India

RTI misuse: 'Act cannot be used for commercial gains'

31 Jul 2017 | By Gogona Saikia
Misuse of RTI Act: CIC steps up vigilance

In another case related to misuse of RTI Act, the Central Information Commission ruled that it cannot be used to build pressure for commercial gains.

The order came on a complaint filed by a magazine editor against the Dargah Khwaja Sahib Ajmer after it reportedly stopped giving them ads.

The editor then filed a complaint alleging they weren't providing information under the RTI Act.

In context: Misuse of RTI Act: CIC steps up vigilance

31 Jul 2017RTI misuse: 'Act cannot be used for commercial gains'

CaseWhat's the case about?

The appellant had accused the dargah of not providing information about complaints against its employees and status report of enquiry.

But the dargah's public information officer said the RTI applications were filed only after they stopped giving advertisements to the magazine in question.

The appellant had filed a complaint with the Press Council of India too; according to him, the ads were his "right".

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Authorities uphold Act but warn against using for personal gains

DecisionAuthorities uphold Act but warn against using for personal gains

Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said the RTI Act cannot be used "to build pressure" for personal gains.

He reminded the appellant of the Press Council of India Act, under which complaints can be filed against journalists for unethical conduct.

At the same time, Acharyulu ordered the dargah to furnish the information asked for.

MisuseCIC steps up against misuse of RTI Act

Last April, the CIC recommended action against an RTI applicant who had misused the law to harass his colleagues at Delhi's Bhai Parmanand Institute of Business Studies.

It has also ordered disciplinary action against public authorities who misuse the law.

However, according to former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, cases filed for personal gains make up less than 5% of the total applications.

On the other hand, the threats to RTI laws

The RTI Rules 2017 has recommended many changes in the current laws, many of which are being criticized for weakening it and endangering applicants. At least three activists have already been murdered this year. Such a powerful transparency law requires careful balance.