Information under section 2(f) refers to material already available with public authorities; CIC reiterates

Central Information Commission


Central Information Commission: The complainant being dissatisfied with the information being provided by the Public Information Officer (‘PIO’), filed a second appeal under Section 19 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (‘RTI Act’) on the grounds of disclosure of incorrect information before the Central Information Commission (‘The Commission’) wherein the Information Commissioner, Heeralal Samariya held that“ ‘information’ as defined in the section 2(f) of the RTI Act, only refers to such material as is already available in the records of the public authority.”

The appellant had sought the following information:

  1. Inward number and date of receiving subject along with office copy with complete enclosures along with its file noting and name, designation, signature of officials.

  2. File number and total number of pages enclosed in the file which were re: prepared or received for Sno.1 along with signature of the officers.3. Provide the copies of documents/ approvals/letters/notes/orders which were received from/to any other authority mentioned in Sno.1 along with signature of officials.

  3. In case no information exists then provide reasons in records u/s 4.1.d along with name and designation of the official accountable for not taking action along with details of action taken by controlling authority on the erring official.

  4. Name, designation and contact details of controlling authority First Appellate Authority (‘FAA’) disposed of the appeal in accordance with the powers conferred under Section 19(6) of the RTI Act stating that Central Public Information Officer (‘CPIO’) had furnished a reply to the RTI Application and no additional information was available.

The Commission’s Decision

The Commission while navigating through the meaning and interpretation of the word ‘information’ relied upon Section 2(f) of the RTI Act and referred to

CBSE v. Aditya Bandopadhyay, (2011) 8 SCC 497 in which it was held that “where the information sought is not a part of the record of a public authority, and where such information is not required to be maintained under any law or the rules or regulations of the public authority, the Act does not cast an obligation upon the public authority, to collect or collate such non available information and then furnish it to an applicant.” While concluding, the Commission held that a combined reading of the provisions of the RTI Act and the observation of the Supreme Court in Aditya Bandopadhyay (Supra) crystalizes the interpretation and meaning of the word ‘information’ as defined in the section 2(f) of the Act which only refers to such material as is already available in the records of the public authority. In view of the above, the Commission further stated that an appropriate reply had been provided to the appellant by the respondent. Hence, no further intervention of the Commission was required in the matter.

[Varun Krishna v. Public Information Officer, 2023 SCC OnLine CIC 2, decided on 03-01-2022]

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