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Pramod Kumar Singh Vs. CPIO, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology - (Central Information Commission) (19 Mar 2018)

A voluntary disclosure of all information that ought to be displayed in public domain should be the rule and members of public who having to seek information should be an exception

MANU/CI/0229/2018

Right to Information

The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information regarding the inception date of Dr. B.R.A.- National Institute of Technology Jalandhar (formerly Dr. B.R.A.- Regional Engineering College Jalandhar), whether both the General Provident Fund (GPF) and Contributory Provident Fund (CPF) were available as an option to a new employee who joined before 1st January, 2004 and issues related thereto. The CPIO vide its letter furnished a point wise response to the Appellant. Dissatisfied by the response, the Appellant approached the FAA. The Appellant reiterated the contents of his RTI application and stated that, complete and satisfactory information had not been received by him. Furthermore, the First Appeal filed by him had also not been answered.

The Commission observed that, a voluntary disclosure of all information that ought to be displayed in the public domain should be the rule and members of public who having to seek information should be an exception. An open government, which is the cherished objective of the Right To Information Act, 2005, can be realised only if all public offices comply with proactive disclosure norms. Section 4(2) of the RTI Act mandates every public authority to provide as much information suo-motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including the Internet, so that the public need not resort to the use of RTI Act.

The Commission also observes the Delhi High Court ruling in Delhi Development Authority v. Central Information Commission and Another, wherein it was held that, the information should be easily accessible and to the extent possible should be in electronic format with the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. The word disseminate has also been defined in the explanation to mean-making the information known or communicating the information to the public through notice boards, newspapers, public announcements, media broadcasts, the internet, etc. It is, therefore, clear from a plain reading of Section 4 of the RTI Act that the information, which a public authority is obliged to publish under the said section should be made available to the public and specifically through the internet. There is no denying that, the Petitioner is duty bound by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 of the RTI Act to publish the information indicated in Section 4(1)(b) and 4(1)(c) on its website so that the public have minimum resort to the use of the RTI Act to obtain the information."

Similarly, the High Court of Bombay in Dr. Celsa Pinto, Ex-Officio Joint Secretary (School Education) vs. The Goa State Information Commission had held that as per 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; The definition cannot include within its fold answers to the question why which would be the same thing as asking the reason for a justification for a particular thing. The Public Information Authorities cannot expect to communicate to the citizen the reason why a certain thing was done or not done in the sense of a justification because the citizen makes a requisition about information. Justifications are matter within the domain of adjudicating authorities and cannot properly be classified as information."

In view of facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties and considering the larger public interest involved in the matter, the Commission advises the Respondent to prepare FAQs in respect of the queries raised in the RTI application and other related issues and place the same on its website within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of this order. The Appeal disposed off accordingly.

Relevant : Dr. Celsa Pinto, Ex-Officio Joint Secretary (School Education) vs. The Goa State Information Commission (MANU/MH/0354/2008 : 2008 (110) Bom.L.R. 1238), Delhi Development Authority v. Central Information Commission and Another

Tags : INFORMATION   DISSEMINATION   WEBSITE  

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