Duties of A Public Information Officer

This article written by Anubhav Pandey highlights the duties of a Public Information Officer to provide with the information filed under RTI Act.

These are the 3 ways of filing an RTI-

Public information officer(PIO)

One should always prefer to send the RTI to PIO as other two ways will add to the additional delay. 5 extra days when RTI is filed through APIO and 10-12 extra days when filed through other public authority.

Only in these cases one should opt for filing through APIO or through other public authority-

  1. When one is not fully confirmed of address of PIO.
  2. When PIO is in a different city and RTI application can be submitted to APIO by hand.

Additional Read: Analysis of Right To Information Act, 2005.

Information Exempted to be Disclosed Under RTI Act, 2005

If an RTI application is rejected, the proper reasoning of rejection along with the time period, within which an appeal against such rejection has to be made, and address of appellant authority with other particulars are to be provided by the Public Information Officer (PIO).

Grounds On Which An RTI Application Can be Rejected Are-

  • When information affecting integrity, security, scientific, economic interest of India is concerned or regarding relation with a foreign country are sought.
  • A person cannot ask the government its strategy which it has planned to adopt during a war.
  • One cannot ask for a blueprint of the information regarding technical aspects of Indian space programs, e.g. asking for the mechanism of the functioning of the cryogenic engine from ISRO.
  • In various cases, the court specifically orders the trial to take place in camera. E.g. rape cases, where court prohibits to publish any information regarding the victim. One cannot ask for such information as for his right granted under RTI Act. Information which has been expressly prohibited for publication by the court cannot be demanded as a right under RTI Act.
  • Speaker of Lok Sabha, when thinks fit, might prohibit for publications of debates of the house for any reasonable reason. Such prohibited debates or in fact any material cannot be demanded as information under RTI Act.
  • When some information demanded is capable of harming any third party, Public Information Officer might reject such application – regarding the disclosure of trade secrets or intellectual property.

Such applications are only entertained when the information seeks results in larger public good and a notice to such affected third party is issued by the Public Information Officer (PIO).

  • Information regarding fiduciary relationship is exempted from disclosure. If a person asks for medical reports of patients being treated in a government hospital, Public Information Officer possesses all such rights to reject requests seeking such information. Also, one cannot ask for cabinet papers.
  • These institutions are not covered under RTI –
  • Intelligence Bureau
  • Research & Analysis Wing
  • Directorate of Revenue Intelligence
  • Central Economic Intelligence Bureau
  • Department of Enforcement
  • Narcotics Control Bureau
  • Aviation Research Centre
  • Special Frontier Force
  • BSF
  • CRPF
  • ITBP
  • CISF
  • NSG
  • Special Service Bureau
  • Assam Rifles
  • Special Branch (CID) Andaman & Nicobar
  • Crime Branch (CID) Dadra And Nagar Haveli
  • Special Branch Lakshadweep Police [1]

Duties of Public Information Officer

  1.  If an information sought by anyone is regarding his life or liberty, such RTI is compulsory to be answered within a time period of 48 hours of the receipt of the request.
  2. If out of various information sought, only a few are being answered by PIO then, it is the duty of Public Information Officer (PIO) to give a reason for not providing with the complete documents demanded and rights of the applicant with respect to review of the decision regarding non-disclosure of part of the information.
  3.  On access to information, the RTI Act empowers citizen with the rights equivalent to a member of Parliament. The information which cannot be denied to any member of Parliament or State legislature cannot be denied to any person seeking RTI.
  4. It is the duty of PIO to suo motu (on its own) declare information such as mentioned in the exhaustive list of section 4 of RTI Act.

RTI Act was passed by Indian Parliament on 15th June 2005, which came into force fully on 12th October 2005, to allow common people to access their right of “Right to Information.” There had been too many controversies, there had been fights but, RTI Act has sorted our lives in a way nothing else could.

Did you access your right of “Right to Information”? Out of the 3, through which media you filed RTI? How was the experience?  Comment below. And yes, don’t forget to share the article.

 

Reference-

[1] Section 24 RTI Act, 2005 read along with Schedule II of RTI Act, 2005

 

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