Government officers hereafter should think twice before giving ‘file missing’ response to information sought under the Right to Information Act. For the Central Information Commission has recently held that the baseless claim of ‘file missing’ would lead to penalty under RTI.

Information Commissioner Madabhushi Sridhar, who heard the case ( File No.CIC/AD/A/2012/003063-SA) of a husband who was allegedly duped by his wife, who married three persons, found that the information sought by the appellant was essential to defend him against the criminal cases filed by his wife including under Section 498A.

The husband, Rahul Kumar Goyal, sought a copy of the affidavit filed by his wife at the time of registration of marriage, explaining her marital status. His suspicion was that she made a false affidavit. The appellant submitted that his wife was earlier married to another person and now was already married to a third person and furnished to the Commission a copy of the marriage certificate of his wife with another person. He claimed that her subsequent marriage was dissolved on the ground that she did not inform her previous marriages.

The appellant claimed that his marriage with his wife lasted only for seven days.

Mr. Sridhar, in an order issued on February 26, said that “ Claiming that a particular file is missing establishes the fact that the file was with them, till it was found missing or misplaced or deliberately removed….Thus it is the responsibility of the Public Authority to share that information.”