January 14, 2019

Definition of Information under Right To Information Act, 2005 & Important Case Laws

The definition of information u/s Section 2(f) of the Right To Information Act, 2005 which is reproduced below:

"Information" means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e- mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, report, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force."

Section 2 (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 which reads as under:

"(j) right to information" means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to—

(i) inspection of work, documents, records;

(ii) taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records;

(iii) taking certified samples of material;

(iv) obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device;


The Hon'ble Supreme Court in CBSE v. Aditya Bandopadhyay, 2011 (8) SCC 497 wherein it was held as under:

"It is also not required to provide 'advice' or 'opinion' to an applicant, nor required to obtain and furnish any 'opinion' or 'advice' to an applicant. The reference to 'opinion' or 'advice' in the definition of 'information' in section 2(f) of the Act, only refers to such material available in the records of the public authority. Many public authorities have, as a public relation exercise, provide advice, guidance and opinion to the citizens. But that is purely voluntary and should not be confused with any obligation under the RTI Act."

The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in Khanapuram Gandaiah Vs. Administrative Officer, Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.34868 of 2009 (Decided on January 4, 2010) had held as under:

"Under the RTI Act "information" is defined under Section 2(f) which provides: "information" means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e- mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, report, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force." 

This definition shows that an applicant under Section 6 of the RTI Act can get any information which is already in existence and accessible to the public authority under law. Of course, under the RTI Act an applicant is entitled to get copy of the opinions, advices, circulars, orders, etc., but he cannot ask for any information as to why such opinions, advices, circulars, orders, etc. have been passed." 

"The Public Information Officer is not supposed to have any material which is not before him; or any information he could have obtained under law. Under Section 6 of the RTI Act, an applicant is entitled to get only such information which can be accessed by the "public authority" under any other law for the time being in force. The answers sought by the petitioner in the application could not have been with the public authority nor could he have had access to this information and Respondent No. 4 was not obliged to give any reasons as to why he had taken such a decision in the matter which was before him."

With regard to untraceable documents in the Respondent Public Authority, the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in Ajay Kumar Gulati v. Pushpender Nath Pandey, W.P. (C) No. 3381 of 2011 30-10-2013 wherein it was inter-alia observed as under: -

"Respondent no. 2 shall file an affidavit stating therein clearly as to whether relevant record has been destroyed and if that is so, whether information with regard to the same has been entered in the Records Destroyed Register. If such a register is maintained, the relevant extract from the said Registrar will accompany the affidavit."

Information relating to Employees

Information relating to name of the persons granted appointment should be disclosed in the public domain for the ease and convenience of all the stakeholders. Voluntary disclosure of all information that ought to be displayed in the public domain should be the rule and members of public who having to seek information should be an exception. An open government, which is the cherished objective of the RTI Act, can be realised only if all public offices comply with proactive disclosure norms. Section 4(2) of the RTI Act mandates every public authority to provide as much information suo-motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including the Internet, so that the public need not resort to the use of RTI Act.

The Hon'ble Delhi High Court in Delhi Development Authority v. Central Information Commission, W.P. (C) No. 12714 of 2009 21-05-2010 wherein it was held as under:

"The information should be easily accessible and to the extent possible should be in electronic format with the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. The word disseminate has also been defined in the explanation to mean - making the information known or communicating the information to the public through notice boards, newspapers, public announcements, media broadcasts, the internet, etc. It is, therefore, clear from a plain reading of Section 4 of the RTI Act that the information, which a public authority is obliged to publish under the said section should be made available to the public and specifically through the internet. There is no denying that the petitioner is duty bound by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 of the RTI Act to publish the information indicated in Section 4(1)(b) and 4(1)(c) on its website so that the public have minimum resort to the use of the RTI Act to obtain the information."

High Court of Delhi in the decision of General Manager Finance Air India Ltd. v. Virender Singh, L.P.A. No. 205 of 2012 16-07-2012 had held as under:

"The RTI Act, as per its preamble was enacted to enable the citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. An informed citizenry and transparency of information have been spelled out as vital to democracy and to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. The said legislation is undoubtedly one of the most significant enactments of independent India and a landmark in governance. The spirit of the legislation is further evident from various provisions thereof which require public authorities to: 

A. Publish inter alia:

i) the procedure followed in the decision making process;

ii) the norms for the discharge of its functions;

iii) rules, regulations, instructions manuals and records used by its employees in discharging of its functions;

iv) the manner and execution of subsidy programmes including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes;

v) the particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted. [see Section 4(1) (b), (iii), (iv), (v); (xii) & (xiii)]. 

B. Suo moto provide to the public at regular intervals as much information as possible [see Section 4(2)]."

As observed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the decision of R.B.I. v. Jayantilal N. Mistry, Transferred Case (Civil) No. 91 of 2015 (Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 707 of 2012 decided on 16.12.2015 "The ideal of 'Government by the people' makes it necessary that people have access to information on matters of public concern. The free flow of information about affairs of Government paves way for debate in public policy and fosters accountability in Government. It creates a condition for 'open governance' which is a foundation of democracy."
Previous Post
Next Post