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Central Information Commission States That Setting Aside Matters Without Application of Mind Is Disrespect to RTI Act

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Case: Varun Krishna vs. Department of Economic Affairs


Several Complaints were filed by the Complainant under Section 18 of the RTI Act, 2005. The then CPIO neglected these complaints and there was a delay in the same. Being aggrieved, 44 more complaints were filed before the commission against the CPIO.  

Facts of the Case

The Complainant filed 44 applications under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Department of Economic Affairs, New Delhi, seeking information on various points. Being aggrieved by the response given by the Respondents, the Complainants filed 44 Complaints under Section 18 of the RTI Act before Commission requesting to take appropriate legal action against the CPIO under Section 20 of the RTI Act. 

Arguments placed before Court

It was argued before the court that the CPIO, Shri Dalip Sing has given cyclostyle replies in a large number of cases. The Complainant further contended that the respondent with malafide intention has obstructed the information under the RTI Act and had not applied his mind in filing the reply and averments made therein are frivolous. The Complainant also stated that there was a delay in filing the reply and also vague replies were given. The Complainant further contended that the CPIO in its reply has erroneously given his opinion that “It is not practical and feasible for the Government to create unnecessary records which do not involve public interest” which is beyond the provisions of the RTI Act. 

The Respondent submitted that “only such information is required to be supplied under the Act which already exists and is held by the public authority. It is not required under the Act to create information or to interpret information or to solve the problems raised by the applicants or to furnish replies to hypothetical questions”. He further submitted that the Applicants has filed multiple RTI’S of similar nature thus, there was no malice involved but inadvertent delay in filing its reply. He also tendered an unconditional apology assuring that such mistakes will not happen in the future.

Court’s Observations

The main question here arises that whether there is any malafide intention involved in obstructing the information. The Complainant has contested that there is a malafide intention on the part of the respondent who is willfully obstructing the information. On the other hand, the Respondent contended that there was no malafide intention in denying the information. 

The commission stated that under Section 18 of the RTI Act, the CIC has no jurisdiction to direct disclosure of any information. The commission observed that misleading replies were given to the Complainant. Further, the commission is of the view that the CPIO is not required to give his judgments on the issue but he should have specifically denied that the information sought is not available. The commission is of the view that the CPIO has given the replies to the Complainant with delay without any sufficient cause. Further, the information was also declined by giving a reply and opinion without any sufficient reason. 

Court’s Judgment

The Commission directed the Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs to have the matter examined and to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Shri Dalip Singh while observing that there was complete negligence and laxity by the CPIO in dealing with the RTI applications. The Commission stated that it is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored and set aside without application of mind which reflects disrespect towards the RTI Act, 2005 itself.  

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