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The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) denied sharing information to a researcher under the Right to Information Act, citing the submission of citizenship proof.

An RTI petition prompting for a mandatory pollution disclosure of industry was filed by a Chennai based researcher of Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG). Following this, the Board’s public officer said that any citizen of India has the right to seek such information from an Indian government organization by enclosing a copy of identity proof such as a copy of Aadhaar, Voter ID, or Ration Card along with the respective application.

As per the provisions of the RTI Act, all the citizens of India are open to gather information and nowhere, the Act mentions that petitioners should furnish proof of citizenship or identity while seeking information from the respected Public Information Officer.

However, a senior official of the Tamil Nadu Information Commission stated that “Rejecting information for want of citizenship documents was very unusual and there is no question of providing citizenship proof while requesting information under the RTI act.”

While interaction with a senior researcher at CAG, Sharadha Narayanan stated that “As an organization, we file hundreds of RTI applications to receive information that supports our research and outreach activities. We have not received such a response asking for proof of citizenship.”

“The information requested was a part of the annual disclosures required to be made by the industries. We have obtained similar information through RTI applications several times in the past, with no such requirement of citizenship proof. We will be filing an appeal against the response received,” she added.

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