S. 7(9) of RTI Act cannot be invoked to deny the information sought

Central Information Commission: The Commission recently dealt with an RTI application in which the appellant had sought information regarding the month and year of release of 500 rupee notes of the series mentioned in the application. The CPIO, RBI presented its defense under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act stating that the information was not available in the form in which it was sought and collecting the same would divert disproportionately the resources of the Bank.

In the appeal before the Commission, the respondent contended that there are four printing presses in all and after the notes are printed, the presses send them to 19 regional offices from where these are sent to four thousand plus currency chests and finally, to the banks and the public.

The Commission pointed out to the respondent that Section 7(9) cannot be invoked to deny the information, but it only casts a positive duty on the authorities to provide the information in the very form it is sought. Information Commissioner Sharat Sabarwal also asked the respondents as to in which form they could provide the information. It was answered by them that they would send the RTI application to four printing presses so that they can inform the appellant about the dates on which the notes of the series he asked about were sent for the first time to the nineteen regional offices.

In light of the foregoing discussion, the Commission directed the CPIO to transfer the application to the printing presses within the next 5 days and prescribed a time-limit of 30 days to the printing presses to furnish the information. [Mukesh Singhal v. CPIO, RBI, CIC/MP/A/201/001984/SH, decided on 07.09.2017]

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