New Delhi: In an apparent violation of the RTI Act, the Public Information Officer at the Prime Minister`s office has refused to provide information to an applicant saying he failed to show how it was "useful" to him "either personally, socially or nationally".
The reply from the Central Public Information Officer to activist Commodore (Retd) Lokesh Batra came even after clear directions of his superiors, the First Appellate Authority, to disclose the information sought by him.
Among other pieces of information, Batra had sought to know from the PMO the details of files and records which have been digitised and computerised by it as mandated in the Section 4(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act.
Rather than complying with directives of senior officer, CPIO SE Rizvi refused to disclose information saying the query would fall in the category of one "where the applicant has not specified how the information is useful to him either personally, socially or nationally."
Under the Right to Information Act, RTI applicant is not required to give any reasons while seeking information. As per the Act, information can only be denied if it comes under exemption clauses of the transparency law.
Section 4(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act says "every public authority shall maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act.
They have to also ensure that all records that are appropriate to be computerised are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerised and connected through a network all over the country on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated.
Former Chief Information Commissioner A N Tiwari, while replying to a query on the issue, said the CPIO cannot ask how information was useful to RTI applicant and if the applicant approaches Central Information Commission, the Commission can initiate penalty proceedings against him.