Documents pertaining to the case of molestation that took place in Habibullah Hall, NDA - CIC: Records do not indicate any deliberate denial or concealment of information on the part of the PIO; no action under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act
The complainant has sought copies of the following documents pertaining to the case of molestation that took place in Habibullah Hall, NDA on 24th December, 2017:
1. Written statement of victim Aastha Sharma.
2. Written statement of the accused.
3. Reports of officers during Court of Inquiry.
4. Copy of FIR filed under POCSO Act.
5. Final reports of the case.
Grounds for Complaint
The CPIO did not provide any information.
Submissions made by Complainant and Respondent during Hearing:
The complainant was aggrieved on account of non-receipt of information by the CPIO. By way of instant complaint, she requested the Commission to take necessary action against the CPIO as per the provisions of the RTI Act. She submitted that she has not received any communication from the CPIO till date.
The CPIO submitted that a point-wise response along with supporting documents was provided vide letter dated 29.12.2021. On being questioned about the mode of communication, the CPIO stated that the letter dated 29.12.2021 was sent through registered post to the complainant. A written submission reiterating the same has been received from the CPIO vide letter dated 12.12.2022 and taken on the record of the Commission. On being questioned if the copy of the aforesaid submission was sent to the complainant, the CPIO replied in the negative.
From a perusal of the case records, the Commission noted that a point-wise reply as per the provisions of RTI Act was provided by the CPIO vide letter dated 29.12.2021. However, as per the submissions made by the complainant, the Commission noted that she did not receive the copy of CPIO letter dated 29.12.2021 nor the written submissions dated 12.12.2022. Therefore, the Commission directed the CPIO to send a copy of aforementioned letters to the complainant on her email address firstname.lastname@example.org and by post to her residential address.
Apropos to the contents of complaint, the Commission observed that the instant matter was filed under Section 18 of the RTI Act where the Commission was only required to ascertain if the information has been denied with a malafide intent or due to an unreasonable cause. Since records of the case do not indicate any such deliberate denial or concealment of information on the part of the CPIO, the Commission concluded that there was no cause of action which would necessitate action under the provisions of the Section 20(1) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees: Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him: Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. of the RTI Act.
In view of the above, the CPIO is directed to send the copy of the aforementioned letters with necessary enclosures to the complainant within 7 days from the receipt of the order of the Commission. No further action is warranted.
The complaint is disposed of accordingly.
Vanaja N. Sarna
Citation: Ms. Aastha Sharma v. Department of Military Affairs, IHQ of MoD (Army), National Defence Academy (NDA) Khadakwasala, File no.: - CIC/ARMHQ/C/2021/660649, Date of Decision: 15/12/2022