Information regarding appellant’s resignation & withdrawal at IIT - Appellant: Providing inspection for 40 min defeats its purpose - PIO regretted demanding excessive fee; 200 pages provided free of cost - CIC: Provide inspection & info free upto 50 pages
Information regarding appellant’s resignation and its withdrawal at IIT - Appellant: Providing inspection for 40 minutes defeats the very purpose - PIO tendered his unconditional regret for demanding excessive photocopying charges by the then PIO; Complete information running into 200 pages was provided free of cost - CIC: Provide inspection and information free of cost upto 50 pages
The Appellant filed an RTI application dated 22.07.2019 seeking information regarding his resignation and its withdrawal, including inter-alia;
“Provide the photocopy of Action Taken along with the office noting of PIO’s office about his following applications:-
(a) Appellant’s resignation dated 14.11.2017
(b) Appellant’s request dated 07.06.2019 for withdrawal of resignation.
(c) Appellant’s reminder dated 02.07.2019.”
The CPIO furnished a para wise reply to the appellant on 23.08.2019 and stated as follows:-
a. “Photocopy can be provided by remitting an amount of Rs. 5/- being cost of photocopy.
b & c. Photocopy can be provided by remitting an amount of Rs. 15/- being cost of photocopy.”
Being dissatisfied, the appellant filed a First Appeal dated 27.08.2019. FAA’s order dated 27.09.2019 stated as follows:-
Para a:- “You can inspect the documents in the office of the Deputy Registrar (Estb) in the institute on 14th October 2019 at 03:00 PM.
Paras b & c:- Total no. of pages of the documents asked by you is 05 and cost of photocopy charged by IIT Roper is Rs. 5/- per page. Cost of photocopy has been intimated as per the rates approved by the competent authority.”
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied, appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal on the following grounds –
1) denial of attested photocopies of documents u/s. 2(j)(ii) despite list provided on 22.10.2019;
2) voice and video recordings as also involvement of security guards during inspection resultantly disrupting the privacy of Appellant; and
3) In addition, providing time based inspection which is only for 40 minutes defeating the very purpose of opportunity of inspection being offered to him.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-
Appellant: Present through audio-conference.
Respondent: Lagvish Kumar Singh, Joint Registrar and CPIO present through audio- conference.
The Appellant stated that while visiting the office of IIT, Ropar for inspection on 14.10.2019 due assistance was not provided to him by the CPIO. He further reiterated the grounds of his Second Appeal as mentioned in preceding paras and also contested the fact that despite payment of IPO worth Rs. 90/-, photocopy of desired information was not furnished to him. He added that even the copy of DFAs was also not given to him, regarding which he made a representation to the CPIO on 22.10.2019, however no reply along with material information was received by him from the CPIO till date.
Per contra the CPIO submitted that inspection opportunity was duly availed by the Appellant on 14.10.2019 with due assistance from the deemed PIO. He further submitted that considering dissatisfaction of Appellant two more opportunities of inspection were granted to the Appellant thereafter, however he did not turn up to avail the same. Furthermore, while rebutting the contentions of the Appellant, he contended that no averred IPO was ever received from the Appellant. Per contra the CPIO submitted that inspection opportunity was duly availed by the Appellant on 14.10.2019 with due assistance from the deemed PIO. He further submitted that considering dissatisfaction of Appellant two more opportunities of inspection were granted to the Appellant thereafter, however he did not turn up to avail the same. Furthermore, while rebutting the contentions of the Appellant, he contended that no averred IPO was ever received from the Appellant.
In addition, the CPIO tendered his unconditional regret for demanding excessive photocopying charges by the then CPIO in violation of the RTI Rules, 2012 and added that as a measure of rectification of such mistake, in fact, a complete copy of the requisite information running into 200 pages was provided to the Appellant free of cost through speed post on 19.03.2020. Lastly, the CPIO submitted that for any other dissatisfaction of the Appellant with respect to the information provided as far, the Appellant is at liberty to visit the Respondent office again for the inspection of relevant records.
Upon a query from the Commission, the Appellant agreed to avail the opportunity of inspection in the next week of July, 2021.
The Commission based upon a perusal of facts on records and considering the hearing proceedings hereby directs the CPIO to reiterate another opportunity of inspection of the relevant and available records related to the RTI Application to the Appellant on a mutually decided date & time in the next week of July, 2021. The intimation of the date & time of inspection will be provided to the Appellant telephonically and in writing by the CPIO and a copy of the documents, as desired by the Appellant during the inspection will be provided to him free of cost upto 50 pages and beyond this limit, fees may be charged as per Rule 4 of RTI Rules, 2012. A compliance report to this effect be duly sent to the Commission by the CPIO stipulating the details of the information provided and/or inspection provided, if any thereof within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order.
CPIO to provide proper arrangements for availability of relevant documents and ensure facilitation of records during inspection.
Notwithstanding the aforesaid observation and keeping in mind the explanation given by CPIO, the Commission hereby condones the mistake committed by the then CPIO in demanding exorbitant photocopy charges for desired information in violation of the RTI Rules, 2012, however CPIO is advised to exercise due diligence in future and follow due process of RTI Act while replying to RTI Applications.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Inder Preet Singh v. Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar in File No: CIC/IITRP/A/2019/159400, Date of Decision: 07/07/2021