UP RTI activist told to give citizenship proof
The Lucknow University (LU) has asked a city-based RTI activist to submit proof of citizenship to get information under the Right to Information Act (RTI).
This when rule 6 (2) of the act clearly says that an applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.
To be sure, RTI is a right available to Indian citizens only. The preamble to the law says that it is for setting a “practical regime for citizens” to secure access to information under the control of public authorities. “
The Central Information Commission, while hearing a case when information was denied on the grounds of citizenship, said in its order in 2014 that the principal information officer or PIO will have to give reasons for doubting the applicant’s citizenship in case of denial of information.
In this case, RTI activist Alok Chantia sought information on financial irregularities, misuse of grants sanctioned to the Lucknow University by various agencies, and details of appointment of principals, especially in self-financed colleges, and appointment of teachers in the university in 2004, from the university’s RTI cell.
“Instead of responding to my queries, they (university’s RTI cell) sent a letter asking me to attach a document of my identity that establishes that I am an Indian citizen. This is bizarre and uncalled for. University cannot ask for any identity proof as there are provisions that clearly state that identity of the citizen need not to be revealed,” said Chantia, who has now written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath on the matter.
“The matter has been brought to our knowledge. University will respond to his RTI queries as per rules,” said university’s spokesperson, Durgesh Srivastava.
LU’s deputy registrar, VP Kaushal said, “The matter is being looked into.” Kaushal is also incharge of university’s RTI cell.
A former information commissioner, Arvind Singh Bisht said: “There’s no rule in RTI to demand for citizenship proof, but only Indian citizens can file RTI request application. And if someone has asked, one may submit his Aadhar card.”
RTI activist Nutan Thakur, who claims to have filed over a thousand RTI applications, said she has so far never been asked to prove citizenship.