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July 3, 2011

Right to Information ACT – Clarifications & Instructions

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 Right to Information ACT – Clarifications & Instructions 

A.     Acceptance of RTI Application/appeal
1.      Accept the RTI applications without asking the reasons for making the applications, as asking for the reasons for making the applications is in violation of Sec 6(2). Do not insist on countersignature by some particular officer. Make necessary suitable arrangements to receive the application for information/appeal in the absence of nominated officer/official.
2.      Accept the RTI application fee in the mode prescribed by Nodal Department i.e. Department of Personnel & Training. Mode of RTI application fee are (i) Cash (ii) Demand draft (iii) Banker’s cheque (iv) Indian Postal Order. There is no fee prescribed for appeal.
3.      The RTI Act does not provide any standard form of application for information. The nodal Ministry of the Government of India has also not prescribed any format for application. Hence the Department cannot insist on a particular format of application and no application can be rejected on this ground.
4.      The RTI application shall be received by any Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) in those offices where there are several CPIOs having different jurisdictions. It would be the duty of the CPIO who receives the application to direct it to the concerned CPIO.
B.     Maintenance of record
5.      Maintain record of application/appeal under RTI in the formats prescribed by CIC.
6.      Furnish Quarterly Report and Annual Report to the Directorate in prescribed formats by 10th of falling month.
C.     Disposal of application/appeal
7.      Opinion, Analysis, Comparability, Examination of issue, redressal of grievances are outside the purview of the Act.
8.      Request applicant for specific information if the information sought for is vague or not specific. (Decision No. 249/IC(A)/2006, F.No. CIC/MA/C/2006/00190 dated 07th Sep 2006 Case of Shri BP Singh Vs. CBEC)
9.      File notings are not, as a matter of law, exempted from disclosure.
10.  Every decision has to be conveyed within stipulated period under the signature of designated CPIO/Appellate Authority as the case may be. (Appeal No. 149/1CPB/2006 F.No. PBA/06/234 dated 02nd Nov 2006 Case of Shri PS Pattabiraman Vs. Department of Posts, Tamilnadu Circle). Comments on the appeal should also be sent under the signature of either CPIO or Appellate Authority as per requirements (Copy of decision enclosed).
11.  Any rejection of request for information has to be in terms of the provisions of the RTI Act and the specific provisions applied in a particular should be mentioned while responding to the applicant. (Appeal No. 1CPB/A-4/CIC/2006 dated 10th Feb 2006 Case of Shri Rajesh Pandita Vs. Deptt. Of Posts)
12.  Intimate the detailed particulars of Appellate Authority & time limit for appeal while rejecting/supplying requested information to the applicant. It has further been ruled that the 1st appeal in all cases would lie with the Departmental Appellate Authority and only at the stage of 2nd appeal would the appeal lie with the Central Information Commission (CIC).
13.  Intimate retention period in case of information sought has been weeded out under Record Retention Schedule/Preservation of Records Rules. It would also be advisable to enclose copy of relevant rules or the extract of rules under which weeding of records has been done.
14.  Never advise the appellant to prefer the 1st appeal itself to Central Information Commission on the ground that the decision to deny the information had been taken at the highest level (Appeal No. 1CPB/A-4/CIC/2008 dated 10th Feb 2006 Case of Shri Rajesh Pandita Vs. Deptt. Of Posts)
D.     Misc
15.  Display the particulars of CPIO and Appellate Authority of concerned office at entrance of office for public.
16.  Copies of evaluated Answer Papers are not to be made available to the candidate or others. As and when answer papers are evaluated, the authority conducting the examination and the examiners evaluating the answer paper stand in fiduciary relationship to each other. Hence in fiduciary relationship the disclosure of such information is exempted under Section 8(1)(c). Further it is purely a personal information, the disclosure of which has no relation to any public interest or activity and this has been covered under Section 8 (1)(j) of the Act. (Appeal No. 1CPB/A-2/CIC/2006 dated 06th Feb 2006 Case of Ms. Treesa Irish Vs. Kerala Postal Circle)
Note: The above decision was reviewed by CIC in decision dated 23.04.2007 in complaint No. CIC/WB/C2006/00223, Appeal Nos. CIC/WB/A/2006/00469, & 00394; Appeal Nos. CIC/OK/A/2006/00266/00058/00066/00315 filed by S/Shri Rakesh Kumar Singh and others. The CIC has held that in respect of public authorities, the main function of which is not of conducting examination, but only for filling up the posts either by promotion or by recruitment, be it limited or public, the disclosure of the answer sheets shall be the general rule but each case has to be examined individually to see as to whether disclosure of evaluated answer sheets would render the system unworkable in practice. If that be so, the disclosure of the evaluated answer sheets could be denied but not otherwise. However, while doing so, the concerned authority should ensure that the name and identity of the examiner, supervisor, etc. is in no way disclosed so as to endanger the life or physical safety of such person. If it is not possible to do so, the authority concerned may decline the disclosure of the evaluated answer sheets under Section 8(1)(g). The right to get an evaluated answer sheet does not however, extend to claiming inspection of or getting a copy of the evaluated answer sheets concerning other persons.
(Auth: DG Posts letter No. 101-5/2008-RTI dated 25 Mar 2008)
17.  For disclosure of DPC minutes and copies of ACRs refer decision of CIC in the cases of (i) Dr. Anand Vs. CSIR (Appeal No. CIC/WB/A/2006/00040 dated 24th Apr 2006 and 12th May 2006), (ii) Shri Gopal Kumar Vs. HHQ (F.No.CIC/AT/A/2006/00069 dated 13th Jul 2006, (iii) Mrs. Ranju Prasad Vs. Department of Posts (F. No. PBA/06/195 dated 09th Oct 2006.)
Note 1: The matter regarding disclosure of ACRs under the Act has been examined in consultation with the Department of legal affairs. Clause (j) of sub-section (1) of Section 8 of the RTI Act provides that there is no obligation to give any citizen an information which relates to personal information and disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual unless the Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information. An ACR contains information about the character, capability and other attributes of the official reported upon, disclosure of which to any other person amounts to cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual. Besides, an ACR, as its name suggests, is a confidential document. The Official Secrets Act, 1923 is not completely superseded by the Right to Information Act. Sub Section (2) of Section 8 of the 2005 Act gives discretion to the public authority to disclose or not to disclose the ACRs of an officer to himself or to any other applicant. Thus, the Public Authority is not under obligation to disclose ACRs of any employee to the employee himself or to any other person in as much as disclosure of ACRs is protected by Clause (j) of sub-section (1) of Section 8 of RTI Act; and an ACR is a confidential document, disclosure of which is protected by the Official Secrets Act, 1923. However, the public authority has discretion to disclose the Annual Confidential Reports of an employee to the employee himself or to any other person, if the public authority is satisfied that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests. If it is felt that public interest in disclosure of ACR of any employee outweighs the protected interests, decision to disclose the ACRs should be taken with the approval of the competent authority. Competent authority in the matter may be decided by the concerned public authority.
(Auth: DG Posts letter No. 10/20/2006-IR dated 21st September 2007)
Note 2: The above decision was reviewed by CIC in decision dated 21.09.2007 in decision No. 1264/1C(A)/2007 dated 21st Sep 2007 on the appeal filed by Ms. Girja Koul before the CIC. The Central Information Commission has held that the appellant has grievances relating to her promotion and she has already taken up the matter with the court, which would surely ensure justice to her. As regards, the information asked for by her, the CPIO is directed to furnish the copies of DPCs held in 2005 and 2006, after due application of Section 10(1) of the Act. The CPIO should also indicate the reasons for denial of promotion to her provided of course; the information is available in ‘any material form’.
(Auth: DG Posts letter No. 101-5/2008-RTI dated 06th May 2008)
18.  While going through the above cited decisions of CIC, it is recommended that the decisions be gone through in totality, so that the context be understood fully. While following the above noted clarification/guidelines, it is also requested to regularly monitor the websites of Central Information Commission (CIC) and Department of Personnel & Training (DOPT), which is nodal department in respect of RTI matters in addition to the Department of Post’s website for their decision & instructions on RTI matters for effective implementation of the Act. The website address of these offices are as under:-
Central Information Commission (CIC) :
Department of Personnel & Training (DOPT):
Department of Posts :
(Auth: Department of Posts letters No. 3-4/2006-PG dated 02nd March 2006 & 19th Dec 2006)


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