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RTI >> Judgments >> CIC >> Miscellaneous (Law of Precedence, Compliant and Appeal, Freedom of Speech, Transparency in admission/selection)
Supreme Court(Miscellaneous (Law of Precedence, Compliant and Appeal, Freedom of Speech, Transparency in admission/selection))/ High Courts(Miscellaneous (Law of Precedence, Compliant and Appeal, Freedom of Speech, Transparency in admission/selection))
S.No. CIC CASE DATE OF JUDGMENT JUDGMENT
1 CIC/IARMY/A/2018/123025/SD
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31 Jul, 2019 Aditya Shankar Choudhuri Vs. CPIO, Addl DG MT (AE), IHQ of MoD (Army),

Information Sought
The Appellant sought information regarding the exact policy constraint vide which the grant of initial re-employment has not been found feasible and number of officers who were denied re-employment from 01.01.2017 to 30.11.2017.

Decision
Rep. of CPIO submitted that they have provided copy of the relevant para of MS Branch Policy letter sought at para iii (b) of the RTI Application and is not in a position to comment on Appellant’s dissatisfaction regarding application of the said policy letter in his case. He further submitted that information sought at para iii (c) of the RTI Application required collection and collation of data from different Units leading to disproportionate diversion of resources of public authority.

In view of proceedings during hearing, Commission observes that the Appellant has no issues with the reply provided by the CPIO on para iii(b) of the RTI Application but anguished on wrong application of the relevant Policy in his case. CPIO’s response on para iii(c) that collection and collation of information sought will involve disproportionate diversion of resources of the public authority, is upheld. In view of the foregoing, no further action lies. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.

2 CIC/DGITH/A/2018/609905-BJ
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06 Jun, 2019 Mr. Aftab Alam Vs. CPIO, Directorate of Income Tax, New Delhi

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information in respect of letter dated 26.07.2017 addressed to All Principal Chief Commissioner of Income-Tax regarding benefits of reservation to ESM, who applied for various examination before joining Civil post/ services in Govt. Jobs/ offices on Civil side, etc., the certified copies of replies submitted by Office of different Pr. CCIT/CCA via fax/E-mail/registered post/Speed post or any other means of communication to Directorate of Income-tax (HRD), etc.

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

Decision
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.”

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 Commission also 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 su omotu 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 Hon’ble Delhi High Court in WP (C) 12714/2009 Delhi Development Authority v. Central Information Commission and Another (delivered on: 21.05.2010 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 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, recognised 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...........”

The Commission thus 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 Appellant was not present to contest the submissions of the Respondent or to substantiate his claims further.

Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by the Respondent, the Commission expressed concern over the implementation of the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 in HRD Div. of Dte. of Income Tax. While cautioning the CPIO over the total neglect and utmost disrespect shown towards the implementation of the RTI Act, 2005, the Commission advises the Chairman, CBDT to sensitize and 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 accordingly.

3 CIC/CCITC/A/2018/104266-BJ
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06 Jun, 2019 Mr. Bharat Gandhi Vs. CPIO, Office of the ITO, Udhampur – 182101

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 03 points regarding the Constitution of the Firm Gandhi Bros. along with the name of partners/owners & their addresses with other details thereof; status of the Firm with its date of Constitution & Activity; whether the Firm Gandhi Bros. was registered in the Court of Law/Notary Public, under Income Tax Act, 1961, etc.

Decision
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.

A similar view delineating the scope of the Commission’s jurisdiction was also taken by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in Sher Singh Rawat vs. Chief Information Commissioner and Ors., W.P. (C) 5220/2017 and CM No. 22184/2017 dated 29.08.2017 and in the matter of Shobha Vijender vs. Chief Information Commissioner W.P. (C) No. 8289/2016 and CM 34297/2016 dated 29.11.2017.

Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties, no further intervention of the Commission is required in the matter. For redressal of his grievance, the Appellant is advised to approach an appropriate forum.

The Appeal stands disposed accordingly.


4 CIC/SB/A/2016/000119
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03 Jun, 2019 Smt. Rama Aggarwal Vs. CPIO, Delhi Police O/o ADCP

Information Sought
The Commission, vide order dated 22.02.2017, directed the CPIO, South District, Delhi Police to provide information, on the basis of the records available with the then IO, Vasant Kunj PS to the appellant within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.

Decision
The Commission observes that the RTI Act, 2005 does not confer any power of review to the Commission. Hence, no further intervention of the Commission is required in the matter.

With the above observations, the review petition of the appellant is disposed of.

Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.

5 CIC/DDATY/A/2017/172608-BJ
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06 May, 2019 Mr. Saurabh Sachdeva Vs. CPIO, Assistant Director (LSB), Vikas Sadan, DDA, INA New Delhi – 110023

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 13 points regarding the list of successful / unsuccessful candidates (MIG category) in the DDA, Rohini Residential Scheme, 1981; the reasons for not allotting the plots / MIG in Rohini to successful candidates, etc.

Decision
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 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 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 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....”

Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions available on record, the Commission directs the Pr. Commissioner and Secretary, DDA to enquire into the matter through an officer of appropriate seniority 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 for the errant behavior of disrespecting the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. A copy of the report should be furnished to the Appellant under intimation to the Commission. Non-compliance of the aforementioned order would be viewed strictly and directions may be issued against the Pr. Commissioner and Secretary, DDA to ensure his presence before the Commission in accordance with Section 5 (4) of the RTI Act, 2005.

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.

6 CIC/JNUND/A/2017/156804/00578
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06 May, 2019 Pramod Kumar Vs. CPIO DR (Legal Cell) RTI Cell (Admn Block), JNU, New Delhi – 110067

Information Sought
The appellant has sought the following information:
1. Duties and responsibilities of Section Officer with respect to Admission Branch – II, JNU.
2. Duties and responsibilities of Senior Assistant with respect to Admission Branch – II, JNU.
3. Duties and responsibilities of Junior Assistant with respect to Admission Branch – II, JNU.
4. Duties and responsibilities of Computer Operator (Regular/ Contractual) with respect to Admission Branch – II, JNU.
5. And other related information.

Decision
“12 In this case, the Commission has received petitions from employees of public authorities on such matters as implementation of Court and Tribunal orders, by the public authority; action taken on the petitions in service matters filed by the employee demand for explanation about why an employee was transferred from one post to another; reasons why a public authority started any disciplinary proceeding against the employee; why was an employee not empanelled for promotion; and so on. Irrespective of the merit of such RTI applications and irrespective of whether these are admissible under the RTI Act, the important point that emerges is that employees of the public authority are using the RTI Act to pressurize, browbeat or harass the public authority in order to force them to take decisions or rescind a decision in respect of a certain employee. Such employees may or may not succeed in their endeavors, but the fact that they use the RTI Act in a given way shows that they are treating the Act as a means to the disciplinary control of their superiors in the public authority. The Right to Information Act was not meant to sub-serve such ends. It shall be a sad day if the provisions of this Act become a plaything in the hands of employees of public authorities.”

In so far as the reply provided by the CPIO is concerned, the Commission observed that whatever records/ information were available with the respondent was adequately provided to the appellant. Moreover, when duties and responsibilities of staff are already available on the website, there is no requirement of providing any separate reply. The appellant was also advised to contact the respondent office vide letter dated 26.09.2017 for any further information.

The reply provided to the appellant was found to be appropriate. The Commission advises the appellant to exercise his right to information in a constructive manner and avoid filing frivolous RTI applications and second appeals to harass the public authority.

7 CIC/MHOME/A/2017/187497/SD
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02 May, 2019 Pradeep Kumar Soni Vs. CPIO, Department of Personnel and Training, North Block, New Delhi – 110001.

Information Sought
The Appellant sought information through 52 points regarding various subject matters.

Decision
Commission has perused the decision in File No. CIC/MHOME/A/2017/187498 dated 19.02.2019 and observes that the same was with respect to the reply provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs on the instant RTI Application as well as against the First Appeal filed with the same Ministry.

While, the instant case has been filed against the reply of CPIO, DoPT on the RTI Application upon its transfer from Ministry of Home Affairs and subsequent FAA’s order of DoPT.

Commission upholds the submission of S.P.R. Tripathi, US & CPIO, Anil Bajpei, US & CPIO, DoPT.

Commission observes from the perusal of facts on record that the Appellant has filed a frivolous RTI Application as he has sought for all and sundry information under the garb of transparency even as most of the queries do not even conform to Section 2(f) of RTI Act. The manner of seeking the information is akin to interviewing the CPIO about anything and everything related to Central Government and State Government administration. Appellant has also not conformed to Rule 3 of RTI Rules, 2012 which prescribes that a RTI Application should ordinarily not contain more than five hundred words. Appellant appears to ave grossly misconceived the idea of exercising his Right to Information as being absolute and unconditional on the pretext of being a Social Activist.

It is relevant here to bring out the Hon'ble Supreme Court's observation in Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) & anr. v. Aditya Bandhopadhyay and others [(2011) 8 SCC 497] stating that:

"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. But in regard to other information, (that is information other than those enumerated in section 4(1)(b) and (c) of the Act), equal importance and emphasis are given to other public interests (like confidentiality of sensitive information, fidelity and fiduciary relationships, efficient operation of governments, etc.). 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 counter-productive 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, tranquility 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 a public authorities prioritising 'information furnishing', at the cost of their normal and regular duties."

Similarly, in ICAI v. Shaunak H. Satya, (2011) 8 SCC781 the Hon'ble Supreme Court has held that:-

"39. 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 Sections 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 the Government, preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information and optimum use of limited fiscal resources."

In the matter of Rajni Maindiratta- Vs Directorate of Education (North West -B) [W.P.(C) No. 7911/2015] the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi has held that:

"8. Though undoubtedly, the reason for seeking the information is not required to be disclosed but when it is found that the process of the law is being abused, the same become relevant. Neither the authorities created under the RTI Act nor the Courts are helpless if witness the provisions of law being abused and owe a duty to immediately put a stop thereto."

The aforesaid dicta essentially proves that the misuse of RTI Act is a well-recognized bane and citizens such as the Appellant should take note that their right to information is not afterall absolute. Keeping this in view, Commission advises the Appellant to make judicious use of the cherished statute of RTI Act in future.

8 CIC/NCCLD/A/2017/177362
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02 May, 2019 Divakar Kumar Vs. CPIO, Bharat Coking Coal Limited, Koyla Nagar, Dhanbad

Information Sought
The appellant filed an online application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), Dhanbad seeking information on two points pertaining to sexual harassment of female employees working in Coal India Limited (CIL) or its subsidiary, BCCL, including, inter-alia, (i) a copy of the circular / order / instructions prescribing the detailed procedure to be followed by the respondent authority in case any harassment against female employee is reported, and (ii) a copy of the guidelines/directives for the Controlling Authority of the aggrieved female employee for taking necessary action at their end.

Decision
The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that as per the respondent, there is no separate circular/guidelines of BCCL regarding the procedure to be adopted/followed by it when an incident of sexual harassment at workplace (BCCL/CIL) is reported by a female employee other than the one laid down in Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. In view of this, the Commission directs the respondent to file an affidavit with the Commission deposing that there is no separate circular/guidelines issued by CIL/BCCL for laying down the procedure to be followed when a complaint of sexual harassment is received by it other than the one laid down in Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Hence, no information can be provided to the appellant on point no. 1 of his RTI application. A copy of the affidavit shall also be provided to the appellant. The Commission further directs the respondent to provide the information sought vide point no. 2 of the RTI application regarding the action taken by the Controlling Authority of the aggrieved female employee when a complaint of harassment/molestation is received by it. The above directions of the Commission shall be complied with, within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.

9 CIC/NCIPM/A/2018/614841/00558
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01 May, 2019 Anil Kumar Sidharth Vs. Central Public Information Officer, ICAR – National Research Centre for Integrated Pest Management, Lal Bahadur Shastri Building, Pusa Campus, New Delhi- 110 012

Information sought
1. Certified copy of the biometric attendance for the period from 10.11.2017 till date in respect of Sh. Randhir Singh, Assistant Finance & Accounts Officer.
2. Complete details regarding date, number of days and all type of leaves including station leave availed for the period from 10.11.2017 to till date in respect of Randhir Singh, Assistant Finance & Accounts Officer.

Decision
From a perusal of the relevant case records and considering the submissions of the CPIO, it is noted that the reply of the CPIO dated 20.03.2018 is grossly incorrect and the FAA in his order has also erred in upholding such an improper reply. The impropriety of these orders is on account of the RTI application being rejected stating that it should have been filed before the concerned public authority under the State Government. It is to be noted that NCIPM is a research institute which comes under ICAR. The ICAR itself comes under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare, Government of India, hence ICAR is a public authority under the Central Government and not under the State Government. Giving such an erroneous reply is appalling as this amounts to misguiding the appellant. Interestingly, the CPIO was not even aware that such a reply has been given online.

It is also noted that the appellant over time has filed multiple RTI applications which more or less cover the same subject matter in respect of a person, namely, Shri Randhir Singh Assistant Finance & Accounts Officer. It seems that the appellant by way of his RTI applications is trying to settle his personal vendetta against the said person. The appellant should note that every single repetition of a RTI application would unnecessarily demand the valuable time of the public authority, First Appellate Authority and if it also reaches the Second Appeal, that of the Commission. Such RTI applications of repetitive kind lead to obstruction of the flow of information with respect to other applicants and defeats the very purpose of the RTI Act. The said Act should be used wisely
and responsibly.

At this juncture, the Commission finds it relevant to draw attention to the observation made by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the matter of CBSE Vs Aditya Bandopadhyay, 2011 8 SCC which is reproduced as below,

“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 counter-productive 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, tranquility 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 a public authorities prioritising ‘information furnishing’, at the cost of their normal and regular duties.”

The Commission holds that there is no public interest in this appeal, rather it is a case of private vengeance against a particular individual working in the same office. By filing multiple RTI applications on the same subject, the appellant is wasting the time and resources of the Public Authority and the Commission, for which the Commission admonishes the appellant.

10 CIC/LICOI/A/2017/178980-BJ +
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22 Apr, 2019 Mr. N Sunil Kumar Vs. CPIO & Manager (CRM), LIC of India

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information / clarification on 02 points regarding regularization of temporary employees and selection of open market candidates and inter alia desired the reasons for not selecting him for the post of sub-staff despite securing more marks (scored 78 marks) than Sri T. Ravinder Singh, who had scored 69 marks, etc.

Decision
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.

A similar view delineating the scope of the Commission’s jurisdiction was also taken by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in Sher Singh Rawat vs. Chief Information Commissioner and Ors., W.P. (C) 5220/2017 and CM No. 22184/2017 dated 29.08.2017 and in the matter of Shobha Vijender vs. Chief Information Commissioner W.P. (C) No. 8289/2016 and CM 34297/2016 dated 29.11.2017.

Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties, the Commission observed that no further intervention was required in the matter. However, in respect of Appeal No CIC/LICOI/A/2018/138377-BJ, the Respondent was directed to give an affidavit to the effect that the answer sheet sought by the Appellant in his own case was not available with them within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of this order. In other cases, since the matter was stated to be subjudice, no intervention of the Commission was required at present. The Respondent was instructed to comply with the directions of the Superior Courts in letter and spirit. For redressal of his grievance, however, the Appellant is advised to approach an appropriate forum.

11 CIC/IRADA/A/2017/183749-BJ
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22 Apr, 2019 Mr. Shankar Pujhari Vs. CPIO, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Parisrama Bhavanam, 3rd Floor Basnecr Bagh, Hyderabad – 500004

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 03 points regarding the steps taken against Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Limited, copies of the documents related thereto, list of staff in the Respondent Public Authority including the name, address, designation, mobile number along with the details of the PIO/ FAA etc.

Decision

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.”

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.
12 CIC/DOREV/A/2017/167036-BJ
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08 Jan, 2019 Ms. Usha Chakraborty Vs. CPIO, Assistant Commissioner, Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue, Shillong

Information requested
The Appellant vide her RTI application sought information on 07 points regarding the pay scale, the last pay drawn/pay on retirement, pay band and grade pay of her deceased husband at the time of his retirement, increments in retiring Scale/Grade, date of birth of family pensioner as per their office record etc.

The CPIO, vide its letter dated 21.07.2017 stated that the information could not be furnished due to inadequate information provided in the RTI application about the deceased husband viz his designation, date of retirement & last place of posting/station of retirement. Dissatisfied by the response, the Appellant approached the FAA. The FAA, vide its order dated 03.08.2017 transferred the Appeal under Section 6(3) of the RTI Act, 2005, to the CPIO and Assistant Commissioner CGST/Customs (P) Division, Agartala for necessary action, as the last posting of Appellant’s deceased husband was Agartala. Subsequently, the CPIO and Assistant Commissioner of Customs Division, Agartala vide its reply dated 07.09.2017 stated that the information solicited was not available with them as per service book of her deceased husband. However, they attached a copy of the service book page where pension calculation was done by PAO on 15.03.1995.

Decision
Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties, the Commission directs, the Commissioner, Customs, Shillong to re-examine the matter and furnish information in respect of the deceased husband of the 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 Appeal stands disposed with the above direction.
13 CIC/DOFPD/C/2017/194444/SD
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07 Jan, 2019 Lakhinder Singh Vs. CPIO, Directorate of Sugar and Vegetable Oil, Department of Food and Public Distribution, New Delhi

Information requested
The Complainant sought copy of order issued for recovery of amount drawn illegally by Mr. J.C.Gonsalvez and Mr. S.K.Srivastava, copy of order for recovery of amount illegally availed by Mr. Rajesh Kumar, MTS in Directorate of Sugar and Vegetable oil for availing LTC and copy of order for recovery of illegal HBA advance availed by Mr. Chhatar Singh, MTS in Directorate of Sugar and Vegetable oil.

CPIO submitted that appropriate reply was sent to the Complainant on 23.09.2016 which was returned undelivered citing reason of non-availability of any such person.

Decision
Commission upholds the reply provided vide letter dated 23.09.2016 and observes from the facts on record that the Complainant could perhaps be a fictitious person as both the CPIO reply as well as Commission’s notice of hearing has come back undelivered with similar remarks.

In view of the foregoing, the Complaint is dismissed.
14 CIC/DEXSW/A/2017/185758/SD
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19 Dec, 2018 Nirmal Singh Dhiman Vs. CPIO, Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, Sena Bhawan, New Delhi- 110011.

Information Sought
The Appellant sought copy of office noting on his representations dated 05.06.2017 and 14.08.2017 addressed to Sanjay Mitra, Defence Secretary.

Decision
Commission observes from the perusal of facts on record that no information has been sought at para iii (b) of the RTI Application as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act as the query is speculative in nature.

Commission takes into account the insistence of the Appellant that he has relevant proof of delivery of the two letters mentioned at paras iii (a) and iii (c) of the RTI Application. In view of this, CPIO is directed to make fresh efforts to trace the letters under reference as well as corresponding noting(s) and provide the same to the Appellant. The said information will be provided free of cost and a
compliance report to this effect shall be duly sent to the Commission.

In the event, the averred letters and corresponding noting(s) remain untraceable, Commission directs the CPIO to file an appropriate affidavit to this effect stating the efforts made in tracing out the information and the factum of non-receipt of letters and unavailability of file noting(s). The said affidavit should be sent to the Commission with its copy duly endorsed to the Appellant.

The aforesaid directions should be complied within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
15 CIC/DGEAT/A/2018/117567
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02 Nov, 2018 Sandeep Singh Jadoun Vs. PIO, DGEAT

Information sought
The appellant sought information about willful defaulters of bank loans ofRs 50 crore and above, with or without guarantees, the names ofguarantors, details of sanction of loans, default and details of NPAaccounts etc.

The appellant wanted also to know the cost and investment of the projectsfor employment generating schemes initiated by the Central Governmentbetween 2005 and 2018 along with the list of failed projects and projectswhich only existed on paper and were never introduced on the floor, withwhich the Ministry of Labour and Employment MoLE is concerned.

Decision
The Commission finds no merit in hiding the names of, detailsand action against willful defaulters of big bad loans worthhundreds of crores of rupees. The RBI shall disclose the bad debtdetails of defaulters worth more than 1000 crore at the beginning,of Rs 500 crore or less at later stage within five days and collectsuch information from the banks in due course to update theirvoluntary disclosures from time to time as a practice under Section4(1)(b) of RTI Act. Appeal is posted on 16th November 2018 forcompliance and penal proceedings.
Total Case uploaded: 166