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Information through website not enough under RTI

Central Information Commission has directed authorities to make available printed or CD copies of information to RTI applicants even if the same data is available online.

Written by Krishnadas Rajagopal | New Delhi | Published: February 16, 2009 1:52 pm

Posting information on government websites may not be enough under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Central Information Commission has directed public authorities to make available printed or CD copies of information to RTI applicants even if the same data is available online.

“All applicants may not have access to websites. Whereas it is helpful to give information on the website,the Public Information Officer (PIO) must always offer to give the same on a CD or hard copies,” Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said.

The Bench was deciding an appeal filed by Chandigarh resident Harish Kochhar against the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE),which repeatedly referred him to its official website in answer to his RTI queries.

To his first question on whether the CBSE maintained a list of records “essentially submitted to CBSE by affiliated schools on a yearly basis”,the PIO merely stated that schools concerned follow the rules of the Board and directed Kochhar to the education body’s websites http://www.cbseaff.nic.in and http://www.cbse.nic.in.

The Board gave the same pattern of answers to the next eight questions,mostly confining itself to a one-liner “as above Question no. 1”.

“The PIO has given an inadequate reply and that too very late. It is also apparent that there was no reason for the delay. The PIO will give the CD to the appellant free of cost before February 25,” the Bench directed CBSE PIO Rama Sharma. Issuing notice to Sharma to explain why a penalty should not to be levied on her,the Information Commissioner directed the former to produce proof that she had parted with the information to Kochhar.

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