While examining the complaint, can CIC direct disclosure of information under S. 18 of RTI Act? CIC answers

Central Information Commission

Central Information Commission (CIC): Neeraj Kumar Gupta (Information Commissioner) addressed a matter wherein it was alleged that the respondent intentionally provided an evasive reply by stating that the information sought was not clear, hence issue of prompt response of CPIO was raised.

Complainant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 before the Central Public Information Officer, Reserve Bank of India seeking the information as under:

CPIO informed the applicant that the information sought was not specific/clear and it was not able to furnish information on the matter.

The complainant filed a complaint under Section 18 of the RTI Act before the Commission requesting to take appropriate legal action against the CPIO under Section 20 of the RTI Act.

Decision

The Commission observed that the preliminary information sought were wide/general and non-specific and largely based on the situational queries.

Further, the complainant contended that information sought had not been provided by the respondent which amounts to deemed refusal of information of the complainant.

Additionally, it was stated that, the CPIO is only a communicator of information based on the records held in the office and hence, he cannot expect to do research work to deduce anything from the material therein and then supply it to him.

Coram observed that while examining the complaint under Section 18 of the RTI Act, 2005, the CIC has no jurisdiction to direct disclosure of any information.

The above-said legal position had been authoritatively settled by the Supreme Court in Chief Commissioner v. State of Manipur, Civil Appeal Nos. 10787-10788 of 2011.

Hence, Commission opined that the respondent has already provided a suitable reply to the complainant and prima facie the adequacy of information cannot be adjudicated by the Commission while examining the complaint and there is no malafide intention of obstructing the information.

Therefore, no action is warranted under Section 20 of the RTI Act.

In view of the above, complaints were disposed of. [Shishir Gupta v. CPIO, RBI; 2022 SCC OnLine CIC 159, decided on 28-3-2022]

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