CIC | Electronic Voting Machine is “information” in respect of S. 2(f) of RTI Act, 2005

Central Information Commission (CIC): The Bench of Sudhir Bhargava, CIC, while dealing with an issue in respect of Electronic Voting Machine stated that EVM (Electronic Voting Machine) is information under RTI Act.

In the present case, the appellant had filed the application under Right To Information Act, 2005 before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Election Commission of India seeking an Electronic Voting Machine. Appellant filed the second appeal on the grounds that the respondent wrongly denied the information.

Contentions placed by the appellant:

Appellant stated that as per Section 2(f) and 2(i) of the RTI Act, the definition of ‘information’ and ‘record’ includes model or any sample which ultimately qualifies EVM as “information” and should be provided to him under Section 6(1) of the RTI Act. Appellant further requested the commission to direct CPIO, ECI to provide the desired information to him free of cost and impose a penalty against CPIO under Section 20 of RTI Act.

Conclusion [Decision taken by CIC]

CIC Bench concluded its order by stating the definition of information under Section 2(f) of RTI Act, i.e.

Section 2(f) – “Information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, order, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force.”

Therefore, noting the above, the Commission stated that EVM is available in a material form and also as samples, as admitted by the respondent during the hearing, is information under the RTI Act. The contention that the software installed in the EVM is an intellectual property of a third party, disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of the third party concerned, commission directed the CPIO, ECI to provide an appropriate reply, as per the provisions of the RTI Act, since it could not have been denied under Section 6(1) of the Act.

With the above position of facts and circumstances along with the conclusion pronounced, the appeal was disposed of. [Razak K. Haidar v. CPIO, Election Commission of India, Order dated 11-02-2019]

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