Framework of RTI Act restricts jurisdiction of CIC to provide a ruling on issues pertaining to access/right to information, not venture into merits of case: CIC

Central Information Commission

Central Information Commission (CIC): Neeraj Kumar Gupta (Information Commissioner), decides whether Commission can provide a ruling regarding the merits of a case or redressal of grievance.

Appellant had filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 before the Central Public Information Officer, Life Insurance Corporation of India seeking the following information:

  1. Why my S.R. No. is getting changed? Who is responsible for this change and thereby loss incurred.
  2. Does my other benefits affect due to change of S.R. Number?
  3. My loan was on floating interesting why it is changed to fixed @9.75% without any information. Is there any circular?
  4. My E.M.I’s are always deducted from my salary and sent by my branch. Why there is a gap? Please inform the gap month.
  5. Since the E.M.I’s for the month April 2012, May 2012, June 2012, July 2012 and Aug 2012 are received by HFL Jalandhar. Why the susbsidy is not released.
  6. Our cadre loan is Rs 2075000 but still there is ex cadre loan of Rs 3583 O/S in my case.

The CPIO denied the information as sought by the appellant under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005. Being dissatisfied with the same, the appellant had filed the first appeal and requested that the information should be provided to him, and FAO upheld the CPIOs response and disposed of the appeal. Further second appeal before the Commission was filed to direct the respondent to provide complete and correct information.

Decision

The Commission observed that the queries of the appellant were more in the nature of seeking explanation/opinion/advice from the CPIO and he had expected that the CPIO should first analyse the documents and then provide information to the appellant.

CPIO is not supposed to create information; or to interpret information; or or to furnish clarification to the appellant under the ambit of the RTI Act. As per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, the reasons/opinions/advices can only be provided to the applicants if it is available on record of the public authority. The CPIO cannot create information in the manner as sought by the appellant. The CPIO is only a communicator of information based on the records held in the office and hence, he cannot expected to do research work to deduce anything from the material therein and then supply it to him. 

With regard to the grievance raised by the appellant regarding the reason for a change in S.R. number, Coram observed that the framework of the RTI Act, 2005 restricts the jurisdiction of the Commission to provide a ruling on the issues pertaining to access/right to information and not to venture into the merits of a case or redressal of grievance.

Concluding the matter, the Commission held that the respondent had furnished point-wise reply/information to the appellant on his RTI application and further forwarded his grievance to the department concerned. Therefore, no intervention was required. [Deepak Kumar Joshi v. CPIO, LIC; CIC/LICOI/A/2020/118695; decided on 1-4-2022]

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