Answer sheet denied claiming that the Insurance Institute of India is not a public authority - Appellant: PIO failed to alert the Institute not to destroy the answer sheet till the final disposal of the case - CIC: PIO to be heard before penal decision
Answer sheet denied on the ground that the Insurance Institute of India is not a public authority – Appellant: the PIO failed to take action to alert the Institute not to destroy the answer sheet till the final disposal of the case - CIC: disclosure of answer sheet of the appellant would have helped him in learning about his weaknesses and building on his strengths thereby allowing him to gain from this experience at the time of his next promotion opportunity; PIO to appear for hearing for imposing penalty
1. Further to Commission’s notice of even number dated 6 June 2013, vide which show cause was issued to the CPIO for not having provided information to the appellant within the timeframe prescribed under the RTI Act even though the information sought was required to be disclosed in the light of Supreme Court decision in the matter of CBSE versus Aditya Bandhopadhyay and others dated 9 August 2011, matter was heard today via videoconferencing. Both parties as above appeared in person at Chennai and made submissions.
2. It was submitted by the appellant that not only should the requested information (made vide RTI application dated 20 October 2011) have been furnished to the appellant within 30 days of receipt of the said application, the CPIO also failed to take action to alert the Insurance Institute of India not to destroy the answer sheet of the appellant until the final disposal of the case. It was also stated that at the hearing held by the Commission on 28 December 2012 at which the CPIO and the representative of the Insurance Institute of India were present, at no stage was it pleaded that the information could not be provided as it had already been destroyed after maintaining it for the mandatory period of three months from the date of the examination which was held on 7 August 2011, even as the Commission directed that the requested information must be provided to the appellant within four weeks of receipt of the order. It was only after several reminders from the appellant that the CPIO informed the appellant vide letter dated 26 February 2013 that information sought by him had in fact been destroyed. Appellant pleaded that he had been put to great mental stress and anguish on account of this poor handling of this case and denial of information which pertained to an examination for moving from clerical cadre to class I cadre.
3. Respondent stated that vide communication dated 29 October 2011 from the Insurance Institute of India addressed to the General Manager, Chennai office it was communicated that they are not a public authority. Former CPIO also stated that the RTI application dated 20 October 2011 was forwarded to the Chief Manager, Head Office, New Delhi on 21 October 2011 as they were the holder of information and reminder was sent by the former CPIO Shri C J Joseph to the Chief Manager on 10 November 2011. The Chief Manager Ms Meenakshi Talwar informed the CPIO vide letter dated 20 December 2011 that information was denied on the ground that the Insurance Institute of India is not a public authority. Consequently, the CPIO conveyed this decision to the appellant vide letter dated 27 December 2011 after a reminder was sent to her by the CPIO on 10 November 2011. First appellate authority is also informed the Head Office on 12 December 2011 regarding the pendency of the case after a reminder was sent to her by the CPIO on 10 November 2011, FAA also informed the HO on 12December 2011 regarding pendency of the case.
4. After hearing both parties Commission notes that the former CPIO Shri CJ Joseph and the Chief Manager Ms Meenakshi Talwar had erred in denying information that was disclosable to the appellant under the RTI Act. Certainly the appellant has been put to great disadvantage by the denial of this information which was critical for advancement in his career. Disclosure of answer sheet of the appellant would have helped him in learning about his weaknesses and building on his strengths thereby allowing him to gain from this experience at the time of his next promotion opportunity. This opportunity was snatched away from him causing him detriment and putting him at a disadvantage. Also, the appellant and the Commission were misled regarding the true facts of the status of the information while the respondents and the Insurance Institute of India carried out a charde. The Commission draws the attention of the respondents to CIC order no. CIC/DS/A/2010/000623 in which it is made amply clear that it is the responsibility of the public authority to access and provide information from the private agency to information seekers in all cases where the public authority has outsourced its core activity to such private agency.
5. Before taking a decision in respect of the show cause notice, Commission offers opportunity of hearing to the then Chief Manager, Head Office Ms Meenakshi Talwar and she is directed to appear before the Commission on 13.11.2013 at 4.00 PM AT NIC State Informatics Centre, E2A, Rajaji Bhawan, 1st Floor, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600090 (Tamil Nadu), Contact Officer: Mr. Iniya Nehru, Scientist F and Ms. Anandhi , Scientist C and Contact Nos: 04424917850 / 24902580 / 24466495 / 24902580. Shri C.J. Joseph will also appear. In case the officer(s) fail to appear, Commission will be free to take ex parte decision in the matter.
(Smt. Deepak Sandhu)
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Shri S.V. Srinivasa Rakhavan v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., in Adjunct to Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2012/002132