THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Information Commission (SIC) Secretary’s clarification note on Section 6(3) of the RTI Act has sparked a row with RTI activists flaying it as an ill-advised move.
Section 6(3) of the Act mandates in case an application is made to a public authority seeking information held by other public authority, the application should be transferred to the other public authority.
However, the clarification note dated May 18,2017 citing Official Memorandum (OM) issued by Department of Personnel and Training(DoPT), Government of India stated the public authority need not transfer the application to other public authorities since the Act is not binding on the public authority to collect information from outside. But the secretary’s stand overlooks the fact the OM is not binding on State and Central Information Commission which are statutory bodies, it is said. According to D B Binu, president, Kerala RTI Federation, the clarification note will only help to create confusion and put the onus of gathering information on applicants.
“The legislative intent behind Section 6(3) is clear, to lessen the burden on applicants. It is to ensure applicants do not have to run from pillar to post to get timely information. It is always easier for public authority to transfer application to the authority concerned. A layman may not know which public authority to approach to get information he needs,“ Binu said.
Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Vinson M Paul, meanwhile, told Express the media had been quoting the issue out of context. Whatever the SIC secretary said was done on the basis of OM, he said.
“In case information sought is not available with a particular public authority and the same is held by another public authority, he need not transfer the application to the other public authority or authorities concerned. The applicant has to apply separately to the public authority in possession of such information,” he said, claiming the clarification note had enough clarity. On whether officer is vested with powers to issue such a clarification, Paul said he had indeed been kept in the loop by the SIC secretary on this.
The moot point
Chief Information Commissioner Vinson M Paul said the media had been quoting the issue out of context. Whatever the SIC secretary said was done on the basis of OM, he said.