Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To compile or not to compile? Yes, you have to compile!

Many times PIOs reject requests saying that they need not create or compile information from various sources taking shelter under section 2(j) which defines right to information among other things as the right to information …which is held by or under the control of any public authority...
Earlier Decisions of CIC added confusion by deciding that public authorities need not create information afresh:
• "PIO of any public authority is not expected to create and generate a fresh, an information because it has been sought by an appellant. The appellant is advised to specify the required information, which may be provided, if it exists, in the form in which it is sought" [285/IC(A)/2006-20.9.2006]
• "Information is to be provided in the form in which it is sought, provided of course the information is available in that form. The appellant should therefore ascertain whether the information that he needs are available in the form required by him." [225/IC(A)/2006-31.8.2006]

Yesterday CIC ended this debate with a wonderful Decision favoring citizens.
"Under Rule 4 (a) of the RTI Act (Regulation of Fee & Cost Rules) 2005 which came into force on September 16, 2005 a fee is expected to be charged for each page "created or copied", which indicates that all information held by or under the control of any public authority is accessible to the public as is covered by the `right to information' defined in sec. 2(j), even when it needs to `collected'." [Complaint No.CIC/WB/C/2007/00345-Decision date:18.02.2008]Indian RTI Act clearly demands creation of information. This is reflected in section 4. Section 4(1)(c) requires publication of relevant facts while formulating important policies etc. and Section 4(1)(d) requires disclosure of reasons for administrative or quasi-judicial decisions.

-Srinivas Madhav
[posted on the HJ group]
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