Nodal officer for compilation of information
The Appellant sought attested copies of certain Office Memorandum through separate RTI applications. The PIO, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Health and Family Welfare, denied the disclosure of information on the ground that the information sought are not readily available in the Office of the PIO and that the OMs were incorporated in the Swamy’s Compilation on Medical Attendance Rules, which could be used as a reference book. During the hearing before the CIC, it was reiterated that in his RTI applications, the Appellant himself had made reference to the Swamy’s Compilation on Medical Attendance wherein all the notifications of the Office Memorandums were already mentioned and that they used the aforementioned compilation for their internal purposes as well. On being queried by the CIC regarding the process for record keeping / compilation of the documents sought in the RTI application at the Ministerial level through a Nodal Officer and its periodic updation with clarifications, no satisfactory response was offered by the Respondents who submitted that being very old records several OMs/ Notifications were not available at this distant date. The CIC felt that there was an urgent need to develop a robust system of record keeping in the Respondent Public Authority and to review its efficaciousness periodically. The CIC further noted that the position of Nodal Officer in a Public Authority is created in order to ensure timely and precise response on the RTI applications where information is scattered and multiple Divisions / Departments are involved. It was felt that there was lack of coordination between Public Authority Officials present during the hearing on the issue of custodian of information which ultimately impedes the implementation of the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. The CIC also referred to the OM No. 1/32/2007-IR dated 14.11.2007 wherein while prescribing for creation of a nodal authority for dealing with RTI applications. In the larger public interest, the CIC advised the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to appoint a Nodal Officer for the compilation and collation of all available OMs / Notifications issued in the form of a compendium for ready reference of all concerned and to facilitate expeditious reply to the RTI application.
OM No. 1/32/2007-IR dated 14.11.2007 calls upon all the public authorities with more than one PIO to create a central point within the organisation where all the RTI applications and the appeals addressed to the First Appellate Authorities may be received. It would aid in quick disposal of the RTI applications.
Citation: Mr. Pradeep Kumar v. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in Second Appeal No.(s):- CIC/MOHFW/A/2018/623283-BJ+ CIC/MOHFW/A/2018/623300-BJ+ CIC/MOHFW/A/2018/623306-BJ+ CIC/MOHFW/A/2018/623311-BJ+ CIC/MOHFW/A/2018/623315-BJ+ CIC/MOHFW/A/2018/624303-BJ, Date of Decision : 05.07.2019
Dr. Anuradha Verma (dranuradhaverma@yahoo.co.in) is an expert on RTI matters and has co-authored the books RIGHT TO INFORMATION - LAW AND PRACTICE and PIO’s guide to RTI. Her other articles can be read at the website of RTI Foundation of India at the link: http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/

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