I need a piece of suggestion form fellow members.
I had applied to the PIO, Commercial Tax department for some information.
The PIO sent my application to Dpty Commissioner of the geographical division under whom my company falls.
The reply to my application has been signed by the Dy. Commissioner and she has not mentioned her designation as PIO/CPIO but only as Dy. Commissioner.
I plan to go in for appeal (for which I have very very good grounds) for incomplete, incorrect, misleading information.
My question is:
Can two of the grounds (besides the other usual grounds which I have) for appeal be:
- PIO transferred the application to someone else for reply
(this is not allowed under the RTI Act)
- Reply for information was signed by someone else than a PIO/CPIO
I went through some cases of the CIC but there are confusing and contradictory decisions under this subject:
a)Appeal149/ICPB/2006, FNo.PBA/06/234, date: Nov 2 , 2006
In terms of RTI Act, it is the responsibility of the designated PIO/CPIO to deal with applications under the Act and any decision on the same has to be taken by
the said CPIO. In terms of Section 20(1), he can also be penalized for
knowingly furnishing incorrect, incomplete, misleading information etc,. and
therefore, every decision has to be conveyed under the signature of the
designated CPIO. Likewise, comments on the appeal also has to be sent
under his signature as he has to justify the decision taken by him. Therefore,
the CPMG may advise all the CPIOs under her control to ensure that all the
RTI applications are disposed of under their own signatures and that normal
office procedure to convey decisions, is not applicable in communicating
decisions under the RTI Act.
b) Appeal 182/ICPB/2006, FNo.PBA/06/226 Dated: 7th Dec 2006
“In terms of RTI Act, it is the responsibility of the designated
PIO/CPIO to deal with applications under the Act and any decision on
the same has to be taken by the said CPIO. In terms of Section 20(1), he
can also be penalized for knowingly furnishing incorrect, incomplete,
misleading information etc,. and therefore, every decision has to be
conveyed under the signature of the designated CPIO. Likewise,
comments on the appeal also has to be sent under his signature as he has
to justify the decision taken by him. Therefore, the CPMG may advise all
the CPIOs under her control to ensure that all the RTI applications are
disposed of under their own signatures and that normal office procedure
to convey decisions, is not applicable in communicating decisions under
the RTI Act.”
c) Appeal No.48 /ICPB/2006
July 17, 2006
This is yet another case, wherein, in the Ministry of Health, the information has been furnished by the Under Secretary and not by the designated CPIO. Comments have been
furnished by a Director. It appears that a proper system of dealing with RTI applications in terms
of the provisions of RTI Act is not in place in the Ministry. The Secretary of the Ministry will
ensure, that a proper system is established and that RTI applications are handled by designated
CPIO/s and all the replies go under his signature. Likewise, decisions by the Appellate Authority
should also go under his signature.
d) The contrary decision:
Decision No. 42/IC(A)/2006
Dated, the 18
May, 2006 There is no question of denial of information to the appellant. An information is to be
provided in the form in which it exist with the public authority. The appellant’s complaint
that the information was supplied under the signature of Under Secretary is not
acceptable, because under Section 5(4) of the RTI Act, the CPIO may seek the assistance
of any other officer for the proper discharge of his duties.
Is it worth putting these 2 grounds also in the appeal OR because of the contradictory decisions of the CIC, there is no point.
PIO/CPIO may collect information from the field formations under his administrative control for a simple reason that it is not possible for CPIO to have all the information in his own office, especially if the information is person specific.
However, it is logical that all the notices specified under the RTI Act (like notice u/s 11 etc) and all the correspondence with the applicant regarding the RTI application has to be signed by the CPIO. If that was not the case, then there was no need to designate the CPIO's and the applicant could ask for information from any concerned officer. For this purpose, like you have yourself mentioned, the CPIO is usually assisted by a team of officers and/or other staff.
As regards, furnishing of incomplete information, it is the duty of the CPIO to ensure that complete (available) information is given to the applicant. As far as the question of incorrect and misleading information, if the same is sought from a subordinate office, then, in my view, there is no reason that the CPIO should be held responsible for it. The information so called for is recievd officially, and CPIO should have no reason to suspect. If that information is found to be incorrect, then the officer giving incorrect information, and not the CPIO, should be held responsible. This is my personal view as the RTI Act does not provide for this situation, and this situation shall become clear only after interpretation of the Act by the CIC's/judiciary or an amenment.
Under RTI CPIO are required to be designated for all sections. As apaul rightly said it is the duty of CPIO to call for information and for such incorrect /wrong information CPIO is not responsible. CPIO has to ensure all the information available in the jurisdiction is provided.
This is provided in RTI act itself that the concerned officer not the CPIO is responsible 5(5)
Any officer, whose assistance has been sought under sub-section (4), shall render all assistance to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, seeking his or her assistance and for the purposes of any contravention of the provisions of this Act, such other officer shall be treated as a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be.
If the information pertains to jurisdiction of any other CPIO then the application has to be forwarded to the concerned CPIO with information to the applicant within 5 days. Section 6(3)
Where an application is made to a public authority requesting for an information,—
(i) which is held by another public authority; or
(ii) the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority,
the public authority, to which such application is made, shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer:
Provided that the transfer of an application pursuant to this sub-section shall be made as soon as practicable but in no case later than five days from the date of receipt of the application.
This is just G-R-E-A-T !
I sent a email to The Under Secretary and Registrar of CIC
asking for a clarification in this matter of contradicting decisions of CIC regarding Signature of PIO.
The emails are reproduced below:
First of all I would like to congratulate you and other Officers and Staff of the CIC for maintaining a very helpful, up-to-date and easy to navigate website. It has been of tremendous help to us and I am sure that many people have ustilised the information available on your website for using the RTI Act correctly and efficiently.
We have a certain clarification regarding some decisions of the CIC:
Recently , we filed a application under the RTI Act to a SPIO.
The SPIO directed another officer to reply to our application.
The "other" officer replied to the application under her name and normal designation.
We are not aware whether she is a PIO or not.
If it is neccesary for the PIO to sign the reply given to a applicant and
replies should be given under his/her signature only.
DECISIONS OF CIC in this matter:
a) Appeal149/ICPB/2006, FNo.PBA/06/234, Dated: Nov 2 , 2006
b) Appeal 182/ICPB/2006, FNo.PBA/06/226 Dated: 7th Dec 2006
c) Appeal No.48 /ICPB/2006 Dated:July 17, 2006
However there is a contrary decision:
d) The contrary decision:
Decision No. 42/IC(A)/2006 F.No.CIC/MA/A/2006/00218 Dated, the 18th May, 2006
What is the correct position regarding the signature of PIO and also if a PIO can direct some other officer to answer a RTI Application ?
We are asking this clarification due to the contrary decisions in this matter.
C J Karira
Thank you very much. This kind of feedback is always helpful in making
improvements in the existing state of affairs.
In respect of the clarification sought for by you i am to state that a
reply to an RTI request invariably be given under the signature of PIO.
However, if due to some reasons it has been signed by some other officer,
it is only that it has been conveyed by that officer but the onus of so
replying will lie on the PIO.
My final Thanks :
Many thanks for your prompt reply.
I really appreciate your clarification on this matter.
Once again Congratulations for a very helpful, easy to navigate and up to date website.
C J Karira
This shows that CIC works and we can approach them for clarifications.
We must appreciate such help from Officers.
Karira, its really GREAT to know that CIC responds this faster and up to the point, that too via email !!! Thanks for sharing this with us Your detailed email query in this matter is an example for everybody, on how to ask exactly the information we seek.
Last edited by Latha Ramesh; 24-04-07 at 11:57 AM.