Public authorities are usually at the receiving end of the Central Information Commission. But the tables were turned recently, when in two cases under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, CIC reprimanded information seekers for 'harassing' public authorities.
In both the cases, the information seekers or applicants were disgruntled former employees. In the first case, Hyderabad's K Gopinath had applied to All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Technology University for diverse information.
When the case reached CIC, the Commission found that most of the information has been given to the applicant. CIC noted that in a period of 3-4 months, Gopinath had put in as many as 67 applications to JNTU, where he had worked and from where he was subsequently dismissed.
"In the present case, the applicant who had been dismissed by the organisation on disciplinary grounds four months back, has since then flooded different organisations with RTI applications asking for diverse pieces of information," the Commission said.
It also observed that the three organisations had done their best to satisfy Gopinath.
"The applicant as a citizen of India has every right to resort to the RTI Act and ask for any and every information subject to the limitation prescribed by the Act...The Commission would like to appeal to such applicants to desist from using the RTI Act in a manner that would amount to harassment of public authorities without fulfiling the basic objectives of the Act," the Commission observed.
In a similar case, a Rajasthan resident Faqir Chand had filed two applications with North Western Railway (NWR), Jaipur, and despite receiving the information approached CIC.
On questioning, Chand admitted that he had been 'harassed' by NWR while in service. Chand, who has since
retired, decided to harass NWR by asking extensive information under the RTI Act.
The application was disposed off after the Commission made it known that the Act was not an instrument to "settle scores".
I feel that CIC should not show undue favors to public servants. Citizen must be supplied each &every information that is available in deptt. Need of the citizen must be weighted judiciosly by info. commissioner.
I have filed many RTI applications to various departments and almost in all the cases the authorities has replied me only after I have send them reminder after 30 days.
In one of such cases I had to approach CIC after the PIO and AA has not replied to me after repeated reminders. As the copy of appeal at CIC was also send to the PIO and AA they supplied me the information which was dated one week back. Also the supplied information was of little use to me as it was for the month in which I filed the RTI application i.e. 4 months old.
Now when my case come up for hearing (it is still pending in CIC), CIC can blame me also with the same remarks.
You should stop your practice of sending reminders. You have to ensure that your RTI application has been received in the PIOs office, wait for 30 days and prefer the first appeal straight.
In cases where the delayed information is futile, second appeals will not be of any use. The CIC is not likely to attend to a second appeal within an year unless of course the applicant is an antinational. It is seen recently that in such a case the CIC go out of turn to go to his place (in Jail) to enquire the case.