Action taken on the special report of Delhi Lokayuktha indicting political executives for using public money for self glorifying advertisement in loan application forms was sought - CIC: Frame a policy on providing photo publicity at the public exchequer
1 The appellant is present. The Public Authority is represented by Mr. Achal Kumar & Mr. N.V. Reddy.
2. Appellant by RTI application on 14.10.2013 sought to know about action taken on the special report of Delhi Lokayuktha indicting political executives such as former Chief Minister of Delhi, Smt Sheila Dixit and former Minister, Shri Rajkumar Chouhan for using public money for self glorifying advertisement in loan application forms. He was also seeking certified copies of reports of Lokayuktha against them.
3. This Commission by order dated 14102014 in second appeal heard on 10102014, directed the PIO to furnish information on point Nos. 5 and 8 to 12 of the RTI application to the appellant within three weeks. The appellant had complained about the non-compliance on 26122014.
4. The Commission on 16.1.2015 gave following directions:
“20. The Commission, therefore, directs the respondent PIO to furnish the information as sought by the appellant including about points 8, 9, 10 and 12 within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission. If needed, PIO may procure information from the concerned higher officer of public authority.
21. Simultaneously the Commission directs the Union of India which now governs the Union Territory of Delhi, to disclose its policy on recommendations of Prof Madhava Menon Committee and Lokayuktha of Delhi regarding usage of photos of political leaders on various kinds of advertisements issued by state at the cost of tax payer’s money, in the best interests of democracy and proper representation to the people before they exercise their franchise.
22. As pointed out by the appellant that the political leaders complaining against the photo publicity of the earlier Chief Minister of Delhi before Lokayuktha are now being part of the government, the Commission finds need of the people’s right to know the policy on political publicity at their cost.
23. Therefore, Commission require the Chief Secretary of Delhi and Union Cabinet Secretary to disclose their policy on this issue under Section 4 of Right to Information Act and also inform the appellants about their proposed steps to implement recommendation of Lokayuktha of Delhi in effectively preventing photo publicity of the political rulers.
24. Commission fixed the next date of hearing for ensuring compliance of the direction on 20.2.2015 at 2:30 PM.
25. Copy of this order also be marked along with RTI request to Chief Secretary of Delhi and Secretary of the Union Government.
26. As the disclosure of information involves policy decision to be taken by the higher authorities in the Government, it is not just and proper to penalize the PIO for nondisclosure of policy, who does not have any role in decision making process and in view of the observations of Delhi Lokayuktha not to issue advise/recommendation to the lower level officers, the Commission finds no ground for imposing penalty on PIO and thus the penalty proceedings are dropped. “
5. The appellant submitted that a heavy bundle of papers was provided to him by the respondent public authority. Appellant noticed that such a file had a mention of communication from President’s Secretariat and BJP leader Mr. V.K Malhotra, but those papers were not there. The appellant complained that the file was thus incomplete and sought certified copies of the those sheets containing communication from President’s Secretariat and Mr. Malhotra. The Commission direct the respondent to provide the same to the appellant within 20 days from the date of receipt of the order. The compliance of same shall be reported on 21st April 2015 at 2.30 pm.
6. The Union Government through its representative furnished the document disclosing the policy on photo publicity of politicians, as developed by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting under the title “New Advertisement Policy2007”. But the Commission found that such policy does not mention anything about the content of advertisement, which means there are no policy guidelines regarding the inclusion of photos of politicians in the content of advertisements issued by the Government. However, the representative of the Government of India, Mr. Reddy stated that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was defending this matter before Supreme Court in WP© no 13/2003 and 197/2004 filed by Common cause and Center for PIL. The officer also stated that the hearing was completed and honble Supreme Court reserved it’s judgment, which would clear the issue on this subject. The Commission found none represented the Government of Delhi to provide information about policy on the photo publicity of the political rulers through advertisement and application forms.
7. The Commission directs the respondent authority to place the order of Commission before the Hon’ble Chief Minister, since the new government has taken over recently for their views. The Commission would like to give an opportunity for the new Government to frame policy on providing photo publicity at the public exchequer to the political rulers by publishing their big colourful photos in newspapers and on application forms, etc. The Commission directs the CPIO of the Chief Minister’s Officer to place this order before the Chief Minister, collect the information about their policy and furnish the compliance report to the Commission on 21.4.2015 at 2:30 pm.
8. Present appeal is disposed of with above observations.
(M. Sridhar Acharyulu)
Citation: Sh.Subhash Chandra Agrawal v. Department for the Welfare of SC/ST/OBC, GNCTD in File No.CIC/SA/A/2014/000155