Complainant refused to have received the circular - CIC: The delay caused in furnishing the same which was in their custody all along was not justified by the respondent - A penalty of Rs. 5,000/- each imposed on both the then CPIO and the present CPIO
1. The issue under consideration i.e. the reliefs sought by the complainant in the complaint dated 19.07.2020 due to alleged non-supply of information vide RTI application dated 16.06.2020 are as under:-
- Kindly initiate necessary action as per the provisions of the RTI Act
2. Succinctly facts of the case are that the complainant filed an application dated 16.06.2020 under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Punjab National Bank, West Bengal, seeking following information:
- The complainant, SWO – B, PF No. ***788. His overtime claim along with other staffs dated 03.07.2018 was submitted to CO, HRD, Midnapore in hard and soft copy for 21 days from 15.11.2016 to 09.12.2016 and entered in HRMS on 28.06.2018. In March 2020 salary overtime was paid for 15.11.2016. The Bank has informed him through reply to his RTI application no. PNBNK/R/E/20/00594 that in case of payment of overtime from dated 16.11.2016 to 09.12.2016 not paid, as Branch Head first requested on 30.08.2016 and then cancel on 06.09.2018.
Hence the complainant had requested to provide following information:-
(i) Certified copy of overtime claim dated 03.07.2018 along with office order for the period from 15.11.2016 to 09.12.2016.
(ii) Certified copy of letter of Deputy Circle Head to all branch heads of Midnapore circle dated 27.06.2018 regarding payment of overtime to workmen staff for demonetization period.
(iii) Certified copy of HRMS entry dated 28.06.2018 for overtime claim for the period from 15.11.2018 to 09.12.2018.
(iv) Certified copy of cancellation remark and mail of Branch Manager for overtime from 16.11.2016 to 09.12.2016.
(v) Provide with bank circulars/bps clause/dfs guidelines allowing Branch Manager to cancel his overtime claim.
(vi) Provide wit BPS terms/bank circular/DFS guidelines for payment of wages and overtime to award staff.
(vii) Provide with Bank circular/DFS guidelines/BPS terms for OT claim settlement procedure.
The CPIO vide letter dated 06.07.2020 replied to the complainant.
Aggrieved by the same, the complainant filed complaint dated 19.07.2020 before the Commission which is under consideration.
3. The complainant has filed the instant complaint dated 19.07.2020 inter alia on the grounds that reply given by the CPIO was not satisfactory. The complainant requested the Commission to take necessary action as per Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act.
4. The CPIO replied vide letter dated 06.07.2020 provided following information:-
(i) “Certified copy of your overtime claim dated 03.07.2018 along with office order dated for period 15.11.2016 to 09.12.2016 is not available.
(ii) As regards certified copy of Deputy Circle Head to all Branch Heads of Midnapore Circle dated 27.06.2018 regarding payment of overtime to workmen staff for demonetization period is concerned, we would like to inform that no such letter exists and thus no question of providing such copy arises.
(iii) As regards certified copy of HRMS entry dated 28.06.2018 for overtime claim period from 15.11.2016 is concerned, since you are already a serving employee of our Bank, the same can be generated at your Branch level and provided by your Branch Head as the circle has now been bifurcated.
(iv) As regards certified copy of cancellation remarks and mail of Branch Manager for overtime from 16.11.2018 to 09.12.2018 is concerned, we would like to inform that no such overtime is pending for the above mentioned period.
(v) As regards Bank Circulars/BPS clause/DFS guidelines as sought in your query is concerned being a staff, the same can be accessed by you through Bank’s Intranet Portal on Knowledge Centre e – Circulars page.
(vi) As regards BPS terms/ Bank Circulars/DFS guidelines for payment of wages and overtime to award staff is concerned, the same is guided by HRMD Circular 139 of 2013. Being a staff, the same can be accessed by you through Bank’s Intranet Portal on Knowledge Centre e-Circulars page.
(vii) As regards your query on OT claim settlement procedure is concerned, being a staff, the same can be accessed by you through Bank’s Intranet portal on Knowledge Centre e-Circulars page.”
Hearing on 26.07.2022:
4.1. The complainant and on behalf of the respondent Mr. Pratik Kashyap, Chief Manager & CPIO, Punjab National Bank, West Medinipur attended the hearing through video conference.
4.2. The Commission passed the following directions on 08.08.2022:
“6. The Commission after adverting to the facts and circumstances of the case, hearing both the parties and perusal of records, observed that reply given by the respondent was incomplete and perfunctory. The complainant brought out that the copy of letter dated 27.06.2018 sought in point no. (ii) of the RTI application which was denied by the respondent was, in fact, an official document available under the custody of the bank and the respondent had deliberately concealed the same. In view of the above, Shri Pratik Kashyap, present CPIO and the then CPIO (as on 06.07.2020), are show caused as to why penalty under section 20 (1) of the RTI Act may not be imposed upon each of them for not furnishing the requisite information. The present CPIO is given the responsibility to serve a copy of this order upon the then CPIO and secure his written explanations as well as his attendance on the next date of hearing. All written submissions may be uploaded on the Commission’s web portal within 21 days.”
Hearing on 11.10.2022:
5. The complainant and on behalf of the respondent Mr. Pratik Kashyap, CPIO, Punjab National Bank, West Medinipur, present through video conferencing.
5.1. The complainant inter alia submitted that the respondent had not provided him the copy of circular dated 27.06.2018 till date of hearing.
5.2. The respondent Shri Rakesh Kumar Pandey submitted his written explanations vide letter dated 29.09.2022. He explained that CPIO vide letter dated 19.07.2020 had replied to all 7 queries raised in the RTI application and it was a mistake of fact that they had replied that no information existed in respect of point no. (ii) of the RTI application. However, there was no mala fide on his part for non-supply of information. In pursuance to the Commission’s order dated 08.08.2022, they had provided the copy of circular dated 27.06.2018 regarding the payment of overtime to workmen staff for demonetization period.
6. The Commission after adverting to the facts and circumstances of the case, hearing both the parties and perusal of records, observed that the respondent pleaded that they had complied with the Commission’s order dated 08.08.2022. However, the complainant during the hearing refused to have received the circular. Moreover, the delay caused in furnishing the same which was in their custody all along was not justified by the respondent. Besides, in absence of the written explanations of the present CPIO, there appears to be lapse on the part of the CPIO. The non-response to the show cause notices also reveal the respondent’s non-serious and lackadaisical approach towards the provisions of the RTI Act as well as towards the Commission. There cannot be a bona fide in not providing the requisite information for over a period of two years. In view of the mala fide on part of both the CPIOs, the Commission finds it a fit case for imposition of penalty under provisions of section 20 (1) of RTI Act.
6.1. The Commission notes that the negligence of duty as designated CPIOs appears to be deliberate and mala fide is established on part of both Shri Rakesh Kumar Pandey, the then CPIO and Shri Pratik Kashyap, present CPIO, hence, both are found liable as per section 20 (1) of RTI Act. In view of this, a penalty of Rs. 5,000/- each (Rupees Five Thousand only) may be imposed on both (i.e. total of Rs. 10,000/- ) and Rs. 5,000/- shall be deducted from each of their salaries of Shri Rakesh Kumar Pandey, the then CPIO and Shri Pratik Kashyap, present CPIO, by the Public Authority and paid by way of demand draft drawn in favour of "PAO, CAT", New Delhi, forward the demand drafts addressed to the Deputy Registrar (CR-II), email: firstname.lastname@example.org Room No. 106, First Floor, Central Information Commission, Baba Gangnath Marg, Munirka, New Delhi 110067. The instalment of penalty amount should reach to the Commission by 01.12.2022. Accordingly, the complaint is closed.
Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Vargab Mallik v. Punjab National Bank, Complaint No. CIC/PNBNK/C/2020/679290, 01.11.2022