CIC: Public Offices shall Comply with Proactive Disclosure Norms u/RTI

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June 20, 2018

Case name: Mohit Kumar Gupta v. CPIO, University of Delhi 

In the case, the CIC has principally emphasized on the legal proposition that a voluntary disclosure of all information that ought to be displayed in the public domain should be the rule.

In the case, the Appellant had vide his RTI application sought information on 7 points regarding a certified copy of form ‘Provisional Mark sheet’ for issuance of mark sheet of LL.B. Degree course, complete rules and procedures for issuance of mark sheet as well as Degree Certificates for the same and other issues related thereto.

The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) however did not furnish the requisite information and stated that the information sought by the Appellant was related to personal information of the student and he was requested to visit the “Information Section” personally along with other documents to obtain the information.

In Appeal, the CIC (Chief Information Commissioner) noted that the information sought by the appellant should be suo motu disclosed as per Section 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act, 2005 for the ease and convenience of the public at large.

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.

That an open government, which is the cherished objective of the RTI Act, can be realized 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 CIC made reference to plethora of cases in the case and also relied on Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of CBSE and Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors.[1], wherein it was held that the right to information is a cherished right. Information and right to information are intended to be formidable tools in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring in transparency and accountability. The provisions of RTI Act should be enforced strictly and all efforts should be made to bring to light the necessary information under Clause (b) of Section 4(1) of the Act which relates to transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in discouraging corruption.[2]

In the case, the Apex Court had upheld the right of an examinee to access his evaluated answer-books, by either inspecting them or take certified copies thereof and had observed that the examining bodies (Universities, Examination Boards, CBSC etc.) are neither security nor intelligence organisations and therefore the exemption under Section 24 of the RTI Act will not apply to them. 

In view of the precedents and facts of the case, the CIC directed the Respondent to re-examine the RTI application and provide a point wise response to the Appellant within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of this order.

The entire case can be accessed here.

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[1] 2011 (8) SCC 497

[2] Sayyed Education Society v. State of Maharashtra, WP 1305/2011