CIC spikes plea for legal awareness scheme details

The cardinal principle of Indian legal system is, “Ignorance of law is no excuse to save one from liability.” But when a man sought to know from the government if it has ever launched a programme to teach illiterate people about its significance, his plea was shot down by the Central Information Commission.

The panel ruled that the plea “cannot be described as material information” which could be furnished under the Right to Information Act. 
 
The information seeker’s bid to get details from the Law Ministry if it has ever launched programmes to make the common man aware of the significance of different statutes, was also turned down.

Advocate Anshu Kumar filed an RTI plea with the Law Ministry, seeking information if the principle of the Indian legal system that ignorance of law does not save one from liability could be applied to an illiterate person. He also wanted to know if ever any programme had been relayed on radio and television to make an illiterate person understand laws of the country.

If programmes had been telecast, he sought the details and, if not, then the reasons for not broadcasting such a programme.

The public information officer informed Kumar that he had not sought any specific information relating to the legislative department.

Further, he pointed out, according to Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, the petitioner’s right “extends” only to seek material information either by pinpointing the file, documents, paper or record, or by mentioning the type of information be available with the public authority.

Kumar was not satisfied with the response. He went on appeal, which was rejected on the ground that he had already been asked to visit the Ministry’s websites for such information.

He then decided to approach the Central Information Commission.

Information Commissioner Sushma Singh decided not to interfere with the PIO’s response stating, the information as sought by the appellant does not fall within the meaning of “information as contained under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act.”

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