CIC Dismisses 1,282 Appeals In One Order [Read Order]
RTI applicants are expected to not transgress the spirit of the RTI Act and resort to clogging the functioning of the public authority by filing mundane RTI applications merely claiming that it is intrinsic to fighting corruption, the commission observed.
Central Information Commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha has dismissed 1,282 appeals filed by retired Wing Commander of the Indian Air Force Sanjeev Sharma.
These appeals arose from numerous RTI applications filed by Sharma against different commands.
According to the applicant, these RTI queries were made for venting corrupt practices within Air Force establishments and to bring in transparency in several Air Force ventures.
Countering the claims, the Air Force said these applications arise out of Sharma’s vindictive intent, meant only to harass the public authority for perceived injustice meted out to him while in service.
CIC Sinha said: “However noble the end of this vociferous attempt of bringing about probity in the functioning of IAF would have been, fact remains that the means adopted by the Appellant regrettably speaks volumes of his ignorance of the spirit of the RTI Act.”
The commission also, while dismissing his appeals, said it itself feels constrained to not order any relief, as at this stage, limiting the information sought appears neither conducive nor providing inspection seems feasible, to circumvent the prima-facie legitimate application of Section 7(9) of the RTI Act in the instant appeals.
The commission also observed that RTI applicants are expected to not transgress the spirit of the RTI Act and resort to clogging the functioning of the public authority by filing mundane RTI applications merely claiming that it is intrinsic to fighting corruption.
“Appellant is a learned advocate apart from being an ex-serviceman, such recourse to RTI Act is perhaps more of an abuse of the process of law,” the CIC said.
The commission also said it would have been cogent if the RTI applications were filed systematically in a structured manner which would have avoided the apparent relentless prejudice done to valuable resources of time, money and paper.
However, the commission also opined that the kind of time and resources spent by Sharma in filing these RTI applications and appeals do speak of certain kind of accountability which appears to be lacking in the IAF. The following advisories were issued:
- The number of CPIOs and APIOs should be increased in all commands and there should be at least one CPIO and one APIO at every unit or station level.
- It should be incumbent on the controlling officers to conduct appropriate workshops and sensitisation programmes for the CPIOs and FAAs regarding the various provisions of the RTI Act.
- As is evident from the issue at hand that the crux for filing of these RTI applications has been the lack of transparency in the operation and execution of the activities of non-public fund ventures. A considered attempt should be made to bring such information which affects the fees and subscriptions deposited by the members of IAF fraternity in public domain, so that the paraphernalia around the probable misuse of such funds is not attributed to deliberate and malafide tactics.
- There is no doubt that establishments, where funds are raised from member contributions, remain at the risk of misappropriations and unaccountability. Therefore, it is in the best of interests that there should be maximum disclosure and minimum restraint on nondisclosure of the working and management of these NPFs.
Read the Order here.