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The Central Information Commission (CIC) has said a government order allowing transfer of RTI applications from a public authority to another was “not consistent with law”. It also allowed disclosure of information related to fuel expenses of Cabinet ministers, state ministers and Opposition party leader.

In its June 2008 circular on transferring RTI applications, cases in which information is scattered across number of public authorities, the department of training and personnel (DoPT) had said such transfers can be allowed only once.

The point was raised by the cabinet secretariat during a hearing of a plea filed by Mumbai based RTI activist Chetan Kothari. The cabinet secretariat had said information is not maintained centrally, and is scattered across different public authorities.

Citing the DoPT order on transfer of application, it had asked Kothari to file separate RTI applications with different departments to get the information.

Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, however, said, “There are numerous instances where RTI applications have been transferred by one public authority to another and none of them appears to know where the information is.”

Gandhi said in this scenario for public authorities to take a position that they would only transfer to one public authority is “unreasonable”, and the law does not state this. “There is nothing in the (RTI) Act which would shows that Parliament intended that the transfer should only be to one public authority.”

He added, “It also appears that DoPT’s office memorandum is in contravention of the General Clauses Act 1987 and interpreted Section 6(3) of the RTI Act wrongly… The Commission rules that DoPT’s office memorandum is not consistent with the law.”


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The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that in a conflict between the Right to Information Act and the internal rules of a Public Authority, the RTI Act must prevail. It would prevail even if the internal rules pertain to the Supreme Court.

CIC Shailesh Gandhi passed this order in a case, in which information on certain judicial records was sought from the Supreme Court under the RTI Act. The First Appellate Authority (FFA) in the court held that any information on judicial records could be accessed only under Order XII of the Supreme Court rules.

The judicial records pertained to letters written to judges by R.S. Misra, appellant in the case. Mr. Misra, who wrote the letters in connection with a Special Leave Petition filed by him, wanted to know their status and filed an application under the RTI Act.

Mr. Gandhi held that the Supreme Court could not cite internal rules to deny information if it had been sought under the RTI Act. Further that information could be denied only if the information sought was prohibited under the RTI Act itself.

“The right to information is a fundamental right of the citizen of India. This has been clearly recognised by the Supreme Court in several decisions and subsequently codified by Parliament in 2005. The RTI Act was enacted with the spirit of ensuring transparency…Section 3 of the RTI Act lays down that subject to the provisions of the RTI Act, all citizens shall have the right to information… Further Section 22 of the RTI Act expressly provides that the provisions of the RTI Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923, and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than the RTI Act. In other words, where there is any inconsistency in a law as regards furnishing of information, such law shall be superseded by the RTI Act. Insertion of a non-obstante clause in Section 22 of the RTI Act was a conscious choice of Parliament to safeguard the citizens’ fundamental right to information…If the PIO has received a request for information under the RTI Act, the information shall be provided to the applicant as per the provisions of the RTI Act and any denial of the same must be in accordance with Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act only..”

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2013124.ece

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