For More Info Log on to

Google Groups Subscribe to RTI Group
Browse Archives at

Friday, July 17, 2009

CIC's larger bench to rehear scope of Section 7(3) of RTI Act on 17th August

CIC's larger bench to rehear scope of Section 7(3) of RTI Act on 17th August at 4.00pm at ISTM, Old JNU Campus

Dear friends,

I am writing to once again alert you to an important development involving interpretation of a crucial section of the RTI Act. A larger bench of the CIC will rehear the matter regards the ambit and scope of section 7(3) of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) on 17th August 2009 at 4.00pm.

You may recollect that the Central Information Commission had issued a public notice in November 2008 inviting submissions from people on the scope and ambit of section 7(3) of the RTI Act. That notice may be accessed at the Public Notices Section of CIC website (
CHRI and a few other parties had submitted their views on how this important section relating to additional fees must be interpreted. The matter related to a second appeal pending before the CIC involving appellant Mr. K K Kishore and the respondent, Institute of Company Secretaries (ICS). ICS argued that 7(3) allows the PIO to charge wages of officers, search fees, collation and compilation costs and other similar costs on the applicant. We have always strongly opposed this view. A full bench comprising the Chief Information Commissioner Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, Information Commissioner, Prof. M A Ansari and Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra heard the
case on 24th February, 2009. Two civil society representatives - Shri Sarbajit Roy and Shri Rakesh Gupta were present in addition to CHRI representatives. No public authority except ICS was present at this hearing. CHRI and other civil society representatives argued that there was no scope in 7(3) for forcing the applicant to pay all kinds of fees and charges conceivable under the sun. At the end of the hearing the bench informed us that the decision in this case has been reserved.

In the month of May the CIC decided to rehear the matter on 8th June 2009. A notice inviting submissions on the scope and ambit of sec. 7(3) was sent to all heads of Ministries and PSUs such as Ministry of Personnel, Ministry
of Law, Ministry of Company Affairs, Ministry of Public Enterprises, Chairmen or CMD of the following PSUs: BHEL, BPCL, BSNL, FCI, GAIL, General Insurance Corporation Ltd., IOCL, MTNL, MMTC, National Insurance Corpn.
Ltd., NTPC, ONGC, State Trading Corpn. and SAIL. The notice was copied to me and Shri Roy who had made submissions earlier. From the cc. list it appeared that Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi had replaced Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra on the bench. This hearing was adjourned indefinitely for reasons not made public by the CIC.

Yesterday I received another notice stating that the matter would be reheard by a larger bench on 17th August 2009 at 4.00pm. The hearing will be conducted at the Radhakrishnan Auditorium of the Institute of Secretariat Training and Management (ISTM), Old JNU Campus, New Delhi.

The letter states that the full bench which heard the matter earlier in February decided that the matter should be reheard and all concerned parties including DoPT, Ministry of Public Enterprises and Ministry of Company Affairs and some leading public sector enterprises which are doing commercial activities be invited and notified to file written submissions on the issue and also depute a senior officer to attend the hearing. In other words these public authorities have been invited once again to make submissions on the scope and ambit of sec. 7(3) of the RTI Act. This letter does not contain names of the Information Commissioners who will be on the larger bench. This letter merely states that it has been copied to me and Shri Roy for information. We have not been asked to resubmit our opinion.
Nor does the notice invite suggestions from other members of the general public.

The following questions remain unanswered:

1) Did these select public authorities not make any submissions when they were first notified in May? Are they being given a second opportunity by the CIC? If they do not respond, will the hearing be adjourned again?

2) Why have only a handful of Ministries and PSUs been targeted again?
3) Why does this notice not say that members of the public can also make submissions to the CIC in this matter?

I urge all friends to circulate this email within their networks. Please ensure that you and your friends/collaborators send submissions on the scope and ambit of sec. 7(3) in large numbers to the CIC. Please advise the CIC that the PIO has no power to charge wages, search, collation, compilation at one's whim and fancy under section 7(3). There is no provision for doing so under the RTI Act. You are welcome to use CHRI's submission for formulating
your own arguments. Our submission is copied below. Please send your submissions to the CIC at the address given below.

If you will be in Delhi or can make a trip to Delhi on the date of the hearing: 17th August 2009 at 4. 00 pm at Radhakrishnan Auditorium of the Institute of Secretariat Training and Management (ISTM), Old JNU Campus, please do attend the hearing and oppose any move to empower PIOs to charge exorbitant fees for giving information. If you cannot attend please send your written submission to the CIC. If you are too busy to attend the hearing in person please send by email or post the response suggested below .

Venkatesh Nayak
Programme Coordinator
Access to Information Programme
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Suggested Response to be sent by Email/Post:

The Registrar,
Central Information Commission
2nd Floor, 'B' Wing
August Kranti Bhawan
New Delhi- 110 066
Email: pkp.shreyaskar@...> pkp.shreyaskar@...

Dear sir,
We have learnt from our network partners in Delhi that the Central Information Commission is rehearing the matter regards the scope and ambit of section 7(3) of the RTI Act. We believe that this section should not be misused to collect wages, search and compilation or other similar kinds of fees from RTI applicants. The PIO does not have the power to charge such kinds of fees under the RTI Act. We have enclosed our detailed arguments about the scope and ambit of section 7(3) of the RTI Act. We urge you and other Information Commissioners on the bench to take these arguments into consideration while deciding this matter. We urge you not to interpret section 7(3) in a manner that is violative of the letter and spirit of the RTI Act.
with best wishes,

(Signature of the sender)

No comments: