In a Complaint filed u/s 18 of the RTI Act, CIC is only required to ascertain if the information has been denied with a malafide intent or due to an unreasonable cause; Section 18 and 19 serve two different purposes; One cannot be a substitute for other
Information sought and background of the case:
The Complainant filed an RTI application dated 15.03.2022 seeking information on following points:-
“We had filed a complaint against Medanta regarding the treatment of patients who avail CPRSME scheme. Although you can find an acknowledgement attached about investigation of this case back in February 2021, there has been no action or response by the Medanta authorities. Please provide an update on this.”
The PIO vide email dated 25.03.2022 replied with the Appellant. The relevant extracts are as under:
“The hospital has been asked to send feedback and clear their stand on the matter, apparently the person to whom the mails were initially sent by Mr Vikas Goel has left Medanta, the matter has now been followed up again, hope a clarification shall be received soon. Copies of correspondence with the hospital shared in the availab le email address.”
Dissatisfied with the response received from the CPIO, the Complainant filed a First Appeal vide his email dated 20.08.2022. The FAA vide order dated 28.09.2022 disposed of the First Appeal by stating that no further disclosure is required.
Aggrieved and dissatisfied, the Complainant approached the Commission with the instant Complaint.
A written submission has been received from CPIO and Chief Manager P/R Coal India Limited, Kolkata vide letter dated 12.01.2024 wherein the replies available on record were reiterated.
Facts emerging in Course of Hearing:
Respondent: Shri C Gupta, CPIO and CM (P/R)
The Appellant remained absent during the hearing despite prior intimation.
Shri C Gupta stated that the Complaint referred in the RTI application was forwarded to Medanta Hospital and several attempts were made thereafter to seek an update from the hospital. However, no reply was forthcoming. The factual position was also apprised to the Appellant in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005.
Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by the Respondent, the Commission is of the view that an appropriate response as per the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 has been provided within the stipulated time period.
In a Complaint filed u/s 18 of the RTI Act, 2005 the Commission is only required to ascertain if the information has been denied with a malafide intent or due to an unreasonable cause. Furthermore, the legal position with regard to the powers of the Commission u/s 18 is no longer res integra since the pronouncement of the judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Chief Information Commissioner and Ors. v. State of Manipur and Ors, CIVIL APPEAL NOs.10787-10788 OF 2011 (Arising out of S.L.P(C) No.32768-32769/2010) decided on 12.12.2011 wherein it was held that Section 18 and 19 serve two different purposes and one cannot be a substitute for another.
In the light of the above observations, the Commission is of the view that there is no malafide denial of information on the part of the concerned CPIO and hence no action is warranted under section 18 and 20 of the Act. Therefore, no further intervention of the Commission is required in the instant Complaint which is dismissed accordingly.
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Shri Vishesh Vatsal v. Coal India Limited, Complaint No. CIC/CILTD/C/2022/667691; Date of Decision: 19.01.2024