The Public Information Officer at the Prime Minister's Office has refused to provide information to an applicant saying he failed to show how it was "useful" to him "either personally, socially or nationally".
The reply from the Central Public Information Officer to activist Commodore (Retd) Lokesh Batra came even after clear directions of his superiors, the First Appellate Authority, to disclose the information sought by him.
Among other pieces of information, Batra had sought to know from the PMO the details of files and records which have been digitised and computerised by it as mandated in the Section 4(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act.
CPIO SE Rizvi has refused to disclose information saying the query would fall in the category of one "where the applicant has not specified how the information is useful to him either personally, socially or nationally."
Section 4(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act says "every public authority shall maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act.
Former Chief Information Commissioner AN Tiwari, while replying to a query on the issue, said the CPIO cannot ask how information was useful to RTI applicant and if the applicant approaches Central Information Commission, the Commission can initiate penalty proceedings against him.
After the first reply from Rizvi in which he refused to disclose information saying collation of information would "disproportionately divert" the resources of the office, Batra reached Director in PMO Krishan Kumar under first appeal.
After going through the contents of appeal and information sought by Batra, Kumar overruled the CPIO and directed him to ascertain the steps taken by PMO for the compliance of section 4(1)(a)-- related to computerisation and digitisation of records -- and apprise Batra within 15 days.
Even after clear directives for disclosure of information sought by Batra, Rizvi chose to deny the information again citing orders of the CIC which does not seem relevant.
"Prima facie this case seems to be of denial of information even after orders from the First Appellate Authority. In such cases if the applicant approaches Central Information Commission with a complaint under section 18 of the RTI, the Commission can initiate penalty proceedings against the CPIO," Tiwari said when contacted.