State Information Commission
|STATE INFORMATION COMMISSION, KERALA
||T.C. 26/298, Punnen Road
Kerala - 695001
Phone:- 0471 - 2335199, 2320920
Fax :- 0471- 2330920
|Chief Information Commissioner
||Dr. Siby Mathews
Phone:- 0471 - 2332533
|State Information Commissioner||Sri. M. N. Gunavardhanan
Phone:- 0471 - 2332577
|State Information Commissioner||Sri. Soni Thengamom
Phone:- 0471 - 2332599
|State Information Commissioner||Sri. C. S. Sasikumar
Phone:- 0471 - 2332588
|State Information Commissioner||Dr. Kuriakose Kumbalangi
Phone:- 0471 - 2330470
Kerala State Information Commission was constituted under section 15(1) of the Right to Information Act 2005, through gazette notification No.80649/Cdn.5/05/GAD dated 19th December 2005 (Gazette No.Vol.L/2731 dated 19-12-2005. The Commission consists of the State Chief Information Commissioner and four State Information Commissioners.
To provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
With the enactment of the Right to Information Act, 2005, the fact that the right to information is a fundamental right flowing from Articles 19(i)(a) and 21 of the Constitution of India has now been well settled. The ultimate aim of the Right to Information Act is to have a well informed citizenry, which is aware of its rights, and well trained officers of public authorities who are aware of their duties and functions under the Act. A Government committed to effective implementation of the Act together with active participation of non-governmental organizations and other activists and with an active Information Commission would be able to achieve the desired results. The State Information Commission, Kerala, which came into being on 21-12-2005 is on the forefront to achieve the goals enshrined in the Right to Information Act, 2005 to mould an informed citizenry, to promote transparency of information held by or under the control of the public authorities, contain corruption, and to hold governments and its instrumentalities accountable to the governed.
Overriding effect of the Act The provisions of the RTI Act shall have effect not withstanding any thing inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force or any instrument by virtue of any law other than this act. An application for information received under the RTI Act can be rejected only for any of the reasons u/s 8 or 9 of the Act. The application can not be rejected under the Provisions of any other law.
Bar of Jurisdiction of Courts
No court shall entertain any suit, application or other proceedings in respect of any order made under this act and no such order shall be called in question otherwise than by way of an appeal under the RTI Act. The decision of the State Public Information Officer shall be called in question only by an appeal before the Appellate Authority u/s 19(1) of the Act and the decision of the Appellate Authority shall be called in question only by way of an appeal before the State Information Commission u/s 19(3) of the Act.
By virtue of the powers vested under section 24 of RTI Act, Government of Kerala, have exempted the following organizations from the purview of the Act.
1. Special Branch CID
2. Crime Branch CID
3 District Special Branches of all Districts/Cities
4. District and Crime Record Bureau
5. Police Telecommunication Unit
6. Confidential Branch in the Police Headquarters, Kerala and Confidential sections in all Police Offices in Kerala
7. State and Regional Forensic Science Laboratories
8 State and District Finger Print Bureau However, the information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations are not exempted from disclosure in the case of these exempted organisations. In the case of allegations of violation of human rights, the information shall be provided only after the approval of the State Information Commission and the information shall be provided within 45 days from the receipt of request.
How to make a request for information under the RTI Act
1. The request shall be in writing or through electronic means in English or Malayalam or in the official language of the area in which the application is made.
2.The full name, address, particulars of information required and other relevant reference, if any, are to be clearly specified in the application.
3.The application shall be accompanied by the prescribed fee.
Govt. of Kerala have prescribed the Kerala Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and cost) Rules, 2006. The application fee is Rs.10/- The application fee shall be paid in any of the following manners.
a.by affixing court fee stamp; or
b.by remitting the amount in the Government Treasury, under the head of account " 0070 other administrative services - 60 other services - 800 other receipts - 42 other items" ; or 36 - Receipts under RTI Act, 2005.
c.by cash remittance against proper receipt in the office of the State Public Information Officer/ State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be; or
d.by demand draft/bankers' cheque /pay order payable to the State Public Information Officer/State Assistant Public Information Officer;
Provided that in the case of public authorities other than the Government Departments, the fee shall be remitted to the account of such public authority as provided in (c) & (d) above.
4. The application shall be made to the State Public Information Officer of the concerned Public Authority or the State Asstt. Public Information Officer as the case may be, specifying the particulars of information sought for by him.
5. Where the applicant cannot make the request in writing, the State Public Information Officer shall render all reasonable assistance to the person making the request to reduce the oral request into a written request.
6. Person's below poverty line are not required to remit the application fee. However, they are required to produce BPL certificate from the Block Development Officer for those persons residing in rural areas and, from the Secretary of the Corporation/Municipality for those residing in Corporation/Municipal area, respectively.
6. An applicant is not required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.
Disposal of the Request
- On receipt of a request for information, the State Public Information Officer shall either give the information on payment of the prescribed fee or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request.
- Where the information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person , the same shall be given within 48 hours of the receipt of the request.
- If the decision on the request for information is not given within the prescribed time limit, the request shall be deemed to have been refused.
- Where a decision is taken to provide the information on payment of the cost of providing the information, the Public Information Officer shall send an intimation to the person making the request giving details of the fee representing the cost of providing the information and the calculation made to arrive at the amount, requesting him to deposit the fees. The period intervening between the despatch of the above intimation and payment of fees shall be excluded for the purpose of maximum period in determining the time limit for providing the information.
Fee for providing information
For providing information, the public authority shall charge the fee at the following rates, in case no separate fee is prescribed:
a) rupees two for each page in A4 size paper.
b) actual charge or cost price of the copy in larger size paper.
c) actual cost or price for samples or models, maps, plans etc.
d) for inspection of records, no fee for the first hour; and a fee of rupees ten for every subsequent thirty minutes or fraction thereof. Provided that in the case of public authorities other than the Government Departments, the fee shall be remitted to the account of such public authority as provided in clause (c) and (d) of rule 3 of the Kerala Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost Rules), 2006.
No fees shall be charged from person Below Poverty Line
Persons below poverty line are exempted from payment of application fee and also the fee for providing the information. The Government of Kerala have authorized the Block Development Officers as the competent authority to issue eligibility certificate to those below poverty line in rural areas and, the Secretary of the Corporation/Municipality for those below poverty line in Corporation/Municipal area.
Information is free if the time limit is exceeded
The information shall be provided free of cost where a Public Authority fails to comply with the prescribed time limit.
Rejection of a request
Where a request is rejected, the State Public Information Officer shall inform the person making the request -
a. the reason for such rejection
b. period within which the appeal may be preferred; and
c. the particulars of Appellate Authority.
Powers and Functions of SIC
The Powers and Functions of the Information Commission are enumerated under chapter 5 of the RTI Act .
1. Enquiry into Complaints
It shall be the duty of the Commission to receive and inquire into complaints from persons aggrieved by any of the reasons given under section 18 (1) of the Act. Where the Commission is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to inquire into the matter, it may initiate an inquiry thereof. While conducting an inquiry into a complaint, the Commission shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in respect of the matters given under section 18 (3) of the Act. During an inquiry into a complaint under this Act, the Commission can examine any record to which the RTI Act applies which is under the control of the Public Authority.
2. Deciding 2nd Appeals
Section 19(3) of the RTI Act provides for 2nd appeal before the Central/State Information Commission. The 2nd appeal shall lie within 90 days from the date on which the decision should have been made by or was actually received from the first appellate authority. The Information Commission may admit the 2nd appeal after the expiry of the period of 90 days, if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time. While making a decision, the State Information Commission has the power to require the Public Authority to comply with the Provisions of the RTI Act -
- by providing access to information
- by appointing the State Public Information Officer
- by publishing certain information or categories of information
- by making necessary changes to its practices in relation to the maintenance, management and destruction of records
- by enhancing the provision of training on the right to information for its officials
- by providing with an annual report in compliance with clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 4 of the Act.
The second appeals filed before the State Information Commission are decided in accordance with the Kerala State Information Commission (Procedure for appeal) Rules, 2006, notified by the Government of Kerala as No.27774/Cdn.5/2006/GAD dated 31.5.06 .
In an appeal proceedings, the onus to prove that the denial of request was justified shall be on the Public Information Officer who denied the request . If the appeal relates to information of a 3rd party, the 3rd party shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before a decision is made by the Information Commission.
The RTI Act empowers the Information Commission to require the Public Authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered.
The State Information Commission has the power to impose penalty on the State Public Information Officer for the following defaults:
Where the State Public Information Officer has -
- without reasonable cause refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the specified time limit or
- malafidely denied the request for information or
- knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or
- destroyed information which was the subject of the request or
- obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information.
The Penalty provided under section 20(1) of the RTI Act is Rs.250/- each day till the application is received or information is furnished. The total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty five thousand rupees.
Before imposing any penalty, the Commission shall give the State Information Officer a reasonable opportunity of being heard. The burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the State Public Information Officer.
Recommending for disciplinary Action
Where the State Information Commission, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the State Public Information Officer has, without any reasonable cause and persistently, failed to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, the Commission can recommend for disciplinary action against the State Public Information Officer, under the service rules applicable to him under section 20(2) of the Act.