The Central Information Commission has observed that an RTI application cannot be rejected merely for not annexing proof of identity of the applicant.
The authority can demand such proof only in rarest of rare case in which there is doubt about the citizenship status of the applicant, the Commission observed.
R K Malik, had filed an RTI application before Central Public Information Officer, Military Engineer Services. This was rejected on the ground that that the Proof of ID was not found enclosed. While considering the appeal, Information Commissioner Vanaja N. Sarna, referred to an earlier order passed by CIC in this regard in which it was observed as follows:
The Commission considers this attitude of the Respondents as against the spirit of the RTI-Act. Actually Section 3 of the Act reads, 'Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information'. 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 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 commission said that it is not explained how the present case is a rarest of rare case in which there is doubt about the citizenship status of the applicant i.e. he is not an Indian citizen. Directing the authority to provide information as sought for, the commission further observed:
A strict warning is also issued to the concerned CPIO, Engineer in Chief office, for such blatant violation of the RTI Act. He should note that such kind of act amounts to denial of information which violates the letter and spirit of the RTI Act. In case such a mistake is repeated in future by him, the Commission will be constrained to initiate penal proceedings u/s 20 of the RTI Act . Further, in future he should remain present before the Commission for hearing without fail or at least intimate the Commission if he is unable to be present on some valid grounds .