A copy of the Recovery of Debts & Bankruptcy Act, 1993 was sought - PIO: Information is available on the internet - CIC: Information which is available in public domain, ceases to be an information accessible under the RTI Act & hence, cannot be provided
O R D E R
1. The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Repco Bank T Nagar Chennai-600017 seeking a copy of the Recovery of Debts and Bankruptcy Act, 1993.
2. The appellant filed a second appeal before the Commission on the grounds that the information sought has not been furnished to him. The appellant had requested the Commission to direct the CPIO to provide the relevant information and compensate for the detriment suffered under section 19(8)(b) In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered; of the RTI Act, 2005.
3. The appellant Shri Y Akbar Ahmed attended the hearing through videoconferencing. The respondent Shri Venkatachalam, General Manager and CPIO along with Shri Balaraj, AGM (Legal), REPCO Bank, Chennai attended the hearing through video-conferencing.
4. The appellant submitted that he had requested for a copy of the Recovery of Debts and Bankruptcy Act, 1993 and the same has not been provided to him as yet.
5. The respondent submitted that the appellant was informed vide letter dated 05.01.2018 that the information sought for, is readily available on the internet, and hence, is in public domain.
6. The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that, as per the respondent, the information sought by the appellant is available on the internet. The RTI Act mandates every public authority to provide as much information to the public including through internet so that the public have minimum resort to the use of the RTI Act to obtain information. Further, once information has been provided in public domain and on the website, the information is no longer held by or under the control of any public authority.
7. The Commission further notes that the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Registrar of Companies & Ors. vs. Dharmendra Kumar Garg & Ors. [W.P.(C) 11271/2009] dated 01.06.2012 had observed:
“9. Section 2(j) “right to information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to- (i) inspection of work, documents, records; (ii) taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records; (iii) taking certified samples of material; (iv) obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device; of the RTI Act speaks of “the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority. … This should mean that unless an information is exclusively held and controlled by a public authority, that information cannot be said to be an information accessible under the RTI Act. Inferentially it would mean that once a certain information is placed in the public domain accessible to the citizens either freely, or on payment of a pre-determined price, that information cannot be said to be 'held' or 'under the control of' the public authority and, thus would cease to be an information accessible under the RTI Act.”
8. In view of the above, information which is available in public domain, ceases to be an information accessible under the RTI Act and hence, cannot be provided to the information seeker.
9. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.
10. Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Akbar Ahmed v. CPIO, REPCO Bank in Second Appeal No. CIC/RCFDB/A/2018/111047 Y, Date of decision 29.07.2019
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2019/CIC/1490
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission