Monday, December 21, 2009

Re: [rti_india] Re: Video recording


Dear Sarbajit,

Further to our discussions on the above subject.

I would like to share my point of view on the same.

The definition of a particular section of the Act may be mathematical and hence the interpretation also static and mathematical
on receipt of a request undersection 6 shall, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request,

But most of the provisions of the Act just defines the intent and hence are subject to dynamic interpretation i.e. that changes with time.

No explicit right is given in the clause to video graph non-electronic information

If a parallel analogy is drawn, than nowhere in the entire clause there is an explicit right to use photocopiers for making copies of the information, sec. 2(j)(ii) explicitly states only the words "certified copies". The Act is silent on what medium shall be used to make copies.

Similarly for example sec.6(3) states that if the RTI application pertains to another PA then the PIO shall transfer the application within 5 days, now the PIO may either personally travel and transfer it to another PIO, or through an Indian Postal service, or Private Courier service etc.But the Act is silent on the medium to be employed for effecting the transfer of an application.

And similarly sec.2(j)(i) just defines the intent "Inspection to Work". But the Act is silent on what comprises a method to inspect to work.

Hence in such provisions the Act basically just defines the intent, the actual interpretation and thereafter implementation of the intent of the Act falls under the collective domain of Judiciary, Information Commission, Rules and Regulations by a Competent Authority, Memorandums and Resolutions of the Administrative department of the Government, etc especially majority of the interpretation / implementation happens through established norms / standard practices followed.

And so in the absence of any non standard interpretation of the provisions of an Act an established norm  may be followed e.g. copying a document by a photocopier.

But that does not preclude the possibility of interpreting  a provision of an Act differently from the established norm.

Therefore, because the Act just defines the intent, the interpretation of various provisions of the Act remains dynamic.

To check a presently valid interpretation of a provision of the Act, one may need to find out the most recent interpretation by the senior most authority in the hierarchy implementing the Act.

The interpretation may be correct or incorrect and may be debated and upturned by a senior authority, but it is within the ambit of an IC to interpret the law and pass a decision in that regard.

That a new information is generated by virtue of video graphy is purely consequential.

I am debating this from the academic point of view and not whether the interpretation is correct or not, and whether it is beneficial or otherwise.

Warm Regards,


On Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 2:23 PM, sarbajitr <> wrote:

Dear Sunil,

Lets set out the entire clause

2(j) "right to information" means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to—
(i) inspection of work, documents, records;
(ii) taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records;
(iii) taking certified samples of material;
(iv) obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device;""

Firstly, the information is limited only to that information (2f) which is held by or under the control of a public authority.

Secondly, "inspection " simply means a right to "formally observe in a non-destructive manner". (The issue of whether applicant can "test" / "measure" the information is clarified by other clauses)

Thirdly, the right to take extracts or certified copies is strictly limited to documents and records. This sub-clause does not enable you to "extract" a sample from a road. The true intent is to allow an applicant to get copies of part(s) of the record rather than pay for copying the whole.

Fourthly, applicant is entitled to TAKE certified sample(s) of MATERIAL. This is the clause which allows citizens to take samples of public works and get it certified as a RTI sample by the DESIGNATED COMPETENT PERSON - not neceesarily the PIO (under the P/A's own laws / rules) of the public authority.(NB: This is very important: In both this sub-clause and the preceding one, the "certification" is limited to a mere certification that the information copy / extract is being provided under RTI Act. This certification is not a certification as to the accuracy of the information - and it has no validity in a court of law) <--- If any RTI ACTIVIST(S) want to dispute this they must be very well prepared.

Fifthly, for information stored in the electronic form the RTI Act provided that copies can be "obtained" in a suitable FORM - including a physical printout if possible.

Nowhere is there an explicit right to videograph, photograph, or audiograph non-electronic information. For example cannot demand that a digital version in say MP3 format be CREATED of an analogue audiotape in Doordarshan archives.

Lastly, we have Sidharth's reference to that old order of Mr Habibullah saying there is nothing to preclude it. Use this decision at your own risk, as it wont stand up in a court of law in the face of section 3 of the Official Secrets Act which is the bar. RTI Act is only an enabling legislation to access/ copy information in restricted ways allowed by the RTI Act - see section 3 "Subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information."


--- In, Sunil Ahya <sunilahya@...> wrote:
> Dear All,
> I think we are discussing sec. 2 (j) - (i), (ii) & (iv).
> Sec. 2 (j) Right to Information means............
> (i) inspection of work, .........
> (ii) ...........taking certified copies.........
> (iv)obtaining cassettes..........where such
> information is stored in a computer or in any other device.
> *(ii)* taking certified copies I suppose would implicitly mean taking
> photocopies of documents, records etc. Photocopy means taking the a photo of
> the document. Photo may be taken by a dedicated photocopy machine (like the
> most popular company named Xerox (Modi-Xerox in India) which makes dedicated
> photocopying machines) OR take a photocopy through a scanner attached to a
> computer OR take a photocopy through a digital camera / video camera etc.
> i.e take a photocopy through an electronic means that is most suitable.
> *(iv)* obtaining cassettes......where such
> information is stored in computer etc would mean that a video recording that
> has already been taken in the past and is being held by a PA, one may
> request the PA to provide oneself with a copy of the same.
> *(i) inspection of work*............. now how does one define that? what is
> the correct method to inspect work? Can one inspect the work through one's
> eyes (human cameras) and record it in the hard disk of one's human brain OR
> can one record it through the eyes of a video camera and record it on an
> electronic memory card??
> Warm Regards,
> Sunil.
> On Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 11:41 AM, C K Jam <rtiwanted@...> wrote:
> >
> >
> > If the Video signal is being continuously transmitted to NIC Bhawan, then
> > there is a need for the CIC to review its following position:
> >
> >
> >
> > Supplementary Item:
> > 4. Commission examined a request that the Commission to provide
> > a copy of the recording of a complainant's hearing, which was conducted
> > by Videoconference. While no decision on policy was taken on the issue,
> > the Commission observed that such recording will entail arrangements
> > for which we are not ready, and higher costs.
> >
> > RTIwanted
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------
> > *From:* sarbajitr <sroy1947@...>**

> >
> >
> > 6) IC(MLS) may not be aware of the concerned Rule which prohibits
> > audio/video recording of CIC hearings. Recently our friend Karira (CK Jam)
> > had posted a query on his forum wanting to know how my DDA hearing had been
> > photographed. Upon enquiry I learnt that all the senior ICs now have NIC
> > videoconferencing systems installed in their office which are "always On"
> > and transmitting continuously back to NIC Bhawan for security reasons. In
> > other words the chambers of the senior ICs are always bugged. Our old
> > friends the "Chinese Hackers" know exactly what is going on even before
> > parties do. It seems they have some very graphic videos (with Dolby Audio)
> > of romps in a particular
> > office :-)
> >
> > Sarbajit
> >
> >
> >
> --
> It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen -
> Aristotle

It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen - Aristotle



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