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  1. #1
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    Default Definition of 'Information'


    Definition of 'Information'

    Posted by shailesh gandhi on Thursday, July 10, 2008

    When using the Right to Information, it is necessary to understand
    what is 'information'. We will look at the definition given in the Act
    and then attempt to understand what it means.

    The Act defines 'information' in Section 2 (f):

    2 (f) "information" means any material in any form, including records,
    documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases,
    circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples,
    models, data material held in any electronic form and information
    relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public
    authority under any other law for the time being in force;
    Comments: In simple terms it means that information is anything, which
    exists in any form with a public authority. The specific instances
    –records, documents, memos, emails, opinions,
    advices,...,reports,..... samples,models,.. are merely meant to
    illustrate the broad scope. Clearly file notings are opinions, legal
    or other opinions obtained by Public authorities, or various reports
    received by them are all covered. This also lays down a very important
    principle. Information relating to any private body, which may not be
    covered by the definition of 'Public Authority' (given in Section 2
    h), can be obtained through a public authority if the law allows the
    public authority to access it. Thus if any public authority has the
    right to ask for any information under the law from a private
    organisation-which is not a public authority;- the Citizen can ask for
    it from the public authority. A few illustrative examples of how
    information may be obtained from institutions which are not Public
    authorities:
    a) Information about a private bank can be obtained from the regulator
    –Reserve Bank of India,- if the law permits RBI to ask for it. Most
    information of any significance can be accessed.
    b) Information about a private unaided school--from the education department.
    c) Information about a Public Limited Company –from the Registrar of
    Companies or SEBI if the law empowers them to ask for it.
    d) Information about a Cooperative Society-from the Registrar of
    Cooperative Societies.
    e) Information about Trusts-from the Charities Commissioner.

    There is some difference of opinion on whether the term 'accessed'
    means any information which the authority can ask for under various
    provisos or the information which the authority is usually supposed to
    get under the law.

    As an example: The Labour office requires certain information to be
    submitted at certain intervals- this certainly can be accessed under
    Right to Information, since all information with the State is held on
    behalf of the Citizen. However, the labour office during an
    investigation, can access virtually all the records of an organisation
    which normally would not be done. Some RTI users argue that this
    proviso can therefore be used to mean any information of a private
    organisation can be obtained through any Public authority by invoking
    the special investigative powers of the Public authority.

    Such a wide interpretation would actually mean that all private
    organisations could be forced to disclose all the information with
    them. Most Commissions do not agree with this view, and I am inclined
    to agree with their view. Only the information normally accessed by
    the Public authorities come under the ambit of RTI. On the other hand
    all information with the Public authority, is certainly information
    covered by the Right to Information Act. The Public authority holds
    the information on behalf of Citizens-the owners and masters of the
    Government,-on their behalf. Shri Laxmi Chauhan had asked for certain
    information from the PIO of the Ministry of Mines about BALCO. This
    was refused by the PIO. The CIC in its decision in this case in
    No.CIC/AT/A/2007/00389 has categorically stated, "The information must
    be available in the annual report of the company, which under law is
    to be submitted to shareholders. Being a shareholder of the company,
    with representation on its Board of management, the information sought
    must be available with the Ministry of Mines, and what is available
    with the Ministry cannot be denied to an applicant under the Right to
    Information Act."

    Thus, once any information is with a Public authority, it is
    information available to any Citizen under the Right to Information
    Act, subject to the provisions of the Act. Repeatedly, the Act
    recognises that what is with the Government is on behalf of the
    Citizen, who is the rightful master.

    by shailesh gandhi

    The above article is posted by sri sailesh gandhi in his blog post here.

    Satyamevajayate: Definition of 'Information'



  2. #2
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    JV
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    Default Re: Definition of 'Information'


    I feel that information can still be defined in wider sense.

  3. #3
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    C J Karira
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    Default Re: Definition of 'Information'


    JV,

    A lot depends on:

    1. The framing of the query in the RTI Application
    2. The arguments put forward during First Appeal and Second Appeal

    The above article By Mr Sailesh Gandhi is just a pointer for RTI applicants.....by no means it covers all the aspects of "information".

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