CIC tells DoPT not to split RTI queries

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has suggested that the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the nodal ministry to frame RTI rules, to refrain from splitting the queries made in one application and instead prepare response after compiling all details.

Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra asked for revising the present system of sending different queries in one RTI application to different information officers.

“Unless the RTI application contains unmanageably a large number of queries, spread over the entire department, the effort must be to compile the information centrally after sourcing it from individual divisions and then to provide information to the information seeker.

“We would like the Chief Public Information Officers (CPIO) to place this before the Secretary of the Department for taking an appropriate decision and to revise the present arrangement,” Mishra said.

The apex body under the transparency law noted that the DoPT had appointed a large number of CPIO for the benefit of the citizens.

“However, RTI applications containing more than one item of information are being split by the RTI cell of the department among many of these CPIOs to respond directly to the information seeker.

 As a result of this, quite often, it is noted that the CPIO representing the individual division/section of the Department responds to the information seeker mechanically by stating that the information is not available or by providing only a piecemeal information,” the Commission said.

The Commission was hearing an appeal filed by noted RTI activist Subhash C Agrawal, seeking information whether the Prime Minister was aware of Justice P B Sawant report allegedly indicting Anna Hazare and if any action was taken on the issue.

The DoPT had responded to Agrawal by saying that it had no idea if the Prime Minister was aware about it or not, but suggested him to approach the Maharashtra government for further details as it had appointed the Sawant Commission.

The Commission, however, rejected a plea of Agrawal to hold CPIO responsible for not transferring his application to Maharashtra government on the ground that he was obliged for it under the RTI Act.

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