‘Frivolous RTI pleas’ is frivolous argument

PMO has not received any frivolous RTI application in last five years

danish

Danish Raza | May 4, 2011



Nailing the government's lie that it wants to amend the RTI act to discourage vexatious and frivolous applications, five public authorities including the PMO have said that they have not received even a single frivolous application in the last five years.

Other public authorities include the supreme court, ministry of external affairs (MEA), department of personal and training (DoPT)- the nodal department for the implementation of the transparency act and the Indian embassy in Washington DC.

The information has been obtained by Noida based RTI activist Commodore (rtd) Lokesh K Batra and Los Angeles resident Vishal Kudchadakar.

To the query asking the total number of RTI applications which were considered as frivolous queries, the PMO said, “No categorization is being made as frivolous applications.”

While the DoPT said that it did not have any information on frivolous applications, Indian Embassy in Washington DC was silent on the query. MEA said that details of such applications were not readily available with it and needed to be compiled. 

The five public authorities were randomly selected by the RTI applicants to find out if frivolous applications were actually increasing the work load of public authorities.

“The toughest task was to get data from DoPT which has 47 central public information officers. After getting over 50 interim responses the final data was received on 18 April 2011,” said Batra.

The issue of frivolous applications has been a matter of debate since the introduction of the transparency act in October 2005.

The civil society is of the view that it is not possible to define ‘vexatious' and ‘frivolous' in terms of RTI applications and the provision will be misused by the public authorities to withhold information.

The government and some information commissions believe that such applications are increasing the work load of the government the objective of the applicant should be considered while treating the application.

The RTI act is silent on the matter.

In December 2007, a central information commission bench headed by then information commissioner O P Kejriwal had come down heavily on an RTI applicant ruling that the application was ‘frivolous and even bordering on the absurd’.

According to a survey by Parivartan NGO released In September 2007, only 11 percent information commissioners were of the opinion that frivolous applications did exist.

Information commissioner M M Ansari has advocated penalty on applicants filing frivolous applications.

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