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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/LICOI/A/2018/133523-BJ+
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27 Nov, 2019 Mr. Onkar Ram Vs. CPIO, Manager (CRM), Life Insurance Corporation of India, Allahabad

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information regarding his Annual Confidentiality Report (ACR) for the year 2017 (details not legible, contents taken from the CPIO reply).

Decision
Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi vide order dated 7/10/2013 in W.P. (C) 4079/2013 Union Public Service Commission vs. G S Sandhu wherein while observing that denial of notings altogether was not justified directed to block the name, designation or any other indication which disclose or tend to disclose the identity of author, it was held as under:

“11. In my view, the apprehension of the petitioner that if the identity of the author of the file notings is revealed by his name, designation or in any other manner, there is a possibility of such an employee being targeted, harassed and even intimidated by the persons against whom an adverse noting is recorded by him on the file of UPSC, is fully justified. Though, ultimately it is for the members of the UPSC who are to accept or reject such notings, this can hardly be disputed that the notings do play a vital role in the advice which UPSC ultimately renders to the concerned department. Therefore, the person against whom an adverse advice is given may hold the employee of UPSC recording a note adverse to him on the file, responsible for an adverse advice given by UPSC against him and may, therefore, harass and sometime even harm such an employee/officer of UPSC, directly or indirectly. To this extent, the officers of UPSC need to be protected.

Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the decision of KVS v. CIC and Anr. W.P.(C) 6892/2009 dated 15.09.2009 while upholding the decision of the Commission had held as under:

“The only objection raised by the petitioner against the supply of statement of witnesses was under Section 8(1)(g) of the Right to Information Act, 2005. The said provision stipulates that information disclosure of which would endanger life and physical safety of any person or identity, the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement and security purposes need not be supplied. The Information Commissioner keeping in mind Section 8(1)(g) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 has directed that the name of the witnesses need not be disclosed to the respondent No.2.

2 CIC/DTCOR/A/2018/114317
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15 Nov, 2019 Shri Mahabir Singh Pahal Vs. PIO/Dy. Chief General Manager (Tr.) DTC, Scindia House, New Delhi

Information Sought
The Appellant filed RTI application dated 25.10.2017 seeking information on 4 points;
1. Whether the management DTC had sought/applied for exemption from Central Government/State Government, who has power to grant exemption from applicability of the statute of the P.G. Act-1972. Provide certified copy for the same.
2. Whether the management DTC had taken exemption from the Central Government (M/o Labour & Employment, New Delhi) State Government from applicability of the statute under section 5 of the payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 from making payment to its employees/any employees or class of employees employed under the management of DTC provide certified copy of the exemption.
3. If the management DTC has already granted exemption from applicability of statute of PG Act 1972, for the class of employees to cover under CCS (pension rules 1972) if so, provide the certified copy of the proposal submitted by DTC to the appropriate Govt. of India, M/o Labour & Employment.
4. Whether the management DTC is enable to formulate & enforce its own gratuity scheme in exercise of its statutory power, provide certified copy of statutory power.

Decision
After hearing the submissions of both the parties, the Commission hereby directs the PIO/ Sh.R.B.L. Srivatava, HQ, S.C. house, DTC to either make efforts to obtain the information sought by the Appellant in the RTI application and provide the same to the Appellant, under intimation to the Commission or file a duly sworn affidavit before the Commission explaining the factual position regarding the missing/untraceable records and the action taken to restore them, with a copy marked to the Appellant. The above directions shall be complied with within 3 weeks from the date of issue of this order. It is made clear that non-compliance of the stipulated timeline shall attract penal action against the concerned PIO.

Commission notes that the First Appeal of the Appellant was not adjudicated by the FAA. This reflects poorly on the state of affairs in the Respondent public authority with regard to handling of the RTI application. A warning is thus issued to the Respondent public authority to be careful in adherence to the provisions of the RTI Act.

3 CIC/DDATY/A/2018/127726-BJ
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15 Nov, 2019 Mr. Vinod Singhla Vs. CPIO PIO & Asst. Director, Delhi Development Authority, INA New Delhi – 110023

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 04 points in respect of Flat Number C-1, 164, details of payment plan for the said flat along with dates for the payment of installments; the date on which the possession of the said flat would be granted; number of properties for which the possession of flats had been transferred, etc.

Decision
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 the submissions made by both the parties and in the light of the admission of the Respondent for its utter neglect, casual and callous disregard to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, the Commission directs Mr. Rajesh Kumar, Pr. Commissioner (Housing), DDA, to depute an officer of an appropriate seniority to investigate and to fix responsibility and accountability on the concerned official within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of this order. A copy of the action taken in the matter should be reported to the Appellant with a copy to the Commission for its perusal.

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.

4 Information Sought The issues under consideration arising out of the second appeal dated 12.02.2018 include non-receipt of the following information raised by the appellant through his RTI application dated 24.11.2017 and first appeal dated 11.12.2017:-
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14 Nov, 2019 Kamalakanta Malik Vs. CPIO, Department of School Education and Literacy, Shastri Bhawan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi

Information Sought
The appellant has sought the following information:
1. Whether the certificate issued by government unrecognised private elementary school throughout India is valid or not.
2. Whether such students are eligible or not to get admission in Govt./Govt. recognised private elementary secondary school.
3. If such students are eligible to get admission in Govt./Govt. recognised private elementary secondary school, then what is the necessity of issuing Govt. recognition to private elementary school.
4. And other related information.

Decision
From a perusal of the relevant case records, it is noted that till date no final reply has been provided to the appellant. The CPIO present during the hearing was also not aware what had happened after the transfer of the RTI application to the CBSE. Moreover, the appellant was also not present to submit anything in this regard.

The Commission expresses its displeasure at the conduct of the CPIO for coming unprepared before the Commission regarding the facts of the case which not only wastes the time of the Commission but of the public authority also.

Based on the above observations, the present CPIO is directed to provide the relevant information to the appellant after seeking assistance u/s 5(4) of the RTI Act from the holders of the information. This direction is to be complied

5 CIC/SDMCS/A/2018/113971
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11 Nov, 2019 Shri Shivraj Saini Vs. PIO/Deputy Director (Horticulture), SDMC, Park, Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi

Information Sought
Appellant filed RTI application dated 10.08.2017 seeking information on the following 4 points;
1. Monthly salary being paid to unskilled Gardener appointed on compensatory ground by Horticulture Department, SDMC? How many times salary has been hiked from 2009. Provide details.
2. Monthly salary being paid to semiskilled Gardener appointed on compensatory ground by Horticulture Department, SDMC? How many times salary has been hiked from 2009. Provide details.
3. Number of Gardeners appointed by Horticulture Department as skilled employed, by SDMC on compensatory ground.
4. Number of Gardeners who are being paid the salary of unskilled Gardeners by Horticulture Department, SDMC?

Decision
Upon perusal of the records of the case, the Commission is satisfied that information as available has already been provided by the Respondent. No further action is deemed necessary in this case. The appeals are thus disposed off.

6 CIC/BPCLD/A/2018/122699-BJ
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04 Nov, 2019 Ms. Jyoti Bajaj Vs. CPIO Dy. General Manager, Complaint Redressal LPG – HQ & CPIO, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. Mumbai

Information Sought
The Appellant vide her RTI application sought information regarding the rule/ law which authorized the Sr. Manager LPG, LPG HQ Sales to give personal opinion against Gobind Sales, Punjab.

The CPIO, vide its letter dated 30.01.2018 stated that the query seeking logic/ reason was beyond the purview of Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act, 2005. Moreover, the matter between hotplate vendor and stockist was between two parties and BPCL had no role in it. Dissatisfied by the response, the Appellant approached the FAA. The FAA, vide its order dated 16.03.2018 concurred with the response of the CPIO.

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.”

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.
7 CIC/CBSED/A/2018/122717/01733
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25 Sep, 2019 Akansha Aggarwal Vs. PIO/ Asst. Secretary (A&L), Central Board of Secondary Education Regional Office, Dehradun, 99, Kaulagarh road, Dehradun

Information Sought
The appellant has sought the photocopy of answer sheet, subject code no.- 041(Mathematics) and subject code - 055(Accountancy) of her intermediate examination held in the year 2017.

Decision
The appellant submitted that she was deprived of her own answer sheet. On a query by the Commission she submitted that she received the reply dated 01.07.2017 asking for photocopying charges of Rs 160/-. Accordingly she paid the same on 04.07.2017. To her utter surprise she was told by the CPIO thereafter to submit an undertaking stating that she would not raise any objection regarding the evaluation done by the evaluators. She further submitted that this was a gross violation of the RTI Act by the respondents. On a query by the Commission, the CPIO submitted that as per their manual they take undertakings of this kind to prevent misuse of the information.

Based on a perusal of the record, it is noted that the CPIO grossly erred in asking the appellant to submit an undertaking. The APIO during the hearing apparently advocated the procedure of taking undertaking from students on the pretext of preventing misuse. She is advised to read the RTI Act and refrain from providing such a misleading reply.

The CPIO is issued a strict warning to be careful while providing reply under the Act and refrain from providing misleading replies which may attract penal action u/s 20(1) and (2) of the RTI Act. The CPIO is accordingly directed to provide the copies of the answer sheet to the appellant within 7 days from the date of receipt of the order, under intimation to the Commission.

8 CIC/CCITJ/A/2017/605334-BJ
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19 Sep, 2019 Capt. Nayan Das Adhikary Vs. CPIO & ITO, Ward – 7(1), Office of the Income Tax Officer, Janpath, Lalkothi Scheme, Jaipur

Information Sought
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 02 points regarding the Net Taxable Income of Smt. Manju Bala Sharma W/o Narendra Kumar Sharma for the period mentioned in the RTI application along with the details of marriage expenditure declared by Smt. Manju Bala for A.Y. 2009-10 under Section 69 of IT Act, 1961, etc.

The CPIO, vide its letter dated 14.08.2017, denied disclosure of information being Third Party information under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005. Dissatisfied by the response, the Appellant approached the FAA. The FAA, vide its order dated 18.09.2017, upheld the CPIO’s
response.

Decision
The Commission therefore referred to the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & ors. SLP(C) No. 27734 of 2012 dated 03/10/2012 wherein it was held as under:

14. The details disclosed by a person in his income tax returns are “personal information” which stand exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, unless involves a larger public interest and the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.”

In this context, the decision of the Commission in Milap Choraria v. CBDT CIC/AT/A/2008/000628 dated 15.06.2009 can be cited wherein it had been held as under:

“15. From the above discussion, it would appear that the Income Tax Returns have been rightly held to be ‘personal information’ exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of section 8(1) of RTI Act by the CPIO and the Appellate Authority; and the appellant herein has not been able to establish that a larger public interest would be served by disclosure of this information.”

The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the decision of Naresh Kumar Trehan v. Rakesh Kumar Gupta in W.P.(C) 85/2010 & CM Nos.156/2010 & 5560/2011 dated 24.11.2014 had observed as under:

“25. Indisputably, Section 8(1)(j) of the Act would be applicable to the information pertaining to Dr Naresh Trehan (petitioner in W.P.(C) 88/2010) and the information contained in the income tax returns would be personal information under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act. However, the CIC directed disclosure of information of Dr Trehan also by concluding that income tax returns and information provided for assessment was in relation to a "public activity." In my view, this is wholly erroneous and unmerited. The act of filing returns with the department cannot be construed as public activity. The expression "public activity" would mean activities of a public nature and not necessarily act done in compliance of a statute. The expression "public activity" would denote activity done for the public and/or in some manner available for participation by public or some section of public. There is no public activity involved in filing a return or an individual pursuing his assessment with the income tax authorities. In this view, the information relating to individual assessee could not be disclosed. Unless, the CIC held that the same was justified "in the larger public interest".
The Hon’ble High Court of Bombay in the decision of Shailesh Gandhi v. CIC and Ors WP 8753 of 2013 dated 06.05.2015 had held as under:

“16......the said contention is thoroughly misconceived as filing of Income Tax Returns can by no stretch of imagination be said to be a public activity, but is an obligation which a citizen owes to the State viz. to pay his taxes and since the said information is held by the Income Tax Department in a fiduciary capacity, the same
cannot be directed to be revealed unless the prerequisites for the same are satisfied.

23...........Since the right to privacy has been recognised as a fundamental right to which a citizen is entitled to, therefore unless the conditions mentioned in Section 8 (1) (j) is satisfied, the information cannot be provided.”

Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Gujarat in the matter of Vinubhai Haribhai Patel (Malavia) v. Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, Special Civil Application No. 7187 of 2014 dated 16.07.2015 had held as under:

5. Now, turning to the facts of the present case, it is evident that the kind and nature of the information demanded by the petitioner clearly falls within the expression "personal information". The personal character of the information demanded in the nature of Income-tax Returns of the private parties to get disclosure about the payment of tax by them which was again in order to know about their status as agriculturists declared to be so by the authorities in the legal proceedings, could be indeed said to be personal. It was in the background of litigation between the petitioner and the said private persons relating to their property rights wherein the Will in favour of private parties was disputed and the disputes of civil nature were being agitated before the forum concerned and the court. This information being personal in nature, could not be claimed as a matter of right by the petitioner, rather they were clearly exempted information under Section 8(1)(j). The contention of larger public interest justifying the disclosure does not exist. In disclosing the said information asked for by the petitioner relating to the private parties, there was no element of public interest to be sub-served. The information was personal information relating to third parties. The attendant facts and circumstances and the litigation between the petitioner and those parties, instead indicated that the information was personal information which was asked for by the etitioner for his own personal interest and private purpose. Respondent No. 3-Central Information Commissioner was eminently justified in taking a view that there was no public interest present in the information claimed to be supplied, rightly denying the same by dismissing the appeal.

The Appellant was not present to contest the submissions of the Respondent or to establish the larger public interest in disclosure which outweighs the harm to the protected interests.

Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by the Respondent and in the light of aforesaid judgments, no further intervention of the Commission is required in the matter.

9 CIC/PGCIL/A/2018/143735
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19 Sep, 2019 K S Jain Vs. The CPIO, Power Grid, Corporation of India Limited, New Delhi

Information Sought
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL), New Delhi, seeking information on three points regarding the delay in payment to his MSME unit including interalia (i) the background document which made the PGCIL to treat the despatch as transition phase and held payment of MSME unit for months together, (ii) the documents which made PGCIL to release the same after few months as per the provisions of pre-GST regime, and (iii) name of concerned official who decided to hold the payment and who decided to release the payment.

Decision
The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that the information sought by the appellant has not been provided to him. The Commission, therefore, directs the respondent to provide information as per the provisions of the RTI Act to the appellant and in case no such information is available, then the respondent shall file an affidavit with the Commission with a copy to the appellant, deposing that no records relating to the information sought for are available with respondent, and hence, no information can be provided to the appellant. 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.

10 CIC/DEPED/A/2018/106227/DIRED
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17 Sep, 2019 Shri Ram Kumar Sisodiya Vs. PIO/DDE (HQ), RTI Cell, Old Secretariat, Civil Line, Delhi 110054

Information Sought:
The Appellant filed RTI application for seeking information on 2 points;
1. Tender/Contract No. for construction of additional class rooms in GBSS (Dakka).
2. Provide inspection of tenders passed by Education Department for above work and all documents related to the tender process.

Decision:
Commission observes that the First Appeal was not adjudicated. More than 1 year has elapsed since the RTI application of the Appellant has been transferred to the Respondent No. 1 for appropriate action. Moreover, Appellant expresses his grievance over the irrelevant files being offered for inspection. In the light of the foregoing, direction is issued to the PIO/ Sh. D.A. Dewan, E.E. to provide assistance and inspection of complete records pertaining to the specified three schools, to the Appellant on 26.09.2019 at 11.00 am. Upon identification of relevant documents by the Appellant, copies of documents upto 50 pages shall to be provided to him, free of cost. Compliance report shall be submitted by the Respondent before the Commission by 07.10.2019. It is made clear that non-compliance of these directions shall attract penal action by the Commission. The appeal stands disposed off accordingly, with the above directions.
11 CIC/CWCND/A/2018/141816/01648
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17 Sep, 2019 Ajeet Kumar Singh Vs. Director & CPIO Central Water Commission

Information Sought:
The appellant has sought details of action taken and present status of the committee constituted to make the Ganga free from siltation from Patna to Farakka.

Decision:
In view of the above, the CPIO is directed to provide a revised reply enclosing a copy of the report to the Appellant within 10 days from the date of receipt of this order. A compliance report to this effect shall be sent to the Commission by the CPIO thereafter.

12 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.

13 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.

14 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.


15 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.

Total Case uploaded: 177