Appellant objected to the FAA having described his RTI applications as serving his personal interest - CIC referred to Sec 6 (2) which stipulates that an applicant shall not be required to give any reason; FAA not to make such unsubstantiated observations
The appeals on Files No. 1818 and 3150 concern the RTI applications dated 2.4.2014 and 21.8.2014, filed by the Appellant to the Regional Office of the bank at Gole Market, New Delhi. The information sought in both these applications was the same i.e. information on five points, for the period 1.4.2011 to 31.3.2014, regarding the number of cases in all large corporate and mid corporate branches where a fresh loan (“corporate loan” or term loan) was sanctioned to accounts which were irregular between 61 to 90 days time at the time of sanction and some related issues. The CPIO stated, in both the cases, in response to all the queries that collection and supply of the information sought by the Appellant was not possible as it would disproportionately divert the resources of the bank, “as provided under Section 7 (9) of the Right to Information Act 2005.” In his orders in both the cases, the FAA upheld the decision of the CPIO and stated, inter alia, that it was not clear whether the Appellant was seeking information of the entire bank or a particular region.
2. The Appellant questioned the decision of the Respondents to deny the information under Section 7 (9) of the RTI Act and stated that information cannot be denied simply on the ground that it is voluminous. He also referred to the Commission’s decision No. CIC/MP/A/2014/001572 dated 19.6.2015, in which Punjab National Bank was directed to provide the same information sought by the Appellant. The Respondents stated that they do not have compiled information in response to the queries raised by the Appellant.
3. We have considered the records and the submissions made by both the parties. Since the RTI application was filed to the Gole Market Regional Office of the bank, we see no ground for the doubt expressed by the FAA in his orders regarding whether the information sought was for the entire bank or a particular region. It should have been clear to the bank that the information sought was regarding the region under the Gole Market Regional Office. Further, from point No. 1 of the RTI application, it is also clear that the information sought was in respect of the large corporate and mid corporate branches within the above region. In view of the foregoing, we do not agree with the submission of the Respondents that collection of the information would disproportionately divert their resources. Accordingly, the CPIO is directed to provide the information sought by the Appellant in his RTI applications dated 2.4.2014 and 21.8.2014, free of charge, within thirty days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission.
4. The Appellant also drew our attention to the fact that in his order dated 14.7.2014, the FAA referred to the Appellant’s RTI applications and stated, inter alia, “The applications often contain several points seeking large number of information and the office of CPIO often finding it difficult to attend the applications from one person as compiling and collating large number of information is a time consuming process and it also diverts the resources of the Public Authority to serve the personal interest of one applicant. Hence the appeal is devoid of merit and not tenable”.(sic). He objected to the FAA having described his RTI applications as serving his personal interest and stated that he has no personal interest in the matter. In the above context, we draw the attention of the Respondents to Sections 6 (2) of the RTI Act, which stipulates that an applicant making a request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him. Further, we are of the view that the FAA’s unsubstantiated conclusion regarding the RTI applications of the Appellant serving his personal interest was unwarranted and avoidable. We would advise the FAA to refrain from making such unsubstantiated observations in future.
5. The appeal on File No. 3149 is regarding the RTI application dated 20.8.2014 filed by the Appellant seeking information on eight points regarding the suo moto disclosure by the bank of information concerning RTI applications and first appeals received by them, details of the transparency officer, residential addresses of officers occupying official accommodation, list of officers along with details of salary of each officer and some other issues. The Appellant stated that he was not satisfied with the response of the Respondents, with the exception of point No. 2 of the RTI application. We note that in response to point No. 1, seeking information regarding suo moto disclosure of RTI applications / first appeals received, the CPIO informed him that there was no such weblink, thereby making it clear that the suo moto disclosure was not being made. Therefore, the query of the RTI application stands answered. We would, however, direct the Respondents to ensure compliance with the guidelines on suo moto disclosure, under Section 4 of the RTI Act, inter alia, of the RTI applications and appeals received and their responses, circulated by the DOPT vide their O. M. No. 1/6/2011IR dated 15.4.2013. We also direct the CPIO to provide the information sought at point No. 3 regarding the officers who are occupying official accommodation. With regard to point no. 4, the Appellant stated that the Respondents have drawn his attention to their website, stating that the information concerning the salary of their officers is available on the same. However, it is not available on the website. In view of the foregoing, the CPIO is directed to provide the above information in a hard copy. The CPIO is further directed to respond to the specific queries at points No. 5, 7 and 8 of the RTI application and provide the information available on records. At point No. 6, the Appellant sought information regarding the complaints filed against the officers of the Respondents during the last five years and action taken on the same. In the above context, we note the following observations made by the Supreme Court in its judgment dated 3.10.2012 in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande Vs. Central Information Commissioner & Ors. :
“13. We are in agreement with the CIC and the courts below that the details called for by the petitioner i.e. copies of all memos issued to the third respondent, show cause notices and orders of censure/punishment etc. are qualified to be personal information as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. The performance of an employee/officer in an organization is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression "personal information", the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest. On the other hand, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual. Of course, in a given case, if the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, appropriate orders could be passed but the petitioner cannot claim those details as a matter of right.”
No larger public interest has been established by the Appellant for disclosure of the information sought at point No. 6. Therefore, it cannot be provided.
6. The CPIO should comply with our directives in the preceding paragraphs within thirty days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission. The information should be provided free of charge.
7. With the above directions and observations, the three appeals are disposed of.
8. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Harinder Dhingra v. Union Bank of India in File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001818 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/003150 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/003149