Right to Information
7 Things a PIO is supposed to do for you under RTI
There are clear guidelines from the CIC for the PIO. So, the next time a PIO dilly-dallies over the information you have sought use this
 
While the RTI Act does empower the citizen to procure information from public authorities, it is sometimes intimidating for him, when the Public Information Officer (PIO) to who he submits the application, does not reciprocate as per his duties, laid out in the Act.
 
Did your PIO ignore the information you sought even after the mandatory 30 days? Did he provide vague or insufficient answers? Did he not forward your application to the relevant PIO in case the information that you asked for, did not fall under his jurisdictions? For these and any other deficiency in giving you information, there is no need to throw up your hands (the government would just love if this happens). The Central Information Commission has spelt out the role of a PIO, in detail, and it is important that you, as a RTI applicant should be aware of it.
 
Time and again, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has issued circulars and guidelines to PIOs to be sensitive to the information sought. It has also repeatedly directed all public authorities to strictly abide by the Section suo motu disclosures. (check this out: http://persmin.gov.in/DOPT/RTICorner/Compendium/COMPENDIUM_Final.pdf). However, defiance to such directives continues but it would help, if the citizen is aware of what the PIO SHOULD do for him.
 
Here are some pearls of wisdom uploaded in CIC online at the website http://rti.india.gov.in/ which need to reiterated considering the common complaints of unfriendly PIOs
 
1. PIO must know the RTI Act fully: The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of a public authority plays a pivotal role in making the right of a citizen to information a reality. The casts specific duties on him and makes him liable for penalty in case of default. It is, therefore, essential for a CPIO to study the Act carefully and understand its provisions correctly. Following aspects should particularly be kept in view while dealing with the applications under the Act
 
2. The PIO MUST give you information in any of these formats: A citizen has a right to seek such information from a public authority which is held by the public authority or which is held under its control. This right includes inspection of work, documents and records; taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records; and taking certified samples of material held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority
 
3. Your PIO should know that you can seek information that a MP has access to: The Act gives the citizens a right to information at par with the Members of Parliament and the Members of States Legislatures. According to the Act, the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature, shall not be denied to any person.
 
4. The PIO should give you information in the format you want: The information to the applicant should ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought. However, if the supply of information sought in a particular form would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or may cause harm to the safety or preservation of the records, supply of information in that form may be denied.
 
5. PIO is duty bound to assist you: The Central Public Information Officer has a duty to render reasonable assistance to the persons seeking information. As per provisions of the Act, a persons, who desires to obtain any information is required to make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is made. If a person seeking information is not able to make such request in writing, the Central Public Information Officer Should render reasonable assistance to him to reduce the same in writing. Where access to a record is required to be provided to a sensorial disabled person, the Central Public Information Officer should provide assistance to such person to enable him to access the information. He should also provide such assistance to the person as may be appropriate for the inspection of records where such inspection is involved.
 
6. You can insist that the PIO follows Section 4 suo motu disclosures: The Act makes it obligatory for every public authority to make suo motu disclosure in respect of the particulars of its organisation, functions, duties and other matters, as provided in section 3 of the Act. The information so published, according to sub-section (3) of section 3, should be easily accessible with the CPIO in electronic format. The CPIO should, therefore, make concerned efforts to ensure that the requirements of the Section 3 are met and maximum information in respect of the authority is made available on the internet. It would help him in two ways. First, the number of applications under the Act would be reduced and secondly, it would facilitate his work of providing information inasmuch as most of the information would be available to him at one place.
 
7. The PIO has no right to ask you, the reason for your seeking information: An applicant making request for information is not required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him. Also, the Act of the Rules does not prescribe any format of application for seeking information. Therefore, the applicant should not be asked to give justification for seeking information or to give details of his job etc. or to submit application in any particular form.
 

 

 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
 

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COMMENTS

allzwell

2 years ago

Look at this case. A CIC order was passed on Dec 30, 2015.

===================================
Relevant extracts :

The matter was heard by the Commission. The appellant stated that the CPIO, NCW vide letter dated 26.6.2014 that too after seven months had not provided information on Point 5(a) & (e), stating that the copy of NCW Inquiry Committee order dated 26.10.2012 was available with Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) as all records were kept in custody of MSCW. The
appellant requested the Commission to initiate penalty proceedings u/s 20(1) of the RTI Act against the CPIO. The respondents stated that the file relating to the case
was in the custody of the Maharashtra State Commission for Women. Therespondents regretted for the delay in responding. The respondents further stated
that the matter in the Bombay High Court had been concluded and they will call their file back from Maharashtra State Commission for Women and provide information on
Point 5(a) & (b) to the appellant.
5. In view of above submissions of the respondent, the Commission directs the CPIO, NCW to get the file back from Maharashtra State Commission for Women
and provide information with reference to Point 5(a) and 5(e) to the appellant within
one month of receipt of this order. The Commission warns the CPIO for the delay in providing information to the appellant and advises him to ensure timely disposal of the RTI applications in future. The appeal is disposed of.
===================================
After 30 days, the reply received is that Files are missing and that they would write to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Till date nothing is done. Aother RTI filed on March 28, 2015 with the WCD Ministry that governs NCW, seeking action taken report. WCD sends it to NCW on April 1, 2015 It is now June 1, 2015 but there is no reply from the PIO of NCW. This is after the warning by CIC In earlier order. So, why would the PIO fear anything ? Let the RTI applicant be harassed.

allzwell

2 years ago

I think most PIOs are well informed but choose to delay as they can get away. How many cases are there since inception of RTI where the CIC has levied a penalty on the PIO ? It would interesting to have some statistics on this.

Rajesh Premani null

2 years ago

One of the commonest weapon used by the PIO of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, when not desiring to give information is by replying, that "You can take inspect the files and take photocopies of the information sought by you, chargeable at the rate of Rs. 2 per copy, during 9am to 6pm." Now, paying is not an issue, but the issue is, that the information sought is not strictly included in the reply, in black and white. Also to add to the hardship, when the query has been posted in English,the revert is purposely given in Marathi or Hindi, to cause inconvenience to the respondent. How does one tackle this?

Lokesh Batra

2 years ago

There is typographic error.

In case the information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within forty-eight (48) hours of the receipt of the request.

Ramesh B Mhadlekar

2 years ago

The CPIO of RBI should take lessons from Madam vinita Deshmukh,because it rejects every information under Sec 7 (9)The information being spread over various files and not available in compiled form and would disproportionately divert the resources of the Bank or "No information is available" specifically to those information which it should normally be holding.In one of the recent Private and secretive recruitment of class IV employee contrary to SC decisions and Indian constitution's Art 14 & 16,it does not know how many of the recruited employees are posted in Mumbai ,how many of them are posted out of Mumbai, when Written test was conducted,when inter view was conducted,the age criteria followed,whether advertisement was given in newspaper etc. etc. etc a long list,but yet RBI is functioning without any information inits record -Satya Mev Jayte.

Delhi contests home ministry notification, HC hearing on Friday
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government on Thursday moved the Delhi High Court, challenging the union home ministry's May 21 notification that said Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung has discretionary powers for appointments and transfers to key bureaucratic posts in the capital.
 
The Delhi government mentioned the matter before a division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, which posted the hearing for Friday. 
 
Challenging the "constitutional validity" of the notification, the city government sought its quashing by the high court.
 
The high court bench also posted for Friday a similar plea filed by law student Vibhor Anand, who challenged the home ministry notification and contended the appointment of senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin as the acting chief secretary by the Delhi Lt. Governor was a "illegal".
 
"There is already a similar petition filed by the Delhi government. We will hear both on Friday," the bench said.
 
The petitions, filed within days of a high court order terming the May 21 notification as "suspect", have contended that it was "ultra vires" of the constitutional provisions, i.e. Article 239 AA (4), and that the Centre does not have the jurisdiction over matters connected with services of bureaucrats in the national capital.
 
"Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain informed the high court that the Centre had also approached the Supreme Court to challenge the high court order that termed 'suspect' its notification barring Delhi government's anti-corruption branch (ACB) from acting against its officers in criminal offences."
 
Law student Vibhor Anand in his PIL said: "Delhi is neither a full state nor a union territory and Delhi is governed by Articles 239-AA and 239-AB of Constitution of India (which deals with union territories) introduced by a constitutional amendment in 1991."
 
"As per Section 41 of the GNCT Act, 1991, the Lieutenant Governor does not have any discretion to appoint Gamlin as the chief secretary and other such posts, nor any special law granted him this discretion," the petition read. 
 
The petitioner also said that the Lt. Governor is "dutybound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers and the chief minister in all matters that concern the legislative assembly as per Article 239 AA (4) of the Constitution of India and Section 41 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991."
 
The petition highlighted a Supreme Court constitutional bench judgment in which the phrase "aid and advice" as used in Article 239-AA has been interpreted "to mean that the aid and advice of the council of ministers and the chief minister is binding on the Governor, it is not just advisory." 
 
The turf war between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung over the control of key bureaucratic appointments was sparked by the appointment of Gamlin as acting chief secretary of Delhi by the Lt. Governor on May 15. 

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Driving too slow, Indian tourists lose car rentals
Two Indian tourists in New Zealand had their car rental contracts cancelled after they were stopped by police for driving too slow, media reported on Thursday.
 
The drivers drove their two rented vehicles at 60 km/h in a 100 km/h zone in South Island's Queenstown area and stopped frequently in the middle of the road, leading to several people reporting them to the police, Stuff online reported. 
 
In their defence, the Indian drivers blamed low visibility due to fog and geo-positioning system (GPS) problems. 
 
"They just had no idea. There was a real lack of understanding of our road rules," a police official said.
 
International car rental company Avis, provider of their cars, cancelled both the contracts. 

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