Recently, in Vishwas Bhamburkar v. PIO, Housing & Urban Development Corporation Ltd., CIC/HUDCO/C/2017/164658, the Central Information Commission (CIC) was confronted with an issue relating to denial of information on lack of producing identity proof by the Applicant under the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005.
In this case, the Applicant held misuse of funds of The Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited (HUDCO) and therefore filed an RTI Application seeking information about the amounts spent from the funds of HUDCO on gifts for years 2013 to 2016, renovation of official residence of its Chairman and Managing Director, electricity bills of official residence. The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) stated that information could not be furnished by them as the Applicant failed to provide proof of identity and proof of address by producing Aadhar Card, Voter’s ID Card or Passport as proof of citizenship.
The CIC criticized the CPIO’s act in not furnishing information to the Applicant and made the following observations:
- The Right to Information Act, nowhere prohibited ‘person’ from securing the information due to failure to prove citizenship. A person cannot be denied information on the pretext that he did not produce proof of citizenship.
- That the CPIO can deny information only under Section 8 (exemption from disclosure of information) and Section 9 (grounds for rejection to access in certain cases) of RTI Act. It cannot invent new grounds for denial like lack of Aadhar Card, Voter Id Card, and Passport etc.
- Section 6(2) of RTI Act says an applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.With reference to the facts of the present case the CIC observed that the Applicant gave address to which information could have been dispatched.
The Indian Law