Guide For The Central Public Information Officers
The Right to Information Act, 2005 empowers citizens to get information from any 'public authority'. The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of a public authority plays a pivotal role in making the right of a citizen to information a reality. The casts specific duties on him and makes him liable for penalty in case of default. It is, therefore, essential for a CPIO to study the Act carefully and understand its provisions correctly. Following aspects should particularly be kept in view while dealing with the applications under the Act.
What is Information
Information is any material in any from. If includes records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic from. It also includes information relating to any private body which can be accessed by the public authority under any law for the time being in force.
Right to Information under the Act
- A citizen has a right to seek such information from a public authority which is held by the public authority or which is held under its control. This right includes inspection of work, documents and records; taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records; and taking certified samples of material held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority.
- The Act gives the citizens a right to information at par with he Members of Parliament and the Members of States Legislatures. According to the Act, the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature, shall not be denied to any person.
- A citizen has a right to obtain an information in the from of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or though print -outs provided such information is already stored in a computer or in any other device from which the information may be transferred to diskettes etc.
- The information to the applicant should ordinarily be provided in the from in which it is sought. However, if the supply of information sought in a particular from would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or may cause harm to the safety or preservation of the records, supply of information in the that form may be denied.
- The Act gives the right to information only to the citizen of India. It dose not make provision for giving information to Corporations, Associations, Companies etc. which are legal entities/persons, but not citizens. However, if an application is made by employee or office- bearer of any Corporation, Association, Company, NGO etc. indicating his name and such employee/office bearer is a citizen of India, information may be supplied to him/her. In such cases, it would be presumed that a citizen has sought information at the address of the Corporation etc.
- Only such information is requires to be supplied under the Act which already exists and is held by the public authority or held under the control of the public authority. The CPIO is not supposed to create information; or to interpret information; or to solve the problems raised by the applicants; or to furnish replies to hypothetical questions.