Jan 2 2021
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that information cannot be denied if citizenship proof is not given along with the Right to Information (RTI) application.
In a recent order, information commissioner Vanaja N Sarna quoted the RTI Act’s Section Section 3 of the Act which reads, “Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information.”
However, Sarna, quoting an earlier judgment, said, “Nowhere does it say, nor imply, that a person would be required to prove his citizenship every time that he was asking for information. Thus, there are thousands of applications which are considered without a person providing a certificate to prove that he is an Indian citizen.”
“This means” , according to Sarna, “That in the rarest of rare cases where there is a doubt that the applicant is indeed an Indian citizen, the Public Authority may ask him for proof. This, however, can only be an exception rather than the rule.”
The order follows a recent incident in which an applicant, R Malik, had sought information from Military Engineering Services, Lucknow, and public information officer (PIO) denied information with the reason that an applicant has not given his citizenship proof.”
Terming the order order “landmark”, Pankti Jog of the Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP), an RTI NGO, said, “In Gujarat as well there have been cases when information is denied if proof of citizenship is not provided.” Calling it a “negative approach of the authorities”, Jog added, this “creates hurdles for the citizens, restricting their access to information.”
Jog noted, “There was a recent incident where Gujarat University PIO asked its student to provide proof of citizenship when copy of the answer sheet was sought under RTI.” She adds, “It is expected that PIO in the public puthorities in Gujarat will now improve their understanding on RTI and make correct interpretation following the recent CIC order.