signed MoU between Delhi University and DDA for the Biodiversity Parks Programme.

d) Photocopy of the terms & conditions issued by the University of Delhi to the appointed all staffs of the Biodiversity Parks Programme.

 

iv) Reason for not providing information to the appellant if in case the PIO unable to collect/consolidate any specific information from the concerned section/departments of the University of Delhi within 30 days’ time limit of the RTI Act, 2005. Photocopy of the internal communications/notings in this regard rather than irrelevant/vague reply as “information is not available in the concerned department” or “no input had been received” to avoid or ignore the points.

 

In his reply, the PIO stated that the RTI application had been transferred to the PIO of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on 9 May 2009 for providing information.

 

Citing the information provided by the PIO as incomplete, Roy filed his first appeal. In his order, the First Appellate Authority (FAA), observed that the information provided by the PIO was complete and no further action was required.

 

Roy, then approached the Commission citing unfair disposal of his first appeal by the FAA.

 

During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, directed the PIO to provide information about queries 1(a) and (b). He said, “The PIO has provided certain information. However, looking at the extensive and voluminous data required by the appellant the Commission feels that a useful purpose would be served by him inspecting all the files relating to the Biodiversity Park project.”

 

Mr Gandhi directed the PIO to get all the files relating to the Biodiversity Park Project to the Commission’s office on 8th and 9 October 2009 at 10am. “The appellant (Roy) will select whatever records he wants and he will provided photocopies of these. The deemed PIO, Prof CR Babu will send an affidavit stating that all the material with relation to the Biodiversity Park has been sent to the Commission. This affidavit will state the number of files and the total number of pages in each file. A copy of the affidavit will be given to the appellant and the original affidavit will be kept by the Commission,” the CIC said while allowing the appeal.

 

Subsequently, the PIO brought 68 files related with the Biodiversity Park project’s complete record and an inspection was carried out on 8th and 9 October 2009. The PIO also brought two files related with Roy from the office of deputy registrar (legal) of DU.

 

Roy, the appellant stated that he believes that there should be some more files. However, Prof CR Babu, project in-charge of Biodiversity Parks Programme had given an affidavit that the entire record consists of 68 files. His affidavit also includes a list of the files. Both these were given to Roy.

 

Roy made certain comments, which were attached with the final order of the Commission. Mr Gandhi observed that the appellant had in the last two years sought information regarding the Biodiversity park through over 50 RTI applications and repeatedly been asking for fairly voluminous information. “Hence, the inspection was ordered on the two days at the Commission’s office where all relevant records were brought by the public authority. The appellant wanted to use a pen during the inspection and he was allowed to use only a pencil by the order of the Commission,” he noted.

 

Mr Gandhi said, “The Commission has realized that the modus operandi of the appellant of filing multiple RTI applications has the effect of nearly paralyzing a project of significant scientific importance. The Commission is now sure that any legitimate information need of the appellant has been adequately taken care of.”

 

The CIC said, the appellant (Roy) identified some pages for which he wanted photocopies, and it would be provided to him before 15 October 2009. The Commission said that following details will not be provided to the appellant out of the records sought by him since the respondents have raised objection about these being an intrusion on privacy of the employees:

1.       Details of families of employees and their addresses

2.       Health certificates

3.       Home town declarations and addresses of candidates

 

Mr Gandhi said, “The Commission treats all applications of the appellant regarding the Biodiversity Park and appeals which are pending as closed with this order.”

 

“Right to Information is a sacred fundamental right but cannot be allowed to be used to destroy organizations. Citizens who use it must do it with some sense of responsibility and not use it as instruments of destruction,” he said.

 

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

 

Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001841/4861Adjunct

https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/SG-09102009-04.pdf

Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001841

 

Appellant                                            : Tarun K. Roy

                                                                 Delhi 110053

                            

Respondent                                        : Public Information Officer

                                                               University of Delhi

                                                              Main Campus

                                                               Delhi 110007

Comments
S BHASKARA NARAYANA
9 years ago
As long as there is no self interest of the appellant, may be considered, as at times, the PIOs are under influence of heirarchial boss.
Free Helpline
Legal Credit
Feedback