Indian Institute of Technology, Madras has taken a position different from the other IITs in a case under the Right to Information Act. IIT, Madras has imposed a blanket ban on providing information under RTI to the media.
In a reply to similar RTI applications filed in all seven IITs, IIT-M said the information sought could not be provided because a journalist represents a media organisation and the RTI doesn’t allow providing information to a company.
Quoting section 3 of the RTI Act, the Public Information Officer and Registrar of IIT-M, said, “since you’re representing the press, the information asked for can’t be furnished to you”.
To buttress its case, IIT-M also provided a copy of a Central Information Commission order stating that a company cannot seek information under the RTI Act under its name. This has not been clearly stated in the law but the CIC said since the law provides the right only to citizens, companies could not seek the information directly.
What IIT-M overlooked was that several CIC orders had said a citizen working in a company has a right to seek information. These observations were made by CIC in appeals where the PIOs rejected RTI applications on similar grounds.