Rumu Banerjee| TNN |

NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that RTI cannot be used as a tool to exert pressure for commercial gains.

The order came on a complaint filed by the editor of a magazine against the Dargah Khwaja Sahib Ajmer, which he complained had denied him information under the RTI Act.

The appellant had complained against the public information officer of the dargah, who he said had denied him information under the RTI Act.

The appellant had sought information on complaints filed against employees of the dargah and the status report of the inquiry conducted by the dargah.

In his order, information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu, while directing the dargah to furnish the information to the appellant, observed that RTI Act could not be used “to build pressure” for personal gains.

The observation came after the public information officer of the dargah said the RTI applications were filed after the dargah stopped giving advertisements in the magazine edited by the appellant. The appellant, in a counter argument, had said that he had a “right” to the advertisements.

In the order, Acharyulu said, “As a journalist, appellant has every right to criticise the functioning of public authority. As a citizen, he can also file RTI application. But he has no right to demand advertisements for his magazine building pressure of RTI applications.”

Acharyulu also cited the Press Council of India Act, which allows a public authority to file a complaint against a journalist for unethical conduct, if any.

The reminder came after the appellant said he had also filed a complaint to the Press Council of India against the dargah for not giving advertisement.

The order assumes importance in the backdrop of complaints from several quarters about the misuse of the RTI Act.

While the Act enables citizens to get information from government bodies on a host of issues, complaints of the misuse of the Act as a means of intimidation have also been doing the rounds.