RTI Judgement Series: PIO cannot deny information under Section 11 and Section 7(9)
Moneylife Digital Team 13 December 2012

The PIO was reprimanded for denying information in a casual manner by using Section 11 and Sect 7(9). This is the tenth in a series of important judgements given by Shailesh Gandhi, former CIC that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

 
The Chief Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Aligarh Muslim University was reprimanded for denying information in a casual manner and using Section 11 and Section 7(9) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. While giving this judgement, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner said “...the denial of information on the basis of these two sections was without any basis in law and denial of information can only be under Section 8(1) or Section 9”.
 
“The PIO will give the information to the appellant before 25 January 2009. He is also warned that denying information in this casual manner will invoke the penal provisions of Section 20 of the Act,” the Central Information Commission (CIC) said in its order dated 9 January 2009.
 
Aligarh-based Shema, on 6 July 2008 sought certain details about number of persons who had applied for certain inspection of exam answer papers. 
 
She sought information on following queries:
“1 How many persons applied for photocopies of OMR sheets or for the inspection of OMR sheets of any candidate appeared in any of the competitive admission tests organized by AMU, in 2008. Kindly let me know the dates of receipts of their application and names of examination, saving the names of applicants or the names of the candidates of roll nos.
2- How many persons applied for photocopies of question booklets or for the inspection of question booklet of any candidate appeared in any of the competitive admission tests organized by AMU, in 2008. Kindly let me know the dates of receipts of their applications and names of examination saving the names of applicants or the names of candidates or roll numbers.
3- How many persons applied for photocopies of answer keys or for the inspection of Answer Keys of question booklets given to any candidate appeared in any of the competitive admission tests organized by AMU, in 2008. Kindly let me know the dates of receipt of their applications saving the names of applicants or the names of candidates or roll numbers.”
 
The PIO however denied the information saying that "the desired information relates to the third party, as per section 11(1) of RTI Act, 2005, and therefore cannot be provided.”
 
Ms Shema then approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA). While rejecting her application, the FAA said, “Since the information sought by you does not help the office in its day-to-day functioning therefore it would put unnecessary burden on the resources. The request is rejected under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act, 2005. However, the information seeker being a resident within 1 km of this office can visit the section under prior intimation on any working day during office hours to go through the records herself. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed off”.
 
Not satisfied with the reply, she then approached the Commission. After hearing both the sides, Mr Gandhi, pointed out that denial of information on the basis of Section 11 and Section 7 (9) of the Act was without any basis in law and denial of information can only be under Section 8 (1) or Section 9.
 
“Section 11 sets out a procedure for giving the opportunity to a third party to give his objections and Section 7 (9) can be invoked only to state that information in the format demanded by the appellant is not possible. However the PIO would have to offer the information in an alternate format when invoking Section 7(9). Besides the queries do not lend themselves at all to using Section 11 or Section 7 (9),” the Commission said in its order issued on 9 January 2009.
 
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
 
Decision No. CIC/OK/A/2008/01256/SG/0937
 
Appeal No. CIC/OK/A/2008/01256
 
 
Appellant                                                        : Mrs Shema
                                                                                  Aligarh - 202002
 
Respondent 1.                                               : Wajid Ali
                                                                                  CPIO
                                                                                  Aligarh Muslim University (AMU)
                                                                                  O/o the Controller of Examination
                                                                                  Admission Section, AMU, Aligarh 
 
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