An RTI application cannot be rejected solely on the basis of third party objections in this regard, the MP State Information Commission (MPSIC) said on Thursday.
The commission was hearing an application filed by the person against whom the RTI application requested sharing of information. Rejecting the objection of the third party, Information Commissioner Rahul Singh asked to dismiss the appeal and directed the concerned department to provide information to the RTI applicant immediately. Singh also issued a fine notice of Rs 25,000 to Public Information Officer (PIO) Bhavan Sharma for allegedly obstructing the information for unreasonable reasons.
The RTI application has been filed with the Commercial Tax Department, Satna, seeking information about a department employee named Gajendra Kumar Mishra, his posting, attendance and appointment order. The PIO sought Mishra’s opinion on the application and subsequently referred to it as a piece of personal information, advising to deny the information which the PIO agreed to and has since acted.
The appellant filed the first appeal and the appellate authority directed the PIO to provide information contrary to the earlier order. However, Mishra then went to the Information Commission in Bhopal on a second appeal on 6 December and Information Commissioner Rahul Singh stayed the first appeal order and heard the matter on 8 December.
At the hearing, Singh clarified that section 11 only allows PIOs to seek objections from third parties on RTI applications and section 8 only gives the power to deny their information.
Stating that PIO has not taken any legal course in this regard, IC added that posting, appointment and attendance details do not fall within the domain of public records and personal information under Section 2 of the Act.
The Commissioner clarified that the mere objection of a third party is not enough to deny the information as the information cannot be denied to the Parliament or the Legislative Assembly, it cannot be denied to the RTI applicant. In a detailed order issued on December 15, the commission further stressed that it was aware of the situation where government employees were not available in the office and the general public was annoyed to visit the office. This is why the availability of attendance records under RTI will bring necessary administrative instability as well as transparency in government offices.
“Otherwise, public offices will make room for those who can get paid without coming to the office,” Singh said in the case.
Read all the latest news, breaking news and coronavirus news here.