PMO’s advisory in context of filtering RTI applications
Annoyed with the non-stop flow of applications under the Right to Information Act (RTI), most of them disrespectful, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has recently put out a primer on what it is obliged to do and not to do under the law.
A recent ‘advisory’ made it explicit that the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the PMO is obliged under the RTI Act to provide only such information which is held by it or under its control and related to its function(s) as defined under the Business Rules, 1961.
Growing numbers of frivolous RTI’s
The current PMO receives on an average 1,500 RTI applications daily and since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in the last week of May 2014, the number of applications handled so far has already crossed 10 lakh.
Example of RTI Applications filed at PMO
A sample of questions directed at the PMO, available on its website, show that most of them are irreverent. The first on the list is not non-serious but actually triggered a controversy. It was about the percentage of marks PM obtained during his graduation in 1977.
But others are a category in themselves. For instance, spending on spices and vegetables used by the PM, what was the speed of the Internet at the PMO (which is 34 mpbs), which company manufactures the teleprompter that the PM uses and who pays for the expense, even questions like if the PM has read the Indian Constitution.
Rules pertaining to cater RTI applications
1. Making it clear that it is authorised to part with information which is in its possession or related to the functioning of the Prime Minister and his office, the advisory has said matters relating to Ministries/department of the Central government will be transferred to that other public authority.
In case of doubt in regard to allocation of work among the Ministries/departments of the Central government, the applicants may refer to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, which delineates the work allocation for each Ministry and department.
2. Applications for obtaining information which pertain to multiple public authorities (involving more than one Ministry/Department) shall not be transferred to such other public authorities and the request of the RTI applicants in such cases, is liable to be rejected.
3. Likewise, on matters relating to State and Union Territory governments, the applicants have been asked to address their applications to the public authority concerned in the respective jurisdictions.
4. The advisory said the CPIO is also not required to furnish information which requires drawing of inference; obtaining information held by other public authority; or furnish replies to hypothetical questions.