The Delhi High Court clarified that under the Right to Information Act (“Act”) neither can information already made available by the public authority on its own in discharge of obligations be requested under the Act nor is the public authority required to reject the said request giving the reason of the information having already been made available by it on the internet.
The Court Said, “The scheme of the RTI Act, in placement of various Sections thereof, clearly is to in the first instance require the public authorities to suo motu make available / accessible to the public as much information (in their possession and control) as possible by placing the same in public domain including on the internet and to thereafter devise a process to enable the public to request for / seek such information from the public authorities which the public authorities have not suo motu made available.”
“The unequivocal meaning flowing therefrom is that resort to the RTI Act to obtain information i.e. by requiring the public authorities under Section 5 to appoint CPIOs to deal with requests for information to be made under Section 6 is only qua the information which has suo motu not been so made available to the public by the public authority”, the Court added.
The Court observed that if the public authority has to provide the same information through requests, even though the same has been provided suo motu, it would amount to a huge waste of resources of the public authorities.
It belies logic as to why the provisions of the Act should be interpreted as conferring a right to seek information, subject to payment of cost, that information which is already available for free. This will also lead to undue enrichment to the public authority, the Court added.