Appellant challenged denial of information by DGCEI u/s 8(1)(h) claiming that the investigation has already been concluded - PIO: the investigation pertaining to the evasion of central excise duty is still going on - CIC: Denial of information upheld
1. Vide RTI application dated 18.08.2014, the Appellant sought information on the 4 issues.
2. CPIO, vide its response dated 15.10.2014, (as per Second Appeal) has denied to provided the information u/s 8 (1) (h). (not on record)
3. The First Appeal (FA) was filed on 29.10.2014, as the desired information was not provided.
4. First Appellate Authority (FAA), on 03.12.2014, upheld the decision of CPIO.
5. Grounds for the Second Appeal filed on 15.12.2014 are contained in the Memorandum of Appeal.
Appellant as well as respondent appeared before the Commission personally and made the submissions at length.
1. It would be seen here that the appellant, vide his RTI Application dated 18.08.2014, sought information from the respondents on four issues. Respondents, vide their response dated 15.10.2014, allegedly denied the required information to the appellant on all four issues. Being aggrieved by the aforesaid response, FA was filed by the appellant on 29.10.2014 before the FAA, who vide his order dated 03.12.2014, upheld the decision of CPIO. Hence, a Second Appeal before this Commission.
2. It is pertinent to mention here that the CPIO, vide his response dated 15.10.2014, denied the required information to the appellant by taking a plea under section 8(1) (h) of the RTI Act 2005. Further, learned FAA, vide his order dated 03.12.2014, disposed of the FA by upholding the views of CPIO.
3. During hearing of the appeal, it is submitted by Shri Anil Sood, Learned Advocate, on behalf of appellant, that the plea taken by respondents under section 8(1) (h) of the RTI Act 2005, is not legally tenable, at all, since the so called investigation has already been concluded and thus, it is over. Therefore, the appellant is now legally entitled for getting the required information on his RTI application dated 18.08.2014. However, it is rebutted by Shri Ramesh Kumar Ojha, Senior Intelligence Officer, by stating that the investigation, under reference, is not yet over, simply because the investigation pertains to (i) seizure of particular items and (ii) evasion of central excise duty. It is further submitted by him that the investigation pertaining to seizure of particular items has been concluded and show cause has been issued on 09.08.2014 under Rule 25 of the Central Excise Rules 2002. However, the investigation pertaining to the evasion of central excise duty is still going on.
4. On this, the Commission again posed a query to Shri Ramesh Kumar Ojha, as to when the investigation of evasion of central excise duty would be over. On this, he expressed his inability to respond the query posed by Commission. However, he again retreats his earlier version i.e. the investigation pertaining to the evasion of central excise duty is still going on.
5. The Commission heard the submissions made by appellant as well as respondents at length. The Commission also perused the case-file thoroughly; specifically, nature of issues raised by the appellant in his RTI application dated 18.08.2014, respondent’s response dated 15.10.2014, FAA’s order dated 03.12.2014, other material made available during hearing of the case and also the grounds of memorandum of second appeal.
6. In view of the position above and in the circumstances of the case, the Commission is of the considered view that the plea taken by CPIO under section 8(1) (h) of the RTI Act 2005 appears to be justified in the eyes of Law, as far as it relates to the investigation pertaining to the evasion of central excise duty. As such, there is no legal flaw either in CPIO’s response or FAA’s order. Therefore, the CPIO’s response dated 15.10.2014 and FAA’s order dated 03.12.2014 are hereby upheld being legally tenable, subject to rider above.
7. However, the plea taken by respondents, in respect of investigation pertaining to seizure of particular items, is not legally tenable. Therefore, it is quashed and set aside. Thus the respondents are hereby directed to provide the required information to the appellant, if any, in this regard. In view of the above, the appellant’s second appeal is disposed of accordingly. The Appeal is disposed of accordingly.
(M.A. Khan Yusufi)
Citation: Shri Satyanarayan S Shah v. M/o Finance, DGCEI in File No. CIC/KY/A/2014/001400