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Central Information Commission States That CPIO Is Not Obliged to Respond to RTI Query Based on One’s Personal Opinion

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Facts

The Appellant filed an RTI Application on 11th November 2018. In the application, the Appellant sought information about EVM (Electronic Voting Machines) being a third party between vote and voter.

The CPIO respondent to the Appellant stating that under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act 2005, the desired information is not material form. In the response, the PIO had stated that the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail is an independent system that is linked with the EVM. The PIO further added that Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trial also ensures that the voters were cast as intended. When a vote is cast, the VVPAT prints a slip which contains the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate and is exposed for seven seconds through a transparent window. The slip automatically falls into the sealed drop box of the VVPAT. The Appellant wasn’t satisfied with the CPIO’s response.

The Appellant filed for a First appeal on 26th December 2018. The First Appellate Order was made on 4th January 2019. The Order of the FAA was in support of the reply made by the CPIO.

The Appellant wasn’t satisfied with the FAA’s Order made on 26th December 2018. So, he filed for a Second Appeal on 26th February 2019.

Arguments Advanced

Both the Appellant and the Respondent were present for the hearing through an audio conference. The Appellant side stated that he didn’t receive the desired information. The Respondent replied stating that based on Section 2(f) of the RTI Act 2005, the desired information is not in material form.

Court Observation

The Central Information Commission (CIC) referred to Section 2(f) of the RTI Act 2005 to check whether the information provided by the CPIO was valid. The Commission also checked whether the information defined under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005 had been provided to the Appellant. The Commission also referred to the Bombay High Court case of Dr Celsa Pinto vs. The Goa State Information 2008 in which they were able to find the true definition under the RTI Act. The Commission also found out that the information sought by the Appellant was very subjective.

Decision

The Commission believes that the CPIO has provided the necessary information. It also stated that the PIO was not obliged to answer the question in the RTI Application using his/her personal opinion. The PIO was also not obliged to provide any kind of justification of why the act was performed. Hence the Commission supports the response of the PIO. This Appeal had been dismissed.

Click here to read the judgement.


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