Information pertaining to D&AR case - Appellant: Model Time Limit prescribed in para 7.47.2 of Vigilance Manual, 2017 for completion of Major Penalty proceedings against government servant - CIC: RTI Act is not the proper law for redressal of grievances
O R D E R
The appellant filed an RTI application on 11.01.2018 seeking information on five points pertaining to D&AR case against appellant bearing no. GM/RE/ALD SF 5 no. E/RE/CON/2/DKS dated 19.10.2015, including, inter-alia;
1) What is the timeline prescribed for disposal of major D&AR case and what is the amenability on DA for non-disposal of D&AR case in prescribed timeline. And what will be the mercy/compassion to CO in case of non-disposal of D&AR case in prescribed timeline despite repeated request by CO for disposal of D&AR case for more than 800 days?
2) To provide chronological proceeding details of the case till date along with noting pages of concerned file since 19.10.2015 of DA, NCR vigilance, railway board vigilance and CVC at first stage & second stage both.
3) With whose permission and by which authority, railway board vigilance had entered his chamber forcefully with RPF on 16.09.2013 treated him like hardcore criminal instead of normal act of searching & frisking, ill treated physically, bolted chamber from inside, removed all cables/wires of intercom, railway and P&T phones, computer, CUG phone, searching all my pockets, briefs case, almirah, drawers of office table etc. continuously for 2 hours, etc.
The CPIO in their reply, vide letter dated 15.02.2018 and 07.03.2018, provided point wise information to the appellant. Being dissatisfied, the appellant filed first appeal dated 22.02.2018. FAA’s order, if any, is not available on record. Hence, this second appeal filed by the appellant before this Commission.
Grounds for Second Appeal:
The appellant has not filed the copy of second appeal and in this regard he addressed a letter no. Dy.CMM/IC/RTI/2018 dated 11.09.2018 stating that the second appeal could not be submitted due to the fact that no reply has been received of first appeal.
Submissions made by Appellant and Respondent during Hearing:
The appellant reiterated the contents of his RTI application and submitted that he was impleaded as an accused in D&AR case no. GM/RE/ALD SF 5 no. E/RE/CON/2/DKS dated 19.10.2015 with respect to which the information was sought by him. He further submitted that despite of the charge sheet being issued in the year 2015, no enquiry was commenced in the said case until 2018. He also referred to the reminder letters sent by him to the concerned divisions with respect to initiation of the enquiry. However, on not receiving any response from the concerned authorities he was compelled to file the instant RTI application. With respect to the information sought vide point no. 1 the appellant submitted that different replies have been furnished by different agencies of the same Railway Department. He apprised the Commission that CPIO/Vigilance, vide letter dated 16.01.2018, stated that the information sought does not pertain to NCR/Vigilance department. Being dissatisfied by the reply, he preferred an appeal dated 07.02.2018 to SDGM/AA/NCR. In its reply, SDGM/AA/NCR, vide letter dated 05.03.2018, informed the appellant that the Model Time Table for disciplinary cases is maximum 380-470 days. Further, a reference was made to Railway Board’s letter no. 2017/V-1/CVC/1/1 dated 03.03.2017. He apprised the Commission that a similar stand was taken by CPIO/Administration/AA/NCR in its reply dated 07.03.2018. However, CPIO-47/Railway Board/Dy. Director Estt. (D&A) in its reply dated 15.02.2018 referred to the model time schedule as laid down in Railway Board’s letter no. E (D&A)90 RG6-18 dated 09.02.90 and stated that the said schedule is not mandatory. Yet again pressing on the different replies received from different CPIO’s, the appellant referred to the reply received from Under Secretary & CPIO/ Central Vigilance Commission wherein it was stated that the Model Time Limit as prescribed in para 7.47.2 of Vigilance Manual, 2017 is 18 months for completion of Major Penalty proceedings against government servants. The appellant further apprised the Commission that although the above stated D&AR case has now reached finality on 20.03.2020 and penalty has been imposed on him, however, due to the irregularities in the Railway Department regarding timely disposal of such cases, severe harassment was caused to the appellant.
The respondent, Smt. Renuka Nair, referred to the reply of Dy. Director Estt. (D&A) dated 15.02.2018 whereby the appellant was informed against point no. 1 that the Model Time Schedule, as sought, has been laid down under Railway Board’s letter no. E(D&A)86 RG6-41 dated 03.04.1986 read with their letter no. E (D&A) 90 RG6-18 dated 09.02.90. However, the time schedule so laid down is not mandatory and is rather recommendatory. With respect to the appellant’s reference to the replies furnished by other CPIOs, the respondent submitted that the appellant contention regarding the application of the rules laid down in 2017 to his D&AR case filed in 2015 is irrelevant. Thus, the rules pertaining to the time schedule, as available on record and as applicable to the appellant’s case, were informed to him vide the above noted letter. She further submitted that in case the appellant has a grievance with respect to delay in disposal of his matter, he may file a representation in that respect with the respondent public authority.
The respondent, Shri R P Joshi, submitted that an appropriate reply, as per the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 was furnished to the appellant on point nos. 2 and 3 vide letter dated 07.03.2018. He further submitted that since, at the time of responding to the RTI application, the above noted D&AR case was pending investigation, the requisite information was denied under Sections 8(1) (e), (g), (h) and (j) of the RTI Act. In order to justify the exemptions so sought, he relied on his written submissions wherein a plethora of judgments were quoted addressing the issue of denial of disclosure of information in similar matters.
In response to a query, the appellant did not contest the reply furnished against point nos. 2 and 3. The written submissions dated 09.07.2020 filed by Joint Director Vigilance (Stores), written submissions dated 08.07.2020 filed by Dy. CVO/T/NCR and written submissions dated 07.07.2020 filed by Dy. Director, Estt. (Discipline & Appeals) were taken on record.
The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that although the appellant admitted that his D&AR case has reached finality and penalty has been issued against him, however, he objected that the time schedule with respect to disposal of such cases was not followed by the respondent thereby causing harassment to the appellant. Further, the stand taken by different CPIOs of the Railway department with respect to the time schedule for disposal of major penalty cases is varied. On a careful analysis of the matter, the Commission notes that the appellant, in the instant matter, had been approaching several CPIOs seeking similar information to which every CPIO furnished information, as available on their records. However, the appellant intended to identify the most appropriate reply which would have been applicable to the Vigilance proceedings then pending in his particular D&AR matter so as to speed up the enquiry. Thus, the appellant, being aggrieved by the time taken in disposal of his D&AR matter, is seeking the redressal of his grievance by virtue of the instant appeal. In this regard, it is pertinent to note that under the provisions of the RTI Act only such information as is available and existing and held by the public authority or is under control of the public authority can be provided. The PIO is not supposed to create information that is not a part of the record. He is also not required to interpret information or provide clarification or furnish replies to hypothetical questions. Similarly, redressal of grievance, reasons for noncompliance of rules/contesting the actions of the respondent public authority are outside the purview of the Act. Further, 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.”
In view of the above, the Commission observes that the RTI Act is not the proper law for redressal of grievances and there are other appropriate fora for resolving such matters. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.
Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties. The appeal, hereby, stands disposed of.
Citation: D K Singla v. Director Vigilance, Railway Board, Central Vigilance Commission and othrs in Second Appeal No. CIC/MORLY/A/2018/157309, Date 09.07.2020