E-access to public information, case I OSK 730/12

July 16th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

Błażej P. who is serving a sentence of imprisonment, requested the Minister of Justice to disclose paper copy of public information from the online Public Information Bulletin (PIB) that concerned the Ministry of Justice. The Minister answered that it can only disclose information, which was not made available in the Public Information Bulletin. Błażej P. filed a complaint against such decision. He noted that he is serving a prison sentence and thus he does not have access to the PIB. Therefore, the decision of the Minister violates the constitutional right of access to public information. The Voivodeship Administrative Court dismissed the case, and Błażej P. filed a cassation complaint together with the request the Constitutional Tribunal to decide on the constitutionality of the provisions of Article 10 of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments.

Article 10. 1. Public information, which was not made available in the Public Information Bulletin, is made available on the petition.
2. Public information, which can be immediately made available, is made available in the oral or written form without a written petition.

Błażej P. argued that the fact that the convicted person has to request the prison director on Internet access in order to access public information that is available at the PIB, makes the access dependent on the will of the director, and the provisions of the Punishment Execution Code do not provide for use of the Internet.

The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 June 2012 case file I OSK 730/12 dismissed it. However, the Court said that serving a prison sentence does not exclude inmates from access to the Internet or mobile phones, but it also does not mean that it may be unlimited access and to any information. Inamtes may use it, but on the rules established in the prison. They can also obtain public information in a form other than online, as determined by the provisions of the Punishment Execution Code.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.