CIC: RTI applicants cannot clog public authorities with mundane applications

Central Information Commission: While relying upon the Supreme Court decision in Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) v. Aditya Bandhopadhyay, (2011) 8 SCC 497, the Information Commissioner Shri Divya Prakash Sinha has held that the RTI applicants shall not resort to clogging the functioning of the public authority by filing mundane RTI applications, and such recourse to RTI Act is an abuse of the process of law.

The appellant had filed approximately 6443 RTI applications to various CPIOs of Indian Air Force that covered subject-matters primarily pertaining to income and expenditure of various forms of Non-Public Funds. He contended that by seeking such multitude of information he aimed to bring in transparency and accountability to IAF. He added that he was forced to file so many RTI applications with one CPIO as there were only 8 CPIOs in the Indian Air Force. The respondents submitted that in each RTI application, appellant has asked for voluminous information which was not readily available and was also cumbersome to compile, and compilation if attempted would disproportionately divert the resources of the organization, accordingly, information was denied under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act.

The CIC noted that it would have been cogent for the appellant to have filed RTI Applications systematically in a structured manner, with specific requests bringing them clearly within the definition of Section 2(f) of the RTI Act. It was also observed that at no particular stage during the pendency of the appeals did it appear that the respondents had adopted deliberate tactics for not parting with the information sought. The Commission thus concluded that the application of Section 7(9) of the RTI Act in the instant appeals was legitimate. However, in its advisory opinion, the Commission admitted that the lack of sufficient number of CPIOs/APIOs in IAF raised serious concerns, and suggested that there should be at least 1 CPIO and 1 APIO at every unit or station level. [Wg. Cdr. Sanjeev Sharma v. CPIOs, Indian Air Force, 2017 SCC OnLine CIC 534, decided on 18.04.2017]

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