Prime Minister Officials (PMO) have refused to publically reveal the details related to PM Cares fund.
Moreover, talks on the extension of lockdown, and files regarding COVID-19, all have been denied to be made public by PMO.
Vikrant Togad, a resident of Greater Noida and environmental activist, had applied to the Right to Information (RTI) Act on April 21, 2020, seeking information on 12 points from the PMO.
However, PMO denied revealing the information saying that 12 points include multiple requests from varied topics. It further wrote that these requests could not be treated as one, and each request has to be treated independently and paid for accordingly.
The PMO’s response does not seem to comply either with the law or decisions of the Central Information Commission (CIC).
In 2007, Rajendra Singh, a resident of Delhi, had filed an RTI at the CBI headquarters seeking information on a total of 69 points. The CPIO of the CBI had sent these questions to their respective departments, upon which one department said that these questions cannot be treated as one request, so to get information the seeker has to pay an additional 10 Rs. for every request.
Singh did not pay the additional fee and the case was moved further to the Commission. The commission said that out of all the questions asked by Rajendra Singh, only one question was differently subjected. It further asked the appellant to pay 10 Rupees additionally for the question of a different subject after which the CPIO will provide the information.
The commission did not refuse to provide an answer but rather asked for an additional fee for questions with a different subject which was contrary to what PMO said for not revealing the information.
In 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the chief information commissional found that nowhere legally it has been written that under RTI multiple requests are not allowed or charging additionally for questions of a different subject.
Overturning earlier rulings, Gandhi stated that ‘a ‘single subject matter’ has neither been defined in the RTI Act, nor the rules and regulations framed thereunder. Therefore, the fundamental right to information of citizens cannot be curtailed nor unnecessary money is sought from them.
In the second argument, the PMO wrote in its response that the nation does not want a scenario where 75 % of the staff of public authorities spends 75 % of their time in collection and furnishing of information to applicants when regular duties could be done with those staff and with that time.
Gandhi says that this statement of the Supreme Court harms the RTI Act. He further said that the response by the apex court had no legal basis and the Supreme court should not make such statements regarding the fundamental rights of citizens.
Further analysis of this statement concluded that only 3.2 per-cent of the staff need to work for 3.2 per-cent while responding to RTI applications.