Appellant sought information related to M/s JSW Steel Ltd - PIO: The data is spread over 4600 pages - CIC: Appellant may avail opportunity of inspection offered - CIC: Provide hyper-links of the website where the information can be located
Appellant sought information related to M/s JSW Steel Ltd for the last 28 years - PIO: The data is spread over 4600 pages - CIC: Providing hard copies will tantamount to diverting the meagre resources of the Public Authority; Appellant may avail opportunity of inspection offered - CIC: Provide hyper-links of the website where the information can be located
The appellant has sought the certified true copies of documents related to 4MPTA, 7MPTA, 10MPTA and 16MPTA of M/s JSW Steel Ltd. located near village Tornagallu, District Bellary in Karnataka for the year 1990 to 2018:
1. Project proposal reports
2. Consent for establishment and CFEExp Reports
3. Public hearing/public consultation meeting reports and public hearing videos.
4. Expert appraisal committee (Industry) reports and site visit reports of EAC (I)
5. All environmental clearances and EC Amendments reports.
Grounds for Second Appeal
The CPIO did not provide the desired information.
Submissions made by Appellant and Respondent during Hearing:
The appellant submitted that he is not satisfied with the reply of the CPIO as the desired information is not available on the web portal provided by the CPIO and the information sought by him related to the year 1990 onwards when the web portal was not available and hence the CPIO may be directed to provide hard copies of the information sought by him.
The CPIO explained that whatever record is available with them regarding the information sought by the appellant is already available on their website. The data desired by the appellant is very cumbersome and spread over 4600 pages and they will not be able to provide such voluminous information to the appellant. However, he can be provided an opportunity to inspect the documents if he so desires.
Having heard the submissions of both the parties, it is noted that the appellant had sought information related to 4MPTA, 7MPTA, 10MPTA and 16MPTA of M/s JSW Steel Ltd for the last 28 years and as per the submissions of the CPIO the data is spread over approximately 4600 pages. Under such circumstances, the Commission does not find it appropriate to direct the CPIO to provide hard copies of the information as it will tantamount to diverting the meagre resources of the Public Authority thereby impacting the normal functioning of its activities.
In this regard, the Commission relies on the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Central Board of Secondary Education and Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors, SLP(C) NO. 7526/2009 wherein it was held as under:
"Indiscriminate and impractical demands or directions under RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information (unrelated to transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities and eradication of corruption) would be counterproductive as it will adversely affect the efficiency of the administration and result in the executive getting bogged down with the non-productive work of collecting and furnishing information. The Act should not be allowed to be misused or abused, to become a tool to obstruct the national development and integration, or to destroy the peace, tranquility and harmony among its citizens. Nor should it be converted into a tool of oppression or intimidation of honest officials striving to do their duty. The nation does not want a scenario where 75% of the staff of public authorities spends 75% of their time in collecting and furnishing information to applicants instead of discharging their regular duties. The threat of penalties under the RTI Act and the pressure of the authorities under the RTI Act should not lead to employees of public authorities prioritising 'information furnishing' at the cost of their normal and regular duties."
However, since the CPIO is willing to allow inspection of the relevant documents to the appellant, the appellant may avail of such opportunity if he still wants the information. Further, the CPIO, rather than directing the appellant to a general website, should provide hyper-links to the appellant where the information can be located.
Based on the above observations, the CPIO is directed to offer inspection of the relevant records to the appellant at a mutually convenient date and time, within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order. The appellant is directed to avail of the said offer within a period of 45 days from the date of receipt of the letter of inspection from the respondent authority, failing which no further opportunity will be provided to him.
Further, the CPIO is also directed to provide hyper-links of the website where the information can be located. This direction is to be complied with within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of this order under intimation to the Commission.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Vanaja N. Sarna
Citation: Vijay Kumar G S v. CPIO & Dy. GM (Admn.) Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in Decision no.: CIC/MOENF/A/2018/633522/02671, Date of Decision: 21/01/2020