25 Dec, 2007, 1653 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Citizens cannot invoke their right to information in seeking opinions and advices from government over interpretation of a law, the country's apex RTI body has held.
This was said by the Central Information Commission (CIC) over a retired senior officer's plea seeking from the Centre an interpretation of an Income Tax Act provision over tax exemption limits on rent payable by an assessee.
In his RTI application filed before Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Jaipur-resident L K Verma also sought a review of proposal by the Finance Ministry to increase such exemption limits.
The matter was taken up with the Commission after CBDT said it was not obliged under the RTI law to provide an interpretation in respect to a provision of the I-T law.
Upholding CBDT's view on the matter, Information Commissioner A N Tiwari said, "To try to force the department to change its line of thinking and its interpretation of a given set of laws through ingenious use of RTI Act cannot be supported."
The Commission also rejected Verma's submission that the definition of "information," as entailed in section 2(f) of RTI Act, included the expression "opinions and advices."
"It is important to note that the expressions 'opinions' and 'advices' in the section refer to opinions, advices which form part of material such as advices and opinion present on files, documents, records and so on," Tiwari said.
"It would be wholly incorrect to read these expressions to mean that an information-seeker can demand from a public authority its opinion and seek advice in a matter of the petitioner's interest," the Commissioner added.