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  1. #1
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    Sidharth
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    CIC clears ambiguity on rights of associations under RTI law


    CIC clears ambiguity on rights of associations under RTI law
    As Reported in Outlook India on MAR 11 (PTI)

    The transparency law which provides citizens a right to seek information does not allow associations to file RTI pleas in their own name, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held.

    The CIC's decision came as it upheld the Income-Tax department's refusal to share details under the RTI law with the Cuttack Tax Bar Association (CTBA). The CIC concurred with the I-T department to note that CTBA on its own could not be construed a "citizen" and allowed access to details under the law.

    Even as the I-T department submitted that section 3 of the RTI Act-2005 entitles "citizens" to invoke their right to information, the CTBA contended that section 6(1) laying down procedures for obtaining information gives the right to "any person."

    The Association had said that the word "person" which was not explicitly defined under the RTI Act required a liberal interpretation, for which it referred to the provisions of the General Clauses Act.

    It was submitted that the word "person" has been defined under the General Clauses Act to include any company or association or body of individuals.

    "The RTI Act confers the right not on all 'persons' but only on 'citizens' and there is no ambiguity about the term 'citizen.' A juristic person can be a 'person' but he can not be a citizen," a full bench of CIC headed by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said while turning down CTBA's contention.

    The Commission in its 25-page order brushed aside as "untenable" CTBA's arguments that section 3 of the RTI Act was a "declaratory" provision and it was section 6(1) that conferred the right to seek information.
    Clearing the ambiguity in interpretation between the two provisions, the CIC said that while section 3 was the leading provision of the RTI Act, section 6(1) covered the procedural aspects and was hence a subordinate provision.

    "Apparently, there is no conflict between the two provisions and even if there is any, under the Rules of Interpretation of Statute, a subordinate provision has to give way to a leading provision," the bench said.
    CTBA in its RTI application of September six, 2006 sought from the I-T department in Cuttack (Orissa) details about tax returns filed between April 2005 to August 2006. It also sought to know information about pending refund matters.

    After the CTBA's application was summarily rejected on grounds that the body on its own was not entitled to move an RTI application, the association moved an appeal before the statutory panel.

    CTBA, in its appeal petition had said that it was a society formed for the benefit of advocates and was registered under the Societies Registration Act. It claimed that the fact that it was constituted of natural citizens should entitle it to seek information under the transparency law.

    The Commission during the hearing took note of the fact that the RTI plea was filed in the name of CTBA and its letter head did not signify identity of its undersigned Secretary Gopinath Padhi. Notably, CTBA's subsequent appeal contained the name of its subsequent Secretary Natbar Panda.

    Dismissing CTBA's information plea, the bench said, "It leaves no doubt that it is the Association which is the applicant and the appellant as a distinct legal entity and the Association or its Secretary in its official designation can not be treated as 'citizen' under the law."

    The order of the CIC is available here.
    http://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_03032008_05.pdf


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    Re: CIC clears ambiguity on rights of associations under RTI law


    Yes it is good decision to stop the misuse of RTI because RTI may be misused by only assciations by the power of huge money.

  3. #3
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    C J Karira
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    Re: CIC clears ambiguity on rights of associations under RTI law


    Please also read the following thread:

    http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/328-ca...html#post12257
    Twitter: @cjkarira

  4. #4

    Re: CIC clears ambiguity on rights of associations under RTI law



    I think this is a bad decision. RTI stands for transparency in government. If a private citizen can obtain some information, then that information is public information. Anyone should be able to obtain it. A person who gets information from PA, can publish it on internet, or give it to an association, so what is the point of limiting the disclosure to "citizens" only?

  5. #5
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    Bimal Kumar Khemani
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    Re: CIC clears ambiguity on rights of associations under RTI law


    I would like to request my friends to go through the decision WB/C/2007/00104 and 00105 delivered by Sri Wajahat Habibulla,
    Chief Central Information Commissioner, and get themself updated.
    Bimal Khemani


    Quote Originally Posted by sidmis View Post
    CIC clears ambiguity on rights of associations under RTI law
    As Reported in Outlook India on MAR 11 (PTI)

    The transparency law which provides citizens a right to seek information does not allow associations to file RTI pleas in their own name, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held.

    The CIC's decision came as it upheld the Income-Tax department's refusal to share details under the RTI law with the Cuttack Tax Bar Association (CTBA). The CIC concurred with the I-T department to note that CTBA on its own could not be construed a "citizen" and allowed access to details under the law.

    Even as the I-T department submitted that section 3 of the RTI Act-2005 entitles "citizens" to invoke their right to information, the CTBA contended that section 6(1) laying down procedures for obtaining information gives the right to "any person."

    The Association had said that the word "person" which was not explicitly defined under the RTI Act required a liberal interpretation, for which it referred to the provisions of the General Clauses Act.

    It was submitted that the word "person" has been defined under the General Clauses Act to include any company or association or body of individuals.

    "The RTI Act confers the right not on all 'persons' but only on 'citizens' and there is no ambiguity about the term 'citizen.' A juristic person can be a 'person' but he can not be a citizen," a full bench of CIC headed by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said while turning down CTBA's contention.

    The Commission in its 25-page order brushed aside as "untenable" CTBA's arguments that section 3 of the RTI Act was a "declaratory" provision and it was section 6(1) that conferred the right to seek information.
    Clearing the ambiguity in interpretation between the two provisions, the CIC said that while section 3 was the leading provision of the RTI Act, section 6(1) covered the procedural aspects and was hence a subordinate provision.

    "Apparently, there is no conflict between the two provisions and even if there is any, under the Rules of Interpretation of Statute, a subordinate provision has to give way to a leading provision," the bench said.
    CTBA in its RTI application of September six, 2006 sought from the I-T department in Cuttack (Orissa) details about tax returns filed between April 2005 to August 2006. It also sought to know information about pending refund matters.

    After the CTBA's application was summarily rejected on grounds that the body on its own was not entitled to move an RTI application, the association moved an appeal before the statutory panel.

    CTBA, in its appeal petition had said that it was a society formed for the benefit of advocates and was registered under the Societies Registration Act. It claimed that the fact that it was constituted of natural citizens should entitle it to seek information under the transparency law.

    The Commission during the hearing took note of the fact that the RTI plea was filed in the name of CTBA and its letter head did not signify identity of its undersigned Secretary Gopinath Padhi. Notably, CTBA's subsequent appeal contained the name of its subsequent Secretary Natbar Panda.

    Dismissing CTBA's information plea, the bench said, "It leaves no doubt that it is the Association which is the applicant and the appellant as a distinct legal entity and the Association or its Secretary in its official designation can not be treated as 'citizen' under the law."

    The order of the CIC is available here.
    http://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_03032008_05.pdf

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