Show-cause notice issued to PIO for penalty u/s 20 - CIC issued an advisory that orders/judgments of the CAT, Mumbai should be regularly uploaded on their website so that the citizens do not feel constrained to file RTI Applications to seek their copy
The Complainant filed an RTI application on 18.02.2019 seeking information regarding Ms. Hina P Shah, Advocate was Standing Counsel of Central Government departments for service matters at Mumbai CAT. On checking of the some of the fee bills submitted by her it was found that she had submitted bogus as well as highly inflated fee bills. In this connection it is requested to provide the following information under:
“Copy of complete order sheet in OA No. 287/2014, OA No. 286/2014, OA No. 415/2013, OA No. 538/2015, OA No. 420/2016, OA No. 713/2015, OA No. 203/2009, OA No. 243/2017, DA No. 162/2015 and OA No. 685/2016.”
Having not received any response from the CPIO, the Complainant filed a First Appeal dated 18.04.2019. FAA’s order, if any, is not available on record.
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the non-receipt of information, Complainant approached the Commission with the instant complaint.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-
Complainant: Present through audio conference.
Respondent: Amit Kumar, P.S. & CPIO through audio conference
The CPIO submitted that he has not been able to locate any record suggesting the action taken on the RTI Application by the then CPIO, Margaret Fernandez, presently posted at CAT, Kolkata bench, who has also not responded to his intimations or calls regarding the hearing before the CIC today. He further submitted that he will provide the copies of the order sheets as sought for in the RTI Application to the Complainant.
The Commission observes from a perusal of the facts on record that no reply was provided to the RTI Application within the stipulated time frame of the RTI Act and further submissions of the CPIO during the hearing suggests a rather disdainful conduct of Margaret Fernandez, then CPIO as she has allegedly not even heeded to the requests of her own coordinate with respect to a statutory matter.
Having observed the gross violation of the provisions of the RTI Act in the matter, the Commission directs Margaret Fernandez, the then CPIO through the present CPIO to appear before the bench on 22.04.2021 via video-conferencing (time and venue of hearing will be intimated separately) to show cause as to why maximum penalty should not be imposed on her under Section 20 of the RTI Act. The then CPIO is also directed to send a copy of all supporting documents upon which she chooses to rely upon during the hearing to the Commission at least two days prior to the hearing via email. If any other persons are responsible for the said omission, CPIO shall serve a copy of this order to such other persons and direct their presence before the bench.
Registry attached with this bench is directed to schedule a video conferencing slot and time for the hearing on the aforesaid date and issue the notice of hearing to Margaret Fernandez, the then CPIO through the present CPIO.
The present CPIO is directed to ensure service of this order to Margaret Fernandez, the then CPIO under due intimation to the Commission.
Further, the instant Complaint is being treated as a Second Appeal based on the relief sought for by the Complainant. The Commission now directs the present CPIO to provide the available and specific information as sought for in the instant RTI application to the Complainant, free of cost. The said direction should be complied with by the CPIO within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order under due intimation to the Commission.
Adverting to the facts of the case, the Commission also directs the CPIO to place a copy of this order before their competent authority to take note of the advisory to ensure that orders/judgments of the CAT, Mumbai are regularly uploaded on their website and is periodically updated so that the citizens do not feel constrained to file RTI Applications to even seek copy of orders and judgments.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: T C Gupta v. Central Administrative Tribunal, RTI Cell, File No : CIC/CADMT/C/2019/130141, Date of Decision: 01/04/2021