RTI Act does not make any provision for giving information to Corporations, Associations, Companies, etc. - CIC: If RTI application was filed by an office bearer of any legal entity, indicating his/her name and citizenship, information can be supplied
The Appellant has sought the following information regarding the status of the complaint filed with Shri Manish Kumar M. Chaudhari, on 19/08/2021 at IBBI under section 217 of the Insolvency Bankruptcy Code, 2016 read with Section 7 under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against Mr Sri Gopal Chaudhary, IRP:
1. The stage of the inquiry in respect of the said complaint?
2. Provide details of the steps taken with respect to the said complaint.
3. Whether IRP has been called and questioned regarding the complaint and charges?
4. And other related information.
Grounds for Second Appeal
The CPIO did not provide the desired information stating that only citizens can seek information under the RTI Act, 2005.
Submissions made by Appellant and Respondent during Hearing:
The appellant entity represented through its Director submitted that the CPIO did not comply with the order passed by the FAA. He failed to place on the record of the Commission any fact or document to show that the RTI application in the present case was filed in individual capacity. The CPIO submitted that the RTI application was rejected at the outset as it was not filed by a citizen but a body corporate. The FAA vide his order dated 28.03.2022 while affirming the stance of the CPIO, held that rejecting the information request on technical grounds would not be in the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 and therefore directed the CPIO to supply the information.
Keeping in view the facts and documents on record, the Commission at the outset before going into the merits of the case, adjudicated the aspect of maintainability of the instant second appeal filed by the appellant entity.
In the opinion of the Commission, to decide the maintainability of RTI application filed by the appellant entity, it is appropriate to refer to the text of Section-3 of the RTI Act, 2005 which is as follows:
3. Right to information.- Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information.
The Commission also referred to the relevant excerpts of the “Guide on the Right to Information Act, 2005” published by the Department of Personnel & Training in 2009, which is reproduced below:
16. “The Act gives the right to information only to the citizens of India. It does not make provision for giving information to Corporations, Associations, Companies etc. which are legal entities/persons, but not citizens. However, if an application is made by an employee or office bearer of any Corporation, Association, Company, NGO etc. indicating his name and such employee/office bearer is a citizen of India, information may be supplied to him/her. In such cases, it would be presumed that a citizen has sought information at the address of the Corporation etc.”
The aforesaid excerpt makes it amply clear that the RTI Act, 2005 gives the right to information only to the citizens of India and does not make any provision for giving information to Corporations, Associations, Companies, etc. However, if the RTI application were filed by an office bearer of any legal entity, indicating his/her name and citizenship, in such cases information can be supplied to him / her on the presumption that a citizen has sought the information.
In the opinion of the Commission, such a presumption cannot be drawn in the instant case because the RTI application was filed in the name of Utility Premises Pvt. Ltd through online portal with insufficient as well misleading details. The appellant entity despite being given multiple opportunities by the respondent authority and the Commission failed to adduce details of any individual/representative in whose capacity the RTI application was filed.
Therefore, the Commission upheld the reply of the CPIO and set aside the order passed by the FAA as being non est in the eyes of law.
In view of the above, the Commission concludes that the RTI Application in the instant case and the appeals emanating from it are not maintainable as per the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005.
The second appeal is therefore disposed of as being inadmissible.
Vanaja N. Sarna
Citation: UPPL Projects Pvt Ltd. v. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), File no.: CIC/IBBIN/A/2022/126256, Date of Decision: 09/02/2023