Chief Information Commissioner RK Mathur has directed the Prime Minister’s Office to explain the delay in transferring RTI applications to departments concerned matters relating to the appointment of information commissioners, proposed RTI rules, among others. The orders came on petitions of Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd), who had sought to know the details of the file notings related to the appointment of information commissioners, proposed RTI rules, 2017 and a travel bill of the prime minister through his four RTI applications. According to the Right to Information Act, when an application is made to a public authority requesting for an information — which is held by another public authority or the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, the application is transferred. “Provided that the transfer of an application pursuant to this sub-section shall be made as soon as practicable but in no case later than five days from the date of receipt of the application,” Section 6(3) of the RTI Act states. Batra said that he requested for the information pertaining only to the PMO’s records.
During the hearing, Batra stated he has experienced that prolonged delays in providing information by the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), PMO, has become a routine matter. “They are doing this persistently, even after cautionary directions in his earlier cases. The appellant stated that the respondent has caused wrong,” Mathur noted in his order citing the submissions of Batra. The CPIO of the PMO told the commission that the delay in providing the information and inspection was not malafide.
“The respondent (the PMO) is directed to give reasons in writing for not transferring the RTI application as per the RTI Act, within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order,” Mathur said in each of his four orders.