CIC took grave exception to the fact that no reply was provided to the RTI Application within the stipulated time frame of the RTI Act by PIO; FAA’s direction to provide a reply remained unheeded - CIC: Show-cause for action u/s 20 of the RTI Act issued
Information sought and background of the case:
The Appellant filed an online RTI application dated 26.11.2018 seeking information on three points:
1. Is state government has right to increase the validity period of TET certificate from more than 7 years as per NCTE norms TET certificate is valid for only 7 years.
2. Is there any provision of B.com / B.Ed candidates for appointment as a social science teacher?
3. Is there any provision of B.com, B.Ed candidates for appearing in TET examination?
Having not received any response from the CPIO, the appellant filed a First Appeal dated 01.01.2019. FAA’s order dated 12.04.2019 directed the CPIO, (Regulation) NCTE to furnish the appropriate reply to the applicant within 7 days from the date of this letter.
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied over the non-compliance of FAA’s order, appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-
Appellant: Present through audio conference.
Respondent: Ravindra Singh, Under Secretary & PIO present through intra-video conference.
The Appellant stated that he has not received the desired information from the PIO.
The PIO submitted that adequate clarification with respect to the queries raised in the RTI Application has been provided to the Appellant vide an email sent on 25.01.2021 and a subsequent letter sent prior to the hearing dated 23.03.2021. He further tendered his unconditional regret and submitted that even though his predecessor R C Chopra could not reply to the RTI Application at the relevant time, after taking due note of the various strictures issued by this bench since January 2021 in similar cases, he took stock of all the pending online RTI Applications and has disposed of the same expeditiously. He furthermore urged that after assuming the charge of the PIO in March, 2020 he although disposed of the pending RTI Application received in physical form but the cognizance of the pending online RTI Applications was taken only after the Commission adjudicated on such cases in January, 2021. He insisted that delay, if any, on his part may be condoned for the said reasons and also on account of the administrative inconveniences faced by him after the COVID-19 induced Lockdown situation in the immediate aftermath of him assuming the charge of the PIO.
The Commission based on a perusal of the facts on record finds no scope of action in the matter with respect to the information that has been sought for in the RTI Application as well as the reply of the PIO provided thereon as the queries raised by the Appellant do not conform to Section 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, 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; of the RTI Act. The Appellant has sought for clarifications and deductions to be provided, yet the PIO has informed about the relevant regulations to the Appellant.
Nonetheless, the Commission takes grave exception to the fact that no reply was provided to the instant RTI Application within the stipulated time frame of the RTI Act by R C Chopra, the then PIO. Even further, as it appears from the records, the FAA’s direction issued to the next incumbent, P K Yadav to provide a reply to the instant RTI Application also remains unheeded till date. The said omission of R C Chopra, then PIO (Regulation), NCTE & P.K Yadav, then PIO (Regulation), NCTE amounts to causing unwarranted obstruction to the Appellant’s right to information and is a gross violation of the provisions of the RTI Act.
R C Chopra & P. K Yadav, the then PIO(s) are hereby directed through the present CPIO to show-cause as to why action should not be initiated against them under Section 20 of the RTI Act. The written submissions of R C Chopra & P. K Yadav, then PIO(s), respectively, along with supporting documents, if any, should reach the Commission within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order.
The present CPIO should ensure service of this order to both R C Chopra & P. K Yadav, then PIO(s) under due intimation to the Commission for timely compliance of the above directions.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Alok Kumar v. National Council for Teacher Education in File No: CIC/NCTED/A/2019/643757, Date of Decision: 31/03/2021