CIC: PIO has adopted very casual approach in disposing RTI applications - CIC: PIO has already been issued warning & penalized in various matters; His conduct should be brought to the notice of his controlling officer for appropriate administrative action
O R D E R
1. The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Department of Economic Affairs, New Delhi. The appellant seeking information on three points pertaining to FAA & Director Shri Manmohan Sachdeva wherein he has claimed that the first appeal reg no. DOEAF/A/2019/60022 Dtd 17.02.19 is not found attached during scrutiny vide letter no. 11/03/2018-SPMC Dtd 15.4.19 hence not disposed., including, interalia:-
(i) Name and designation of the official who conducted scrutiny;
(ii) Date on which FAA Shri Manmohan Sachdeva observed about the missing attachment of first appeal; and
(iii) Copy of print from the portal proving first appeal as an attachment is found to be missing from attachment page.
2. As the CPIO had not provided the requested information, the appellant filed the first appeal dated 23.05.2019 requesting that the information should be provided to him. The first appellate authority was ordered on 09.07.2019 and disposed of his first appeal. He filed a second appeal u/Section 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 before the Commission on the ground that information has not been provided to him and requested the Commission to direct the respondent to provide complete and correct information.
3. The appellant, Mr. Varun Krishna attended the hearing through audio conferencing. The then CPIO, Shri Dalip Singh attended the hearing through video-conferencing. The present CPIO was not present due to her ill-health
4. The appellant submitted that complete and correct information has not been provided to him by the respondent on his RTI application dated 23.04.2019 within stipulated period of time as per the provisions of the RTI Act. The appellant further contended that the FAA had also not disposed of his first appeal within stipulated period of time as per the provisions of the RTI Act. The appellant contended that the respondent with malafide intention has obstructed the information under the RTI Act. The appellant further submitted that the FAA has also not given any direction to the CPIO to provide the information but instead upheld the reply of the CPIO which is arbitrary. The appellant stated that as to how that FAA has given judgment in his own case wherein the information was sought is related to him. Therefore, an appropriate legal action should be initiated against the then CPIO u/Section 20 of the RTI Act, 2005.
5. The then CPIO was unable to explain the case.
6. The Commission, after hearing the submissions of the appellant and after perusal of records, observed that there is a delay in giving reply to the appellant on his RTI application dated 23.04.2019. Further, the then CPIO in its reply has given vague and misleading information to the appellant, which is highly objectionable. The Commission further observed that the appellant has sought specific information in his RTI application but the then CPIO instead of collecting information from the concerned department has given vague and cyclostyle reply. The respondent CPIO could have sought assistance under Section 5(4) of the RTI Act from the concerned authority/department in order to confirm the status of information as sought in the RTI application.
7. In view of the above, the then CPIO is reprimanded to be more meticulous about his duties as a CPIO and give appropriate replies to the RTI applicant within stipulated period of time as per the provisions of the RTI Act. A reference was drawn to the decision of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the case of J.P Agrawal v. Union of India-2013(287) ELT25(Del.) wherein it was held as under:
7.“it is the PIO to whom the application is submitted and it is who is responsible for ensuring that the information as sought is provided to the applicant within the statutory requirements of the Act. Section 5(4) is simply to strengthen the authority of the PIO within the department; if the PIO finds a default by those from whom he has sought information. The PIO is expected to recommend a remedial action to be taken”. The RTI Act makes the PIO the pivot for enforcing the implementation of the Act.”
8. The Commission further observed that the then CPIO has adopted very casual and callous approach in disposing the RTI applications. He has already been issued warning and penalized by this Commission in various matters. His conduct as CPIO has come under adverse observation of the Commission which should be brought to the notice of his controlling officer for appropriate administrative action. The present CPIO should ensure service a copy of this order to the controlling officer of the then CPIO and also to then CPIO for appropriate action in the matter under intimation to the Commission.
9. The Commission observed that since the reply given by the then CPIO is not satisfactory, therefore, the Commission directs the respondent to re-examine the RTI application dated 23.04.2019 of the appellant and give point-wise reply/information to the appellant, as per the documents available on record, within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of this order.
10. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.
11. Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Neeraj Kumar Gupta
Citation: Mr. Varun Krishna v. Department of Economic Affairs in Second Appeal No. CIC/DOEAF/A/2019/646611, Date of decision: 09.04.2021