In reply to SCN for penalty, PIO submitted that the dispatch register was provided in the form maintained by the branch - PIO explained that the appellant had filed around 200 RTI applications with their Gramin bank - CIC dropped the penalty proceedings
O R D E R
1. The issues under consideration is the complaint of non-compliance of CIC’s orders dated 27.04.2018 in the matter.
2. Succinctly facts of the case are that the appellant filed an application dated 01.09.2016 under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Baroda Rajasthan Kshetriya Gramin Bank, Head Office, Ajmer, Rajasthan, seeking certain information. The CPIO replied on 27.09.2016. Dissatisfied with the response of the CPIO, the appellant filed first appeal dated 04.10.2016 and 26.10.2016. The First Appellate Authority disposed of the first appeal vide order dated 21.10.2016 and 18.11.2016. Aggrieved by this, the appellant filed a second appeal dated 27.12.2016 before this Commission which was heard by this Commission on 26.04.2018 and inter alia, the following directions were passed on 27.04.2018:
“6. The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that the CPIO provided a point wise reply to the appellant vide letter dated 27.09.2016. However, correct information has not been provided on point no. 4 of the RTI application. The Commission, therefore, directs the CPIO to provide a copy of the Dak Receipt Register of 08.06.2013 as sought vide point no. 4 of the RTI application to the appellant. The Commission further directs the respondent to file an affidavit with the Commission deposing that the information furnished on point no. 2 of the RTI application vide letter dated 27.09.2016 is as per the available records. A copy of the affidavit shall also be provided to the appellant. The above directions of the Commission shall be complied with, within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.”
3. The appellant has filed the instant non-compliance complaint dated 18.07.2018 inter alia on the grounds that the CPIO has not complied with the directions of the Commission passed on 27.04.2018.
4. The respondent vide letter dated 24.05.2018 filed an affidavit as directed by the Commission.
Hearing on 01.11.2019.
4.1. The appellant and on behalf of the respondent Ramesh Chandra Verma, Chief Manager and CPIO, attended the hearing through video conference.
5.1. The Commission passed the following directions on 27.11.2019:
“The Commission after adverting to facts and circumstances of the case, hearing both parties and perusal of records, feels that the affidavit filed by the respondent in not clear. Besides, the respondent has not provided information sought in point no. 4 of the RTI application which amounts to defiance of the Commission’s order. In view of this, the Commission feels that inspection may be offered by the respondent in the interest of principles of natural justice. Therefore, the respondent is directed that inspection may be facilitated to the appellant on a date convenient to the appellant. The respondent is further directed that certified copies of the documents selected by the appellant during the inspection may be made available to the appellant. Moreover, the Registry of this Bench is directed to issue show cause notice to Shri Kishor Lal, the then CPIO and Shri Ramesh Chand Verma, present CPIO to show cause why penalty as per section 20 (1) of RTI Act may not be imposed upon each of them for obstruction of information. All written submissions must reach this Commission within 21 days.”
Hearing on 27.05.2020:
5. The appellant and on behalf of the respondent, Shri R.C.Verma, CPIO, Baroda Rajasthan Kshetriya Gramin Bank, Ajmer attended the hearing through audio conference.
5.1. The appellant submitted that the respondent had invited him for inspection to Ajmer whereas he resided in Ajmer. The appellant submitted that he could not avail inspection and requested for another date to visit the Ajmer Office.
5.2. The respondent submitted that in compliance of the Commission’s order, they had filed an affidavit deposing that the information in respect of point no. 2 of the RTI application was not available with them. Further, they had invited the appellant for an inspection, however, he did not respond to their communication.
The respondent further submitted that the dispatch register for 21.05.2014 was provided in the form maintained by their branch and they had no intention to hide the details from the appellant. Therefore, the appellant was again requested to visit their Office and inspect the dispatch register and related records for confirmation.
The CPIO explained that they had promptly replied to all RTI application though the appellant had filed around 200 RTI applications with their bank. The CPIO further stated that Shri Kishori Lal was residing in Bangalore and had communicated his apologies for not being able to send his written explanation and consider explanation sent by Shri R.C. Verma to have been submitted on behalf of both the CPIOs. The respondent further explained that they had highest regard for the provisions of the RTI Act and would comply with further instructions of the Commission, if any.
6. The Commission after adverting to the facts and circumstances of the case, hearing both parties and perusal of records, notes that the respondent have complied with the Commission’s order dated 27.11.2019. However, the appellant has not availed the inspection and requested for another date for inspection. Accordingly, the respondent is directed to mutually decide a convenient date for inspection and communicate the same to the appellant. The respondent is also directed to send the inspection report to the Commission within two weeks of completion of the inspection. The explanations submitted by the CPIO are found reasonable and satisfactory. In absence of any mala fide on their part, it would not be appropriate to take action against either of the CPIOs. In view of this, the show cause notice against Shri Kishor Lal, the then CPIO and Shri Ramesh Chand Verma are dropped. Accordingly, the complaint is rejected.
Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Surendra Arya v. CPIO, Baroda Rajasthan Kshetriya Gramin Bank in Second Appeal No. CIC/RUGBK/A/2017/100008, Date: 09.06.2020