The information panel also rejected DoPT's contention that they could not provide the information since the files concerned were under submission to higher authorities. The commission held the public information officer had to make an assessment if the file would come back within the 30-day period.
If this did not look likely, the officer should inform the “higher authorities” about the RTI request, and let them take a call if they will provide the information directly or send the file back to enable the information to be provided.
The information panel directive with a 30-day deadline came after DoPT’s public information officer sought a waiver of the penalty for delayed information on grounds that he did not have the required infrastructure to deal with information requests.
CIC Satyananda Mishra accepted the plea but urged the department to provide the necessary infrastructure facilities.
Simultaneously, Mishra also asked the department to take a decision on putting out complete files on topics on which RTI applications were received frequently as part of proactive disclosures.
The department had taken more than eight months to provide access to files relating to amendments to the RTI Act and RTI Rules on an RTI request filed on behalf of HT.
“For example, the files relating to the appointment of the CIC/ Information Commissioners, amendment to the RTI Act and Rules, staff strength and infrastructure facilities for the CIC are most often demanded by the citizens,” Mishra said in his decision.
Mishra — who retired as the DoPT secretary — said there could be very little in these files which would come under any of the exemption provisions.