PIO: Consequent upon reorganization of their earlier Ministry into two Ministries i.e. two different public authorities, disposal of RTI Applications could not take place within the stipulated time frame - CIC took grave exception & issued SCN for penalty
The Appellant filed an RTI application dated 27.05.2022 seeking the following information:
"THE CERTIFIED HARD COPY THE COMPLETE AUDITED REPORT FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR 2019-2020 & 2020-2021 WITH PART A', 'B' & 'C' SUBITTED BY 'The Federation of All Indian Railway Co-operative Societies Banks Ltd.' IN/AT NOMERN RAILWAY, BARODA HOUSE, NEW-DELHI , along with the answer of the following question." from the concerned department.
1) In case the same has not been submitted by the concerned' The Federation of All Indian Railway Co-operative Societies/Banks Ltd.' IN/AT NOTHERN RAIL WAY, BARODA HOUSE, NEW-DELHI" then action taken by the concerned department may be intimated.
NOTE.- KINDLY KEEP THE LATEST KIND ORDER OF Hon'ble CIC vide CIC/DOA&C/A/2020/ 127500, DT:-27-01-2022 ATTENDED BY JITENDER NAGAR, Dy. Commissioner (Coop) & , CPIO.”
Having not received any response from the CPIO, the appellant filed a First Appeal dated 13.07.2022. FAA’s order, if any, is not available on record.
The Appellant filed an RTI application dated 09.07.2022 seeking the following information:
“REF:-R-11017/65/2012-L&M 04-08-2014 OF J. NAGAR DD (CO-OPERATION, ADDRESSED TO CHIRMAN/GENEAL SECRETARY, The Federation of All Indian Railway Co-operative Societies/Banks Ltd.', NZRE/CTC/SY/LTD, NR, BH, ND (COPY ENCL.)
1) Certified copy of the last present postal address with PIN-CODE of the The Federation of All Indian Railway Co-operative Societies/Banks Ltd in case they have not change address mentioned in the above said letter may be supplied.
2) In case the 'The Federation of All Indian Railway Co-operative Societies/Banks Ltd. has shifted their postal address, then the entire correspondence to & fro with the ill-legal, Federation of All Indian Railway Co-operative Societies/Banks Ltd with new Registration letter issued by the M.O.A & F.W. may also be supplied but duly certified.
3) Certified copy of the authorization letter/minutes to the corresponding Chairman/General Secretary of the member T/C’s of railway man also be supplied.
4) Certified copy of the allotment letter of Railway Property, if any occupied/shown as their HQ/H.O also may be supplied.”
Having not received any response from the CPIO, the appellant filed a First Appeal dated 23.08.2022. FAA’s order, if any, is not available on record.
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied, the appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-
Appellant: Not present.
Respondent: Kuldip Singh Ranga, Sr. S.S.O. & Rep. of CPIO present through intravideo conference.
To a query from the Commission regarding status of response to the instant RTI applications, the CPIO tendered his unconditional apology and explained that he took over the charge recently in December, 2022. He further explained that as already intimated in earlier recent hearings with the Commission, consequent upon reorganization of their earlier Ministry into two Ministries i.e. two different public authorities; the disposal of RTI Applications could not take place within the stipulated time frame owing to limited manpower resource as against the volume of work which inter alia, included multiple complaints/ correspondent/s RTI Applications. However, he further added and assured that now the disposal of RTI applications system has been streamlined.
The Commission at the outset takes grave exception to the fact that no replies have been provided to the Appellant within the stipulated time frame as envisaged under the RTI Act; and also no substantial explanation for such delay has been tendered by the present CPIO during hearing. Such casual conduct of the then CPIO causes unwarranted obstruction to the Appellant’s right to information and is in grave violation to the provisions of RTI Act.
In view of the above, the then CPIO (at the time of receipt of instant RTI Application) is hereby directed to file a consolidated written submission in the instant matters detailing the reason for not providing any reply within the time bound manner as per the RTI Act provisions. The said written explanation of the CPIO along with supportive documents, if any, should reach the Commission within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order.
Kuldip Singh Ranga, Rep. of CPIO should ensure service of this order at the current corresponding address of the then CPIO for timely compliance of the directions issued by the Commission.
Notwithstanding the aforesaid, considering the fact that there are no replies on record; therefore, the CPIO is directed to provide a point wise reply coupled with relevant available information against each impugned RTI Application, as per the provisions of RTI Act.
The above said replies should be provided by the CPIO free of cost to the Appellant within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order under due intimation to the Commission.
The appeals are disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Ashwani Kumar v. Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, CIC/MAGRI/A/2022/144032 + CIC/MAGRI/A/2022/148781; Date of Decision: 27/06/2023