5(2) of the Central Act requires the appointment of Assistant
Public Information Officers (APIOs) "at each sub-divisional level
or other sub-district level" at the Centre and in all States.
APIOs are given the responsibility of receiving applications and
forwarding them on to the relevant Public
APIOs are not responsible under the law for actually processing
an application - although, of course, if they hold the information
and can easily supply it to the requester the should. Under the
Central Act though, they are simply required to act like mailboxes
- they receive applications and appeals and then distribute them
to the relevant PIO. This means that APIOs do not need to be senior
officers with authority to make decisions. They simply need to be
well organised and trustworthy, so that they can discharge their
duties under the Central Act in a timely, efficient manner.
there has been some confusion as to whether the Central Act requires
the appointment of APIOs by every public authority or if one APIO
can be appointed in each district who will be responsible for forwarding
application to any and all public authorities. Ideally, the nodal
agency responsible for implementation at the Centre and in the States
should issue guidelines clarifying what is required. If the nodal
agency has not issued guidelines you should consider contacting
them for guidance.
your organisation only has a small staff and is not represented
at the sub-divisional or sub-district level, you may also want to
consider negotiating with another body covered by the Central Act
to use their APIO to collect and forward applications and appeals
for your organisation. This will serve the additional purpose of
reducing bureaucratic red tape and training requirements for APIOs.