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RTI >> Judgments >> CIC >> Disposal of Request
Supreme Court(Disposal of Request)/ High Courts(Disposal of Request)
S.No. CIC CASE DATE OF JUDGMENT JUDGMENT
1 CIC/DOURD/A/2017/171233/MOHUA/00972
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02 Jul, 2019 Prashant Kumar Vs. CPIO, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi-110 011

Information Sought
The appellant has sought the following Information in regard to his complaint forwarded by Vice-President's Secretariat vide its letter No. VPS 23/02/2017 (P) dated 23/02/2017 to the Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, New Delhi:
1. Date wise details of action taken in respect of the said letter.
2. Certified copies of all file notings related to the said file, issued orders, incoming letters and updated status of compliance with orders.
3. Certified copy of representation and action taken thereon.
4. Name, Designation & Address of the dealing officer.

Decision
Based on a perusal of the record, the Commission in the absence of the requisite despatch details, is constrained to consider the reply as no reply. The claim of photocopying charges at this juncture is not admissible as per rule.

In view of the above, the CPIO is directed to provide the relevant documents consisting of 14 pages free of cost to the appellant within 7 days from the date of receipt of the order. As discussed during the hearing, this is to be also sent by email immediately.

2 CIC/SBIND/A/2017/175368
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02 Jul, 2019 Anil Prasad Vs. CPIO: State Bank of India, Regional Business Office, Purnea, Bihar.

Information Sought
The issues under consideration arising out of the second appeal dated 26.10.2017 include non-receipt of the following information raised by the appellant through his RTI application dated 20.06.2017 and first appeal dated 24.07.2017.

Decision
The appellant submitted that he sought information regarding the appointment of his father but has not received any information so far.

The respondent submitted that they could not ascertain the relationship of the appellant with Mr. Rajendra Prasad, hence, the information could not be furnished to him. The respondent further submitted that as per the revelation made during the hearing the relationship had been ascertained and they would provide the information to the appellant promptly.


3 CIC/DOREV/C/2018/104481-BJ
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10 Jun, 2019 Ms. Manisha Muley Vs. CPIO, Department of Revenue, New Delhi – 110001

Information Sought
The Complainant vide her RTI application sought information on 05 points in respect of Writ Petition No. 18501 of 2004 filed by the Board before Hon’ble A.P. High Court and affidavit filed by the CCE, Mumbai before Hon’ble CAT, Mumbai in OA No. 454/2006, whether the information mentioned at Serial No. 01 (as mentioned in the RTI application) for filing of Writ Petition No. 18501 of 2004 by the Board before Hon’ble A.P. High Court was correct or not, etc.

Decision
The Commission felt that correct and timely response is the essence of the RTI mechanism enacted to ensure transparency and accountability in the working of Public Authorities. In this context, the Commission referred to the decision of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Mujibur Rehman vs Central Information Commission (W.P. (C) 3845/2007) (Dated 28 April, 2009) wherein it had been held as under:

“14.......The court cannot be unmindful of the circumstances under which the Act was framed, and brought into force. It seeks to foster an "openness culture" among state agencies, and a wider section of "public authorities" whose actions have a significant or lasting impact on the people and their lives. Information seekers are to be furnished what they ask for, unless the Act prohibits disclosure; they are not to be driven away through sheer inaction or filibustering tactics of the public authorities or their officers. It is to ensure these ends that time limits have been prescribed, in absolute terms, as well as penalty provisions. These are meant to ensure a culture of information disclosure so necessary for a robust and functioning democracy.”

Furthermore, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court decision in J P Aggarwal v. Union of India (WP (C) no. 7232/2009 it has held that:

“The PIO is expected to apply his / her mind, duly analyse the material before him / her and then either disclose the information sought or give grounds for non-disclosure.”

A reference was drawn to the decision of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the case of J.P Agrawal v. Union of India-2013(287) ELT25(Del.) wherein it was held as under:

7.“it is the PIO to whom the application is submitted and it is who is responsible for ensuring that the information as sought is provided to the applicant within the statutory requirements of the Act. Section 5(4) is simply to strengthen the authority of the PIO within the department; if the PIO finds a default by those from whom he has sought information. The PIO is expected to recommend a remedial action to be taken”. The RTI Act makes the PIO the pivot for enforcing the implementation of the Act.”

Furthermore, in OM No. 20/10/23/2007-IR dated 09.07.2009, while elaborating on the duties and responsibilities of the FAA, it was stated that:

“3. Deciding appeals under the RTI Act is a quasi-judicial function. It is, therefore, necessary that the appellate authority should see that the justice is not only done but it should also appear to have been done. In order to do so, the order passed by the appellate authority should be a speaking order giving justification for the decision arrived at.

Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of R.K. Jain vs Union of India, LPA No. 369/2018, dated 29.08.2018, held as under:

“9………………………….. That apart, the CPIO being custodian of the information or the documents sought for, is primarily responsible under the scheme of the RTI Act to supply the information and in case of default or dereliction on his part, the penal action is to be invoked against him only.

The Commission observed that there is complete negligence and laxity in the public authority in dealing with the RTI applications. It is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored and set aside without application of mind which reflects disrespect towards the RTI Act, 2005 itself. The Commission expressed its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the Respondent in responding to the RTI application. It was felt that the conduct of respondent was against the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 which was enacted to ensure greater transparency and effective access to the information.

The Complainant / Appellant was not present to contest the submissions of the Respondent or to substantiate her claims further.

Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by the Respondent, it is evident that cogent and precise reply had not been furnished to the Complainant / Appellant explaining the factual position. The Commission therefore directs Member (Admn.), CBIC to depute a responsible and senior official of appropriate seniority to examine the RTI application and furnish a consolidated response reflecting the correct and factual status to the Complainant / Appellant within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of this order.

The Commission also instructs the Respondent Public Authority to convene periodic conferences/seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

The Complaint / Appeal stands disposed with the above direction.

4 CIC/MOCIT/A/2018/102787/00802
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04 Jun, 2019 Gaya Prasad Kushwaha Vs. CPIO, National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology, New Delhi

Information Sought
The appellant has sought information in connection with obtaining of certificate of Saroj Kumari D/o Jageshawar Prasad Kushwaha, who qualified CCC examination in January 2015 from NIELIT Centre, Madan Mohan Malviya Engg. College Campus, Gorakhpur.

Decision
The appellant’s representative was present during the hearing and submitted that he is the father of Saroj Kumari and is representing the appellant. He further submitted that till date his daughter has not received the requisite certificate from the respondent. He also submitted that there was no appropriate reply provided to his RTI application.

The CPIO submitted that the letter dated 13.07.2017 is not a RTI application but first appeal. On a query by the Commission, as to why the IPO of Rs 10 bearing no. 36AF802739 dated 11.07.2017 was accepted alongwith the impugned RTI application dated 13.07.2017, the CPIO could not provide any justification. However, it is also pertinent to mention here that the letter dated 13.07.2017 was addressed to Shri B.N Choudhry, First Appellate Authority therefore it appears to be a first appeal. Moreover, the contents of the application also is in reference to the reply dated 21.06.2017 of the CPIO.

Based on a perusal of the record, it was noted that the present case is a RTI application as per his first appeal dated 29.08.2017. However, it is important to state here that due to repeated RTI applications, and due to the fact that the letter dated 13.07.2017 was addressed to FAA, it was not treated as a RTI application by the CPIO.

The Commission observes that an appropriate reply guiding the appellant on the process to opt for guardian’s name in lieu of mother’s name and father’s name in order to obtain the certificate from NIELIT would be proper. The CPIO is accordingly directed to provide a revised reply to the appellant, within 3 days from the date of receipt of the order.

5 CIC/IITPT/A/2017/608260/00667
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16 May, 2019 Pranab Kumar Sarkar Vs. CPIO, IIT, Patna

Information Sought
1. Details of academic qualifications administrative experience of the candidate called for interview to the post of registrar against advertisement no. IITP/RECT/001/2017 dated 12/08/2017.
2. Length of service and name of the post held by the candidates called for interview to the post of registrar along with the scale of pay against the aforesaid advertisement.
3. List of candidates not called for interview and the reasons thereof.

Decision
From a perusal of the relevant case records, it is noted that the reply of the CPIO on point no 1 of the RTI application is proper. However, on points no 2 & 3, an improper reply has been provided. On point no 2 of the RTI application, the appellant has sought the details of length of service, name of the post held and scale of pay drawn by the candidates who were called for interview for the post of registrar against the aforesaid advertisement and this information cannot be construed as personal information as the appellant has neither sought the name of the shortlisted candidates not other personal details of any other candidate. Whatever has been sought by the appellant is a part of suo motu disclosures prescribed u/s 4(1)b of the RTI Act and there is nothing personal in it except for the names that can be severed under the provision of Section 10 of the RTI Act. With regard to point no 3, the appellant has sought the list of candidates who were not called for interview and the reasons thereof, which per se is not covered u/s 2(f) of the RTI Act and the CPIO also submitted that no such list is available with them.

Based on the above observations, the CPIO is directed to provide a revised reply to the appellant on point no 2 of the RTI application as per the availability of records with them while masking the personal details i.e. names etc u/s 10 of the RTI Act, within a period of 20 days from the date of receipt of this order under intimation to the Commission.

6 CIC/CDLKO/A/2017/182875-BJ+
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15 May, 2019 Mr. Lalit Kumar Jain Vs. CPIO, Central Drugs Laboratory, 3, KYD Street, Kolkata – 700016

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 04 points regarding the Flow Charts, Standard Operating procedures, Validation Plan, IQ, OQ, PQ, followed by CDTL, Kolkata to analyse each & every sample of Drugs received by it for testing as per pharmacopeias and as per label details, and other related issues.

Decision
The Commission referred to the definition of information u/s 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005 which is reproduced below:
“information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, emails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, report, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force.”

Furthermore, a reference can also be made to the relevant extract of Section 2 (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 which reads as under:

“(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 ........”

In this context a reference was made to the Hon’ble Supreme Court decision in 2011 (8) SCC 497 (CBSE and Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors), wherein it was held as under:

35..... “It is also not required to provide ‘advice’ or ‘opinion’ to an applicant, nor required to obtain and furnish any ‘opinion’ or ‘advice’ to an applicant. The reference to ‘opinion’ or ‘advice’ in the definition of ‘information’ in section 2(f) of the Act, only refers to such material available in the records of the public authority. Many public authorities have, as a public relation exercise, provide advice, guidance and opinion to the citizens. But that is purely voluntary and should not be confused with any obligation under the RTI Act.”

Furthermore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Khanapuram Gandaiah Vs. Administrative Officer and Ors. Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.34868 OF 2009 (Decided on January 4, 2010) had held as under:

6. “…..Under the RTI Act “information” is defined under Section 2(f) which provides: “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, emails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, report, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force.”

This definition shows that an applicant under Section 6 of the RTI Act can get any information which is already in existence and accessible to the public authority under law. Of course, under the RTI Act an applicant is entitled to get copy of the opinions, advices, circulars, orders, etc., but he cannot ask for any information as to why such opinions, advices, circulars, orders, etc. have been passed.”

7. “....the Public Information Officer is not supposed to have any material which is not before him; or any information he could have obtained under law. Under Section 6 of the RTI Act, an applicant is entitled to get only such information which can be accessed by the “public authority” under any other law for the time being in force. The answers sought by the petitioner in the application could not have been with the public authority nor could he have had access to this information and Respondent No. 4 was not obliged to give any reasons as to why he had taken such a decision in the matter which was before him.”

The Commission observed that a voluntary disclosure of all information that ought to be displayed in the public domain should be the rule and members of public who having to seek information should be an exception. An open government, which is the cherished objective of the RTI Act, can be realised only if all public offices comply with proactive disclosure norms. Section 4(2) of the RTI Act mandates every public authority to provide as much information suomotu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including the Internet, so that the public need not resort to the use of RTI Act. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of CBSE and Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors 2011 (8) SCC 497 held as under:

“37. The right to information is a cherished right. Information and right to information are intended to be formidable tools in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring in transparency and accountability. The provisions of RTI Act should be enforced strictly and all efforts should be made to bring to light the necessary information under Clause (b) of Section 4(1) of the Act which relates to securing transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in discouraging corruption.”

The Commission also observes the Hon’ble Delhi High Court ruling in WP (C) 12714/2009 Delhi Development Authority vs. Central Information Commission and Another (delivered on: 21.05.2010), wherein it was held as under:

“16.It also provides that the information should be easily accessible and to the extent possible should be in electronic format with the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. The word disseminate has also been defined in the explanation to mean - making the information known or communicating the information to the public through notice boards, newspapers, public announcements, media broadcasts, the internet, etc. It is, therefore, clear from a plain reading of Section 4 of the RTI Act that the information, which a public authority is obliged to publish under the said section should be made available to the public and specifically through the internet. There is no denying that the petitioner is duty bound by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 of the RTI Act to publish the information indicated in Section 4(1)(b) and 4(1)(c) on its website so that the public have minimum resort to the use of the RTI Act to obtain the information.”

Furthermore, High Court of Delhi in the decision of General Manager Finance Air India Ltd & Anr v. Virender Singh, LPA No. 205/2012, Decided On: 16.07.2012 had held as under:

“8. The RTI Act, as per its preamble was enacted to enable the citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. An informed citizenry and transparency of information have been spelled out as vital to democracy and to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. The said legislation is undoubtedly one of the most significant enactments of independent India and a landmark in governance. The spirit of the legislation is further evident from various provisions thereof which require public authorities to:

A. Publish inter alia:
i) the procedure followed in the decision making process;
ii) the norms for the discharge of its functions;
iii) rules, regulations, instructions manuals and records used by its employees in discharging of its functions;
iv) the manner and execution of subsidy programmes including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes;
v) the particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted. [see Section 4(1) (b), (iii), (iv), (v); (xii) & (xiii)].
B. Suo moto provide to the public at regular intervals as much information as possible [see Section 4(2)].”

The Commission also referred to the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Central Board of Secondary Education and Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors, SLP(C) NO.7526/2009 wherein it was held as under:

"Indiscriminate and impractical demands or directions under RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information (unrelated to transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities and eradication of corruption) would be counterproductive as it will adversely affect the efficiency of the administration and result in the executive getting bogged down with the non-productive work of collecting and furnishing information. The Act should not be allowed to be misused or abused, to become a tool to obstruct the national development and integration, or to destroy the peace, tranquillity and harmony among its citizens. Nor should it be converted into a tool of oppression or intimidation of honest officials striving to do their duty. The nation does not want a scenario where 75% of the staff of public authorities spends 75% of their time in collecting and furnishing information to applicants instead of discharging their regular duties. The threat of penalties under the RTI Act and the pressure of the authorities under the RTI Act should not lead to employees of public authorities prioritising 'information furnishing' at the cost of their normal and regular duties."

Furthermore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of ICAI vs. Shaunak H. Satya (2011) 8 SCC 781 dated 02.09.2011 had held as under:

“26. We however agree that it is necessary to make a distinction in regard to information intended to bring transparency, to improve accountability and to reduce corruption, falling under Section 4(1)(b) and (c) and other information which may not have a bearing on accountability or reducing corruption. The competent authorities under the RTI Act will have to maintain a proper balance so that while achieving transparency, the demand for information does not reach unmanageable proportions affecting other public interests, which include efficient operation of public authorities and government, preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information and optimum use of limited fiscal resources”

On perusal of the available records, the Commission also observed that in several queries raised in the RTI application, the Appellant did not seek any specific information but desired all information which was vague and ambiguous. In this context, the Commission referred to the
following observations made by the High Court of Bombay (Nagpur Bench) in the matter of State Information Commission vs. Tushar Dhananjay Mandlekar, LPA No. 276/ 2012 in Writ Petition No. 3818/2010 (D) dated 30.07.2012 which is relevant to the present matter:

“It is apparent from a reading of what is stated above that instead of seeking information on some specific issues, the respondent sought general information on scores of matters. The application is vague and the application does not make it clear to the Information Officer as to what information is actually sought by the respondent from the Officer. It was literally impossible for the appellants, as pointed by the learned Assistant Government Pleader, to supply the entire information sought by the respondent to the respondent within a period of 30 days. The documents ran into 3419 pages. We had asked the respondent while hearing of this letters patent appeal as to what action did the respondent take in pursuance of the information sought by the respondent after the information was supplied and it was replied by the respondent appearing in person that nothing was done on the basis of the information supplied by the appellants as there was some delay in supplying the information. It is really surprising that thousands of documents are being sought by the respondent from the authorities and none of the documents is admittedly brought into use. We are clearly of the view in the aforesaid backdrop that the application was filed with a mala fide intention and with a view to abuse the process of law.

In the aforesaid set of facts, we feel that there is no justification for imposing the costs of Rs.2,000/- on the appellant no.2. The principle of lex non cogit ad impossibilia is clearly applicable to the facts of the case. Law does not compel a person to do that what is impossible. In the facts of the present case, we feel that it was impossible for the appellant no.2 to supply the information which ran into thousands of pages to the respondent within a period of 30 days, as those pages were not readily available with the respondent on the day the application was filed and the Officers were required to search and collect the information, which was required to be supplied to the applicant.”

Furthermore, the High Court of Delhi in the matter of Shyam Kunwar vs. CIC and Ors., W.P. (C) 5099/ 2016 dated 30.05.2016 had held as under:

“Upon perusal of the RTI application filed by the petitioner in which information of attendance of all teachers have been asked for between the years 1993 and 2001, this Court is of the opinion that the information asked for is stale and no element of public interest is involved. It seems to this Court that the petitioner’s queries are at best a fishing and roving enquiry to challenge ‘Mr.Arun Arya’s meteoric rise from UDC to youngest ever Principal’”

The Commission observed that the framework of the RTI Act, 2005 restricts the jurisdiction of the Commission to provide a ruling on the issues pertaining to access/ right to information and to venture into the merits of a case or redressal of grievance. The Commission in a plethora of decisions including Shri Vikram Singh v. Delhi Police, North East District, CIC/SS/A/2011/001615 dated 17.02.2012 Sh. Triveni Prasad Bahuguna vs. LIC of India, Lucknow CIC/DS/A/2012/000906 dated 06.09.2012, Mr. H. K. Bansal vs. CPIO & GM (OP), MTNL CIC/LS/A/2011/000982/BS/1786 dated 29.01.2013 had held that RTI Act was not the proper law for redressal of grievances/disputes.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Union of India v. Namit Sharma in REVIEW PETITION [C] No.2309 OF 2012 IN Writ Petition [C] No.210 OF 2012 with State of Rajasthan and Anr. vs. Namit Sharma Review Petition [C] No.2675 OF 2012 In Writ Petition [C] No.210 OF 2012 had held as under:

“While deciding whether a citizen should or should not get a particular information “which is held by or under the control of any public authority”, the Information Commission does not decide a dispute between two or more parties concerning their legal rights other than their right to get information in possession of a public authority. This function obviously is not a judicial function, but an administrative function
conferred by the Act on the Information Commissions.”

Furthermore, the High Court of Delhi in the matter of Hansi Rawat and Anr. vs. Punjab National Bank and Ors. LPA No.785/2012 dated 11.01.2013 held as under:

“6. The proceedings under the RTI Act do not entail detailed adjudication of the said aspects. The dispute relating to dismissal of the appellant No.2 LPA No.785/2012 from the employment of the respondent Bank is admittedly pending consideration before the appropriate forum. The purport of the RTI Act is to enable the appellants to effectively pursue the said dispute. The question, as to what inference if any is to be drawn from the response of the PIO of the respondent Bank to the RTI application of the appellants, is to be drawn in the said proceedings and as aforesaid the proceedings under the RTI Act cannot be converted into proceedings for adjudication of disputes as to the correctness of the information furnished.”

Moreover, in a recent decision in Govt. of NCT vs. Rajendra Prasad WP (C) 10676/2016 dated 30.11.2017, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi had held as under:

6. The CIC has been constituted under Section 12 of the Act and the powers of CIC are delineated under the Act. The CIC being a statutory body has to act strictly within the confines of the Act and is neither required to nor has the jurisdiction to examine any other controversy or disputes.

7. In the present case, it is apparent that CIC had decided issues which were plainly outside the scope of the jurisdiction of CIC under the Act. The limited scope of examination by the CIC was: (i) whether the information sought for by the respondent was provided to him; (ii) if the same was denied, whether such denial was justified; (iii) whether any punitive action was required to be taken against the concerned PIO; and (iv) whether any directions under Section 19(8) were warranted. In addition, the CIC also exercises powers under Section 18 of the Act and also performs certain other functions as expressly provided under various provisions of the Act including Section 25 of the Act. It is plainly not within the jurisdiction of the CIC to examine the dispute as to whether
respondent no.2 was entitled to and was allotted a plot of land under the 20- Point Programme.

7 CIC/KSCHD/A/2017/604778-BJ+
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07 May, 2019 Mr. O. P. S. Marathia Vs. CPIO, Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, New Delhi – 110001

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 04 points regarding certified copies of the Recovery Orders issued by the KSCH for recovery of excess payment made to Staff Nurses (Now Nursing Officers) since 1st January, 2008; certified copies of file notings along with the correspondences made with the concerned Staff Nurses in this regard, etc.

Decision
With regard to providing a clear and cogent response to the Appellant, the Commission referred to the decision of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in J P Aggarwal v. Union of India (WP (C) no. 7232/2009 wherein it was held that:

“ 7“it is the PIO to whom the application is submitted and it is who is responsible for ensuring that the information as sought is provided to the applicant within the statutory requirements of the Act. Section 5(4) is simply to strengthen the authority of the PIO within the department; if the PIO finds a default by those from whom he has sought information. The PIO is expected to recommend a remedial action to be taken”. The RTI Act makes the PIO the pivot for enforcing the implementation of the Act.”

8………….The PIO is expected to apply his / her mind, duly analyse the material before him / her and then either disclose the information sought or give grounds for non-disclosure.”
Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of R.K. Jain vs Union of India, LPA No.369/2018, dated 29.08.2018, held as under:

“9………………………….. That apart, the CPIO being custodian of the information or the documents sought for, is primarily responsible under the scheme of the RTI Act to supply the information and in case of default or dereliction on his part, the penal action is to be invoked against him only.”

The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the case of Shri Vivek Mittal v. B.P. Srivastava, W.P.(C) 19122/2006 dated 24.08.2009 had upheld the view of the CIC and observed

“…..that a CPIO cannot escape his obligations and duties by stating that persons appointed under him had failed to collect documents and information. The Act as framed, castes obligation upon the CPIOs and fixes responsibility in case there is failure or delay in supply of information. It is the duty of the CPIOs to ensure that the provisions of the Act are fully complied with and in case of default, necessary consequences follow”.

The Commission was appalled to learn about the blatant violation of Section 19 (1) of the RTI Act, 2005 wherein it is specifically mentioned that “Any person who, does not receive a decision within the time specified in subsection (1) or clause (a) of sub-section (3) of section 7, or is aggrieved by a decision of the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may within thirty days from the expiry of such period or from the receipt of such a decision prefer an appeal to such officer who is senior in rank to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer as the case may be, in each public authority” . During the hearing, the Respondent informed that the First Appeal of the Appellant was replied on 04.07.2017 by the First Appellate Authority. However, on a closure perusal it was noted that the First Appeal of the Appellant in Case No. CIC/KSCHD/A/2017/604778-BJ was replied by the CPIO while referring to First Appeal dated 08.06.2017 which is in contravention to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005.

The Commission therefore referred to the OM No. 20/10/23/2007-IR dated 09.07.2009, wherein the distinction had been made between the appointment of the CPIO and FAA as per the provision of section 19(1) of the RTI Act, 2005. The relevant extract of the said OM is mentioned as under:

“3. Deciding appeals under the RTI Act is a quasi judicial function. It is, therefore, necessary that the appellate authority should see that the justice is not only done but it should also appear to have been done. In order to do so, the order passed by the appellate authority should be a speaking order giving justification for the decision arrived at.

5..............................The Act provides that the first appellate authority would be an officer senior in rank to the CPIO. Thus, the appellate authority, as per provisions of the Act, would be an officer in a commanding position vis a vis’ the CPIO. Nevertheless, if, in any case, the CPIO does not implement the order passed by the appellate authority and the appellate authority feels that intervention of higher authority is required to get his order implemented, he should bring the matter to the notice of the officer in the public authority competent to take against the CPIO. Such competent officer shall take necessary action so as to ensure implementation of the RTI Act.”

With regard to larger public interest involved in the matter raised by the Appellant in his RTI application, the Commission referred to the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Bihar Public Service Commission v. Saiyed Hussain Abbas Rizwi: (2012) 13 SCC 61 while explaining the term “Public Interest” held:

“22. The expression "public interest" has to be understood in its true connotation so as to give complete meaning to the relevant provisions of the Act. The expression "public interest" must be viewed in its strict sense with all its exceptions so as to justify denial of a statutory exemption in terms of the Act. In its common parlance, the expression "public interest", like "public purpose", is not capable of any precise definition. It does not have a rigid meaning, is elastic and takes its colour from the statute in which it occurs, the concept varying with time and state of society and its needs (State of Bihar v. Kameshwar Singh ([AIR 1952 SC 252]). It
also means the general welfare of the public that warrants recognition and protection; something in which the public as a whole has a stake [Black's Law Dictionary (8th Edn.)].”

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Ashok Kumar Pandey vs The State of West Bengal (decided on 18 November, 2003Writ Petition (crl.) 199 of 2003) had made reference to the following texts for defining the meaning of “public interest’, which is stated as under:

“Strouds Judicial Dictionary, Volume 4 (IV Edition),'Public Interest' is defined thus: "Public Interest (1) a matter of public or general interest does not mean that which is interesting as gratifying curiosity or a love of information or amusement but that in which a class of the community have a pecuniary interest, or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected."

In Black's Law Dictionary (Sixth Edition), "public interest" is defined as follows: Public Interest something in which the public, or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected. It does not mean anything the particular localities, which may be affected by the matters in question. Interest shared by national government....”

In Mardia Chemical Limited v. Union of India (2004) 4 SCC 311, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India while considering the validity of SARFAESI Act and recovery of non-performing assets by banks and financial institutions in India, recognized the significance of Public Interest and had held as under :

“.............Public interest has always been considered to be above the private interest. Interest of an individual may, to some extent, be affected but it cannot have the potential of taking over the public interest having an impact in the socio-economic drive of the country...........”

Every action of a Public Authority is expected to be carried out in Public Interest. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Kumari Shrilekha Vidyarthi, etc vs. State of UP and Ors., 1990 SCR Supl. (1) 625 dated 20.09.1990 wherein it had been held as under:

“Private parties are concerned only with their personal interest whereas the State while exercising its powers and discharging its functions, acts indubitably, as is expected of it, for public good and in public interest. The impact of every State action is also on public interest.”

Similarly, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of LIC of India vs. Consumer Education and Research Centre, AIR 1995 SC 1811 dated 10.05.1995 had held as under:

“Every action of the public authority or the person acting in public interest or its acts give rise to public element, should be guided by public interest. It is the exercise of the public power or action hedged with public element becomes open to challenge.”

Furthermore, several queries raised were of such a nature, the details of which should have been suo motu disclosed in the public domain in the interest of public at large. The Commission observed that a voluntary disclosure of all information that ought to be displayed in the public domain should be the rule and members of public seeking information should be an exception. An open government, which is the cherished objective of the RTI Act, can be realized only if all public offices comply with proactive disclosure norms. Section 4(2) of the RTI Act mandates every public authority to provide as much information suo-motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including the Internet, so that the public need not resort to the use of RTI Act. The
Commission therefore referred to the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of CBSE and Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors 2011 (8) SCC 497 held as under:

“37. The right to information is a cherished right. Information and right to information are intended to be formidable tools in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring in transparency and accountability. The provisions of RTI Act should be enforced strictly and all efforts should be made to bring to light the necessary information under Clause (b) of Section 4(1) of the Act which relates to securing transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in discouraging corruption.”

The Commission also refers to the Hon’ble Delhi High Court ruling in WP (C) 12714/2009 Delhi Development Authority v. Central Information Commission and Another (delivered on: 21.05.2010), wherein it was held as under:

“16. It also provides that the information should be easily accessible and to the extent possible should be in electronic format with the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. The word disseminate has also been defined in the explanation to mean - making the information known or communicating the
information to the public through notice boards, newspapers, public announcements, media broadcasts, the internet, etc. It is, therefore, clear from a plain reading of Section 4 of the RTI Act that the information, which a public authority is obliged to publish under the said section should be made available to the public and specifically through the internet. There is no denying that the petitioner is duty bound by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 of the RTI Act to publish the information indicated in Section 4(1)(b) and 4(1)(c) on its website so that the public have minimum resort to the use of the RTI Act to obtain the information.”

Furthermore, High Court of Delhi in the decision of General Manager Finance Air India Ltd & Anr v. Virender Singh, LPA No. 205/2012, Decided On: 16.07.2012 had held as under:

“8. The RTI Act, as per its preamble was enacted to enable the citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. An informed citizenry an transparency of information have been spelled out as vital to democracy and to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. The said legislation is undoubtedly one of the most significant enactments of independent India and a landmark in governance. The spirit of the legislation is further evident from various provisions thereof which require public authorities to:

A. Publish inter alia:
i) the procedure followed in the decision making process;
ii) the norms for the discharge of its functions;
iii) rules, regulations, instructions manuals and records used by its employees in
discharging of its functions;
iv) the manner and execution of subsidy programmes including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes;
v) the particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted. [see Section 4(1) (b), (iii), (iv), (v); (xii) & (xiii)].
B. Suo moto provide to the public at regular intervals as much information as possible [see Section 4(2)].”

Above all the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the decision of R.B.I. and Ors. V. Jayantilal N. Mistry and Ors, Transferred Case (Civil) No. 91 of 2015 (Arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil)No. 707 of 2012 decided on 16.12.2015 had held as under:

“The ideal of ‘Government by the people’ makes it necessary that people have access to information on matters of public concern. The free flow of information about affairs of Government paves way for debate in public policy and fosters accountability in Government. It creates a condition for ‘open governance’ which is a foundation of democracy.”

The Commission observed that there is complete negligence and laxity in the public authority in dealing with the RTI applications. It is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored and set aside without application of mind which reflects disrespect towards the RTI Act, 2005 itself. The Commission expressed its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the respondent in responding to the RTI application. It was felt that the conduct of Respondent was against the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 which was enacted to ensure greater transparency and effective access to the information. The public authority is also advised to re-examine the methodology by which the RTI applications are dealt with in this organization and evolve a robust mechanism for quick disposal of RTI matters in letter and spirit respecting the provisions of RTI Act.

Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties, the Commission instructs the FAA to re-examine the points raised by the Appellant during the hearing and provide a suitable response with necessary enclosures within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of this order. The Commission would further advise the Director Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital to develop a robust mechanism for the digitization of all administrative records of the Public Authority in accordance with Section 4 of the RTI Act, 2005 to ensure its availability and preservation in posterity. Taking strong exception to the inadequate knowledge of the CPIO of its duties and responsibilities enshrined in the RTI Act, 2005, the Commission would like to place on record its immense displeasure over the functioning of the CPIO. The Director is instructed to initiate steps to strengthen its administrative mechanism considering the larger public interest in mind.

The Commission also instructs the Respondent Public Authority to convene periodic conferences/seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

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03 May, 2019 Mr. Ashish Darak Vs. CPIO, Chemical Examiner GR – II, 3rd Floor, Central Excise Building, Ellora Park, Vadodara – 390023

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 06 points regarding the copy of the note sheets/ notings with regard to the samples of the Chemical Engineer and Others at CRCL, certified copy of all correspondence between the CRCL/ Chemical Engineer and the Revenue Department with regard to the aforementioned samples, method under which the Tests and Samples were conducted by the Chemical Examiner, etc.

Decision
The Commission finds the following observation of the Hon’ble High Court Delhi in Bhagat Singh v.CIC & Ors. WP(C) 3114/2007 pertinent in this matter.

“13. Access to information, under Section 3 of the Act, is the rule and exemptions under Section 8, the exception. Section 8 being a restriction on this fundamental right, must therefore is to be strictly construed. It should not be interpreted in manner as to shadow the very right itself. Under Section 8, exemption from releasing information is granted if it would impede the process of investigation or the prosecution of the offenders. It is apparent that the mere existence of an investigation process cannot be a ground for refusal of the information; the authority withholding information must show satisfactory reasons as to why the release of such information would hamper the investigation process. Such reasons should be germane, and the opinion of the process being hampered should be reasonable and based on some material. Sans this consideration, Section 8(1)(h) and other such provisions would become a haven for dodging demands for information.”

Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in B.S. Mathur v. PIO in W.P. (C) 295 of 2011 dated 03.06.2011 had held that:

“19. The question that arises for consideration has already been formulated in the Court's order dated 21st April 2011: Whether the disclosure of the information sought by the Petitioner to the extent not supplied to him yet would "impede the investigation" in terms of Section 8(1)(h) RTI Act" The scheme of the RTI Act, its objects and reasons indicate that disclosure of information is the rule and non-disclosure the exception. A public authority which seeks to withhold information available with it has to show that the information sought is of the nature specified in Section 8 RTI Act. As regards Section 8(1)(h) RTI Act, which is the only provision invoked by the Respondent to deny the Petitioner the information sought
by him, it will have to be shown by the public authority that the information sought "would impede the process of investigation." The mere reproducing of the wording of the statute would not be sufficient when recourse is had to Section 8(1)(h) RTI Act. The burden is on the public authority to show in what manner the disclosure of such information would 'impede' the investigation...............

22. ...........The mere pendency of an investigation or inquiry is by itself not a sufficient justification for withholding information. It must be shown that the disclosure of the information sought would "impede" or even on a lesser threshold "hamper" or "interfere with" the investigation. This burden the Respondent has failed to discharge.”

Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in Adesh Kumar v. UOI and Ors. W.P. (C) 3542/ 2014 dated 16.12.2014 had held as under:

“10. A bare perusal of the order passed by the FAA also indicates that the aspect as to how the disclosure of information would impede prosecution has not been considered. Merely, citing that the information is exempted under Section 8(1)(h) of the Act would not absolve the public authority from discharging its onus as required to claim such exemption. Thus,
neither the FAA nor the CIC has questioned the Public Authority as to how the disclosure of information would impede the prosecution.”

Moreover, it was observed that as per the provisions of section 8 (1) of the RTI Act, 2005, no specific exemption is codified which allowed non-disclosure of information on the ground that the matter on which information is sought is sub-judice. In this context, the following extract of the decision of the High Court of Delhi in Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. R.K. Jain in W.P. (C) 14120/ 2009 dated 23.09.2010 can be cited:

“5...........The matter being sub judice before a court is not one of the categories of information which is exempt from disclosure under any of the clauses of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act.”

The Commission observed that the RTI Act, 2005 stipulates time limits in its various provisions relating to responding to RTI Applications, transfer of applications, filing and disposing of first appeal to ensure that a culture of information dissemination is strengthened so that a robust functioning of the democracy gets established. This was recognised by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in Mujibur Rehman vs Central Information Commission (W.P. (C) 3845/2007)(Dated 28 April, 2009) wherein it was held as under:

“14.......The court cannot be unmindful of the circumstances under which the Act was framed, and brought into force. It seeks to foster an “openness culture” among state agencies, and a wider section of “public authorities” whose actions have a significant or lasting impact on the people and their lives. Information seekers are to be furnished what they ask for, unless the Act prohibits disclosure; they are not to be driven away through sheer inaction or filibustering tactics of the public authorities or their officers. It is to ensure these ends that time limits have been prescribed, in absolute terms, as well as penalty provisions. These are meant to ensure a culture of information disclosure so necessary for a robust and functioning democracy.”

The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the case of J.P Agrawal v. Union of India-2013(287) ELT25(Del.) held as under:

7.“it is the PIO to whom the application is submitted and it is who is responsible for ensuring that the information as sought is provided to the applicant within the statutory requirements of the Act. Section 5(4) is simply to strengthen the authority of the PIO within the department; if the PIO finds a default by those from whom he has sought information. The PIO is expected to recommend a remedial action to be taken”. The RTI Act makes the PIO the pivot for enforcing the implementation of the Act.

8..............The PIO is expected to apply his / her mind, duly analyse the material before him / her and then either disclose the information sought or give grounds for non-disclosure. A responsible officer cannot escape his responsibility by saying that he depends on the work of his subordinates. The PIO has to apply his own mind independently and take the appropriate decision and cannot blindly approve / forward what his subordinates have done.”

Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of R.K. Jain vs Union of India, LPA No. 369/2018, dated 29.08.2018, held as under:

“9………………………….. That apart, the CPIO being custodian of the information or the documents sought for, is primarily responsible under the scheme of the RTI Act to supply the information and in case of default or dereliction on his part, the penal action is to be invoked against him only.”

The Commission felt that there is complete negligence and laxity in the public authority in dealing with the RTI applications. It is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored and set aside without application of mind which reflects disrespect towards the RTI Act, 2005 itself. The Commission expressed its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the respondent in responding to the RTI application. It was felt that the conduct of Respondent was against the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 which was enacted to ensure greater transparency and effective access to the
information.

Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties and in the light of the decisions cited above, the Commission instructs the Respondent to provide point-wise information to the Appellant within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of this order.
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02 May, 2019 Mr. Yashpal Kumar Vs. CPIO Dy. Director (NL) – I, Blk. A / 303, 3rd Floor, Vikas Sadan, INA, New Delhi – 110023

Information Sought
The Appellant / Complainant vide his RTI application sought information 02 points regarding the transfer of 3 Bigha 1 Biswa Land of the Khasra Number mentioned in the RTI application, Present Status of the land (Commercial/Residential, etc).

Decision
Both the parties remained absent during the hearing. On perusal of the records it was observed that no reply had been sent to the Appellant / Complainant. In the absence of both the parties, the Commission could not ascertain the factual position.

The Commission also observed that the RTI Act, 2005 stipulates time limits in its various provisions relating to responding to RTI Applications, transfer of applications, filing and disposing of first appeal to ensure that a culture of information dissemination is strengthened so that a robust functioning of the democracy gets established. This was recognised by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in Mujibur Rehman vs Central Information Commission (W.P. (C) 3845/2007)(Dated 28 April, 2009) wherein it was held as under:

“14.......The court cannot be unmindful of the circumstances under which the Act was framed, and brought into force. It seeks to foster an “openness culture” among state agencies, and a wider section of “public authorities” whose actions have a significant or lasting impact on the people and their lives. Information seekers are to be furnished what they ask for, unless the Act prohibits disclosure; they are not to be driven away through sheer inaction or filibustering tactics of the public authorities or their officers. It is to ensure these ends that time limits have been prescribed, in absolute terms, as well as penalty provisions. These are meant to ensure a culture of information disclosure so necessary for a robust and functioning democracy.”

The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the case of J.P Agrawal v. Union of India-2013(287) ELT25(Del.) held as under:

7.“it is the PIO to whom the application is submitted and it is who is responsible for ensuring that the information as sought is provided to the applicant within the statutory requirements of the Act. Section 5(4) is simply to strengthen the authority of the PIO within the department; if the PIO finds a default by those from whom he has sought information. The PIO is expected to recommend a remedial action to be taken”. The RTI Act makes the PIO the pivot for enforcing the implementation of the Act.

8..............The PIO is expected to apply his / her mind, duly analyse the material before him / her and then either disclose the information sought or give grounds for non-disclosure. A
responsible officer cannot escape his responsibility by saying that he depends on the work of his subordinates. The PIO has to apply his own mind independently and take the appropriate decision and cannot blindly approve / forward what his subordinates have done.”

Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of R.K. Jain vs Union of India, LPA No. 369/2018, dated 29.08.2018, held as under:

“9………………………….. That apart, the CPIO being custodian of the information or the documents sought for, is primarily responsible under the scheme of the RTI Act to supply the information and in case of default or dereliction on his part, the penal action is to be invoked against him only.”

The Commission observed that there is complete negligence and laxity in the public authority in dealing with the RTI applications. It is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored and set aside without application of mind which reflects disrespect towards the RTI Act, 2005 itself. The Commission expressed its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the respondent in responding to the RTI application. It was felt that the conduct of Respondent was against the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 which was enacted to ensure greater transparency and effective access to the information.

Keeping in view the facts of the case and no submissions available on record, the Commission directs Pr. Commissioner and Secretary, DDA to depute an officer of appropriate seniority to enquire into the matter and furnish information to the Appellant as per the provisions of the RTI
Act, 2005 within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of this order besides fixing responsibility and accountability on the concerned CPIO. A copy of the report should be furnished to the Appellant / Complainant under intimation to the Commission.

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01 May, 2019 Rakesh Kumar Jha Vs. CPIO, Ministry of Civil Aviation, New Delhi-110003

Information Sought
The Appellant sought information through 13 points regarding ‘Operation Rahat’ conducted during the Yemen crisis.

Decision
Commission based on the perusal of facts on record finds no scope of intervention in the reply provided by Ms. Vasudha Chandna, GM-FD & CPIO, Air India Ltd. Further, the delay in providing the same is also condoned as the information sought is indeed exhaustive and at many places required deduction and interpretation of the CPIO given the interrogative nature of the queries. As regards the issue faced by CPIOs of Air India Ltd. in dealing with RTI Applications, a copy of this order is marked to the Chairman & Managing Director, Air India Ltd. to take appropriate action for redressing the internal system of processing RTI Applications. In doing so, a Nodal RTI Cell may be set up for better and quicker disposal of RTI Applications such as the present one which requires collation of data from several departments. This will ensure that the Nodal Cell will have a CPIO each for every department, who will be responsible to liaise with the department assigned to him and provide information directly to the applicants.

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13 Feb, 2019 Pushpa Devi Vs. CPIO, Central Coalfield Limited, Ramgarh, Jharkhand

Information sought
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Central Coalfield Limited (CCL), Ramgarh, Jharkhand seeking a certified copy of service records of her late husband Shri Budhnath Badhwar (PIS No. 12129086).

Decision
The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that the appellant is seeking information pertaining to the deceased Shri Budhnath Badhwar. The Commission observes that the legal heir of a deceased is entitled to receive information pertaining to the deceased person. However, the appellant should produce a valid document(s) to show that she is a legal heir of the deceased to get the information. The Commission, therefore, directs the CPIO to provide information to the appellant within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy a death certificate of late Shri Budhnath Badhwar and a document to establish that the appellant is his legal heir.

The Commission also observes that no reply in response to the RTI application was furnished to the appellant. The Commission, therefore, directs the Registry of this Bench to issue a Show Cause Notice to the CPIO, Central Coalfield Limited, Ramgarh, Jharkhand for explaining as to why action under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act should not be initiated against him.
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08 Jan, 2019 Rajesh Kumar Vs. CPIO, DGM (G), Northeast Frontier Railway, Maligaon, Guwahati

Information requested
The Complainant sought to know personal details including name, father’s name and permanent addresses of all Assistant Loco Pilots, Senior Loco Pilots posted at New Jalpaiguri and senior Loco Pilots of Passenger Mail Express.

Decision
Based on the relief sought in the Complaint, the instant matter is being treated as a Second Appeal.

Commission observes that the reply provided by Respondent No. (2) is completely inappropriate as it was incumbent upon him to seek assistance of the concerned holder of information under Section 5(4) of the RTI Act.

Now, Commission directs Respondent No.2 to provide to the Complainant the names of all Assistant Loco Pilots and Senior Loco Pilots posted at New Jalpaiguri as well as Senior Loco Pilot of Passenger Mail Express after procuring the same from the concerned branch. The said information will be provided free of cost within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order and a compliance report to this effect shall be duly sent to the Commission.

The remaining details such as father’s name and permanent address of the third parties sought in the RTI Application will be exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act. Hence no relief is ordered in this regard.
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08 Jan, 2019 Mr. S. Thiyagarajan Vs. CPIO, National Insurance Company Limited, Vellore

Information requested
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 86 points inter alia the list of agents of the DO and all branches along with their phone numbers from 2006 to 31/12/2016, whether Transfer Mobilisation Policy -150 Km was implemented from 2006 to 20/1/2017, if yes, the transfer details of all the staffs, whether the Micro offices fell under the DOs, if yes, the list of the addresses and staff details thereof and other issues related thereto.

Dissatisfied due to the non-receipt of any response from the CPIO, the Appellant approached the FAA. The reply of the CPIO/ order of the FAA, if any, are not on record of the Commission.

Decision
The Commission felt that correct and timely response was the essence of the RTI mechanism enacted to ensure transparency and accountability in the working of Public Authorities. In this context, the Commission referred to the decision of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Mujibur Rehman vs Central Information Commission (W.P. (C) 3845/2007) (Dated 28 April, 2009) wherein it had been held as under:

The court cannot be unmindful of the circumstances under which the Act was framed, and brought into force. It seeks to foster an "openness culture" among state agencies, and a wider section of "public authorities" whose actions have a significant or lasting impact on the people and their lives. Information seekers are to be furnished what they ask for, unless the Act prohibits disclosure; they are not to be driven away through sheer inaction or filibustering tactics of the public authorities or their officers. It is to ensure these ends that time limits have been prescribed, in absolute terms, as well as penalty provisions. These are meant to ensure a culture of information disclosure so necessary for a robust and functioning democracy.”

Furthermore, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court decision in J P Aggarwal v. Union of India (WP (C) no. 7232/2009 it has held that:

“The PIO is expected to apply his / her mind, duly analyse the material before him / her and then either disclose the information sought or give grounds for non-disclosure.”

A reference was drawn to the decision of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the case of J.P Agrawal v. Union of India-2013(287) ELT25(Del.) wherein it was held as under:

“It is the PIO to whom the application is submitted and it is who is responsible for ensuring that the information as sought is provided to the applicant within the statutory requirements of the Act. Section 5(4) is simply to strengthen the authority of the PIO within the department; if the PIO finds a default by those from whom he has sought information. The PIO is expected to recommend a remedial action to be taken”. The RTI Act makes the PIO the pivot for enforcing the implementation of the Act.”

Furthermore, in OM No. 20/10/23/2007-IR dated 09.07.2009, while elaborating on the duties and responsibilities of the FAA, it was stated that:

Deciding appeals under the RTI Act is a quasi-judicial function. It is, therefore, necessary that the appellate authority should see that the justice is not only done but it should also appear to have been done. In order to do so, the order passed by the appellate authority should be a speaking order giving justification for the decision arrived at.

The Commission observed that there is complete negligence and laxity in the public authority in dealing with the RTI applications. It is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored and set aside without application of mind which reflects disrespect towards the RTI Act, 2005 itself. The Commission expressed its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the respondent in responding to the RTI application. It was felt that the conduct of Respondent was against the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 which was enacted to ensure greater transparency and effective access to the information.

Keeping in view the facts of the case and on perusal of records, the Commission remands the case to the FAA to examine the matter on merits and issue a speaking order within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of this order. The Commission also cautions the CPIO to attend to the RTI applications diligently in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005.

The Commission also instructs the Respondent Public Authority (CMD) to convene periodic conferences/seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

The Appeal stands disposed with the above direction.

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04 Jan, 2019 Mohd. Shahabuddin Vs. CPIO, State Bank of India, Muzaffarpur

Information requested
The complainant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), State Bank of India, Chandwara Branch, Muzaffarpur, seeking information on four points pertaining to unauthorized withdrawal from his Savings Account 100xxxxxx16, including, inter-alia, (i) the competent authority vide whose order unauthorized withdrawal of Rs. 1200/- was made from his account by the Bank, and (ii) the justification for withdrawal of the above said amount.

Decision
The Commission, after hearing the submission of the complainant and perusing the records observes that, a reply dated 21.11.2017 has been furnished by the respondent to the complainant in response to his RTI application dated 26.09.2017. Hence, there has been a delay of about a month in responding to the RTI application. Further, the complainant stated during the hearing that incomplete information has been furnished to him. Moreover, since the respondent was not present in the hearing, the reason for the same could not be ascertained. The Commission, therefore, directs the Registry of this Bench to issue a Show Cause Notice to the CPIO, State Bank of India, Regional Office, Muzaffarpur, for explaining as to why action under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act should not be initiated against him.
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31 Dec, 2018 Rajesh Kumar Sharma Vs. CPIO, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Head Office, Gurgaon.

Information requested
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Oriental Bank of Commerce, Corporate Office, Gurgaon, seeking information on five points pertaining to the letters written by M/o Finance to CVO of the Bank, including, inter-alia, (i) the current status of the letter dated 10.02.2016 received from the Ministry along with the action taken thereon by the Bank, and (ii) the current status of the letter dated 12.01.2017 written by him to the CVO of the Bank along with the action taken thereon.

Decision
The Commission observes that the appellant has a right to know as to what action has been taken by the respondent authority on his complaints. The Commission observes that the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of Kamal Bhasin vs. Radha Krishna Mathur and Ors., [W.P.(C) 7218/2016 dated 01.11.2017] had held as under:

In the present case, the petitioner stands as a relator party as he is also one of the complainants. The petitioner is not seeking any personal information regarding respondent No. 3, but merely seeks to know the outcome of the complaint made by him and other such complaints. The PFC Officers Association had pointed out certain conduct which according to them was irregular and warranted disciplinary action; thus, they would be certainly entitled to know as to how their complaints have been treated and the results thereof.

In the circumstances, this Court directs the respondent to disclose to the petitioner as to what action had been taken pursuant to his complaint and other similar complaints made against the then CMD. The petitioner would not be entitled to any noting and deliberations of the Group of Officers or Disciplinary Authority but only information as to what action was taken in relation to the complaints in question.”
Total Case uploaded: 123