CIC: Condonation of delay has been sought by the appellant; the reason given by the appellant that the last reply was given on 20.12.2019 certainly does not account for a delay of over 05 months in filing the Second Appeal; not found satisfactory by CIC
The appellant has sought the following information with reference to his complaint filed on 28/07/2018 against Col. V Siva Sesha Sai of 5685 ASC Battalion and evidence submitted in the compact disc and other annexures to General Bipin Rawat, the then Chief of the Army Staff and to The President. Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA):
a. Opinion, finding and recommendations.
b. Opinion of JAG, Army HQ.
c. Action taken notings initiated by Army HQ
d. Filing notings made in the Army HQ.
e. File notings made in AGs Branch, DV Dte., JAG Branch, COAS Sectt.
f. Directions of the Chief of Army Staff.
a. Opinion, finding and recommendations.
b. Opinion of JAG, Central Command.
c. Action taken notings initiated by HQ Central Command
d. Filing notings made in the Central Command
e. Opinion of Chief of Staff HQ Central Command
f. Opinion of GOC-in-C, Central Command
C to I) – Other related information.
Grounds for filing Second Appeal
The CPIO did not provide the desired information.
Submissions made by Appellant and Respondent during Hearing:
The appellant was not given any opportunity of pleading his case as during the proceedings of his other case, scheduled on the same day, he started reiterating the contents of his written submissions in great detail, however, he was explained that he is at liberty to make submissions which are new and as far as the points raised in his RTI application, the subsequent appeals and the recent submissions are concerned, the Commission already has everything in writing so there is no need to be repetitive. However, without maintaining the decorum of the proceedings and the bench, he started arguing the case in a very indecent and loud manner, all the time interrupting the proceedings and not allowing the Commissioner to speak. Clearly, his grievance cannot be sorted out by the Commission or through the RTI route as this is purely an administrative matter of the organisation. It is pertinent to mention here that the mandate of the Commission was to ensure that he received an appropriate reply to his RTI application. Therefore, the Commission was constrained to disconnect the VC and decide the case on merits.
The appellant in his second appeal memo had stated that the desired information has not been provided to him till date. The CPIO submitted that appropriate replies were given to the appellant on 16/04/2019, 09/07/2019, 06/08/2019 &10/08/2019.
From a perusal of the relevant case records, it is noted that the main issue for determination in the present case is the issue of delay of more than 09 months in filing the Second appeal. It is noted that the FAA vide his order dated 13.06.2019 had directed the CPIO to transfer points (b), (c) & (d) to the concerned authority and for points (a), (e), (h), the CPIO was directed to obtain the information from the concerned holders and provide the same to the appellant. In compliance with the order of the FAA, points (c), (d) & (f) were transferred to the HQ UB Area on 25.06.2019 and thereafter a final reply was given on 10.08.2019.
Point (b) was transferred to Central Command on 25.06.2019. Thereafter on 03.09.2019, a final reply was given on this point.
Information on point (e ) was given on 09.07.2019 and on points (a) & (h), the desired information was given on 06.08.2019. After perusing the said replies, it is observed that within 03 months from the date of passing of the FAA order, a final reply on all the points as referred to by the FAA was given. The Commission does not find sufficient reason as to why the appellant took more than 05 months to file his second appeal. If he was not satisfied with the replies given to him, he should have filed his second appeal within the stipulated time of 90 days from the date of receipt of various replies as laid down in Sec 19(3) A second appeal against the decision under sub-section (1) shall lie within ninety days from the date on which the decision should have been made or was actually received, with the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission: Provided that the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of ninety days if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time. of the RTI Act and the last reply of which was given on 03.09.2019. Though condonation of delay has been sought by the appellant, the reason given by the appellant regarding the delay caused by the respondent authority stating that the last reply was given on 20.12.2019 certainly does not account for a delay of over 05 months in filing the Second Appeal, more so, when technically the reply dated 20.12.2019 was a mere repetition of the reply dated 03.09.2019. This delay in filing the second appeal is way beyond the laid down time line under the RTI Act and as per the proviso, no satisfactory explanation was given for filing the Second Appeal so late.
In view of the above, the Second Appeal is considered as time barred and accordingly dismissed.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Vanaja N. Sarna
Citation: Nitin Pratap Singh v. Central Public Information Officer, RTI Cell, ADG MT(AE), G 6, D-1 Wing, Sena Bhawan; Headquarters, Uttar Bharat Area; HQ Central Command; HQ Northern Command in File No. CIC/IARMY/A/2020/115812, Date of Decision: 01/11/2021