Indiscriminate Use of RTI Imprudent, Providing Third-party Educational Information Not Within the Ambit of RTI: CIC
The Central Information Commission in M R Nimbalkar vs Guru Ghasidas Vishvidyalaya – CIC/GGVBP/A/2020/694468 – rejected the application of the appellant seeking educational information through the filing of multiple RTI applications as a technique to pressurise public authority to provide information. The appellant had also sought passing certificates and convocation of a third-party student without his consent which, the court agreed, was not to be rightfully obtained by him.
On the numerous filings, as many as 16 RTI applications, Saroj Punhani, Information Commissioner, held:
…that the Appellant has filed numerous RTI Applications for the same nature of information sought by inter changing the serial numbers of information sought in each of his RTI Applications merely to pressurize the public authority into acceding to his request for similar nature of information. It appears that the Appellant has grossly misconceived the idea of exercising his Right to Information as being absolute and unconditional. It is rather unfortunate that even the best of intentions have to not only stand the test of procedural requirements and fetters laid down in the RTI Act but also stand the test of practicality, a notion well recognised by superior Courts through various judgments…
The appellant had sought information through RTI application dated 29.07.2020 &17.08.2020 for the copy of pages of tabulation register, passing certificate and convocation certificate of Dr. C V Raman University Science, Technology, Commerce and Management, Raipur wherein entries of students are recorded by Guru Ghasidas University under Statute 27(A) from 2008 to 2012. The petitioner on not receiving any reply from the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) filed for the first appeal. Aggrieved by the order of the First Appellate Authority (FAA), he approached the Commission.
The Public Information Officer (PIO) stated that the copy of the tabular registration sought by the appellant is not allowed because it was a third-party case where the convocation and passing certificate could be provided to the student alone.
The Commission pointed out that the appellant had made numerous applications for the same matter and misunderstood the idea of RTI as an absolute and unconditional right. Citing the Supreme Court judgement in Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) & anr. v.Aditya Bandhopadhyay and others [(2011) 8 SCC 497] where it was held:
The right to information is a cherished right. Information and right to information are intended to be formidable tools in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring in transparency and accountability… But in regard to other information, (that is information other than those enumerated in section 4(1)(b) and (c) of the Act), equal importance and emphasis are given to other public interests (like confidentiality of sensitive information, fidelity and fiduciary relationships, efficient operation of governments, etc.). Indiscriminate and impractical demands or directions under RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information (unrelated to transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities and eradication of corruption) would be counter-productive as it will adversely affect the efficiency of the administration and result in the executive getting bogged down with the non- productive work of collecting and furnishing information.
In consonance with the observation, the CIC advised the “appellant to make judicious use of his right to information in future,” and disposed of the appeal.
Rasmita Behera | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL