Respondent denied the information without citing any provision for exemption u/s 8 of RTI Act with a lapse of over two years - CIC issued show cause notices to the then PIO & the present PIO, to explain why penalty u/s 20 (1) of RTI Act may not be imposed
O R D E R
1. The issues under consideration arising out of the second appeal dated 28.01.2018 include non-receipt of the following information raised by the appellant through his RTI application dated 22.06.2017 and first appeal dated 02.09.2017:-
(i) Provide a copy of recommendations/ report of Expenditure Management Committee mentioned in the letter.
(ii) Provide a copy of the letter whereby constitution of the said committee was made.
(iii) Whether the said the committee is permanent or temporary in nature.
(iv) If temporary in nature, then tenure of the Committee.
(v) Provide the name of the members with designation and tenure of the members in the Committee.
(vi) Whether all the members of the said committee are permanent Government Employees or working on any contractual basis for the Committee.
(vii) If they or some of them are working on contractual basis, provide a copy of Contract.
(viii) Field of contractual members, they belong.
(ix) Purpose of the said Committee.
(x) Whether the definition of Non-core mentioned in the letter is statuary or not.
(xi) If not, what is the basis of the definition. (xii) If production of a non-core item is closed down, what is plan for alternate use of the production facilities has been set up for that item.
(xiii) Is there any plan to provide any training to employees engaged in manufacturing an item and production of the item is closed down (as mentioned in the letter) and they are engaged to other Items.
2. Succinctly facts of the case are that the appellant filed an application dated 22.06.2017 under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Department of Expenditure, North Block, New Delhi, seeking aforesaid information. The CPIO replied on 07.08.2017. Dissatisfied with the response of the CPIO, the appellant filed first appeal dated 02.09.2017. The First Appellate Authority disposed of the first appeal vide order dated 02.11.2017. Aggrieved by this, the appellant has filed a second appeal dated 28.01.2018 before this Commission which is under consideration.
3. The appellant filed the instant appeal dated 28.01.2018 inter alia on the grounds that respondent denied the information without citing any provision of the RTI Act.
4. The CPIO replied vide letter dated 07.08.2017 that in respect of point no. 1 of the RTI application, the report had not been placed in public domain. In respect of point no. 2 to 9 of the RTI application, CPIO stated that the resolution setting up the Expenditure Management Commission was available at their web page. The RTI application was transferred to Department of Defence Production under section 6 (3) of the RTI Act for point no. 10 to 13 of the RTI application. The FAA upheld the decision taken by the CPIO.
5. The appellant attended the hearing through video conference and on behalf of the respondent Ms. Sathy Madhusoodanan, Under Secretary (EMC) & CPIO and Shri R.D. Talukdar, Deputy Secretary & FAA, Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, New Delhi attended the hearing in person.
5.1. The appellant submitted that the respondent had not provided the requisite information so far. The information as sought in the interest of all outsourced employees of 47 factories who had lost their jobs in pursuance of the circular issued by the respondent. However, the respondent had denied the information relating to the same on the ground that it was for minimum circulation.
5.2. The respondent that Expenditure Management Commission (EMC) was set up on 04.09.2014 in pursuance of Finance Minister’s Budget announcement 2014-15 in Parliament. The Commission submitted its report during the period January 2015 to March 2016 and it was decided with the approval of Hon’ble Finance Minister to go with limited circulation of the EMC report. Therefore, the information was not provided to the appellant.
6. The Commission after adverting to the facts and circumstances of the case, hearing both the parties and perusal of records, feels that the reply given by the respondent is evasive. The respondent has denied to disclose the information but has not cited any provision for exemption under section 8 of RTI Act. There is a lapse of over two years and the respondent has neither provided the information nor has denied the information seeking exemption under provisions of RI Act. In view of the defiance of the provisions of RTI Act, the Registry of this Bench is directed to issue show cause notices to Shri N.S. Chauhan, the then CPIO and Shri Sathy Madhusoodanan, present CPIO, to explain why penalty as per section 20 (1) of RTI Act may not be imposed upon each of them. Meanwhile, the respondent is also directed to provide specific and proper reply/information to the appellant. All written submissions must reach this Commission within 21 days.
Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Mukesh Singh v. CPIO: Department of Expenditure in Second Appeal No. CIC/DOEXP/A/2018/111835, Date of order: 27.11.2019