Application for attested copies of answer book of paper etc. was transferred u/s 6(3) of the RTI Act - CIC: Delay occurred due to their non-performance in furnishing the sought for information to the personnel branch; show cause notice issued for penalty
The complainant vide RTI application dated 27.12.2015 sought attested copies of his answer book of paper I and II of the examination held on 16.07.2013, copy of the answer key, details of marks obtained in both the papers, copies of the ACR marks, service record marks and viva voce marks, percentage of marks scored and his merit position in the final list. The CPIO replied on 18.06.2015. The complainant being aggrieved with the non supply of the desired information filed complaint before this Commission u/s 18 of the RTI Act on 21.01.2016.
Grounds for Complaint
The CPIO did not provide the desired information. Interim
Complainant : Absent
Respondent : Shri Naresh Kumar, Senior Personnel Officer cum PIO along with Shri H.K. Sharma, Deputy Chief Electrical Engineer cum PIO, Northern Railway
During the hearing, the respondent PIO submitted that the RTI application dated 27.12.2013 was received in the office of Dy. GM (Law), Northern Railway, HQs. Baroda House on 31.12.2013 and was transferred to the CPIO (personnel), Northern Railway Baroda House. The CPIO, Baroda house submitted that because of certain mismanagement of the concerned files it took some time for them to provide the requisite reply to the complainant and accordingly, the first reply was sent to the complainant on 29.04.2015 by the CPIO (personnel) and Deputy CPO, HQs, northern railway, Baroda house. The second reply was furnished by the Deputy Chief Engineer (Electrical) and CPIO (Electrical) to the complainant vide his letter dated 18.06.2015.
On the basis of the written submissions of both the parties, it was noted by the Commission that another reply was provided on 14.07.15 by then CPIO. Based on the above fact, it is clear the CPIO (Personnel). Even on 29.04.2015, Shri Raman Kumar Sharma, the then CPIO (Personnel), NR Hqrs, Baroda House chose to furnish a partial reply to the said RTI application by informing the PIO, electrical to provide for a copy of the answer sheet to the complainant instead of obtaining the same u/s 5(4) of the RTI Act from the concerned PIO and providing the same with his reply dated 29.04.2015 to the complainant. The CPIO (electrical) provided the requisite reply on 14.06.2015 to the complainant i.e. after a further delay of one month. However, the then CPIO (electrical) who had promptly provided the requisite information to the complainant after being informed about the same by Shri Raman Kumar Sharma, the then CPIO (Personnel), cannot be faulted for this delay.
In regard to the denial of providing a copy of the model answer key to the complainant, the then respondent CPIO (personnel) and Deputy Chief Personnel Officer, NR Hqrs casually mentioned that there was no system of preserving of master answer keys. The CPIO should have mentioned under which rule the said record was weeded out. The reply is cursory and incomplete.
The said denial of the answer key by the then CPIO (Personnel) insinuating that the master key was perhaps available with the electrical department because of the fact that the electrical department was the custodian of the information is not only evasive and negligent but shows a streak of unhelpful attitude on the part of the then CPIO (Personnel) as the CPIO (Personnel) should have obtained a copy of the answer key u/s 5(4) of the RTI Act from the CPIO (electrical) in this case.
In view of the above, a Show Cause Notice is issued to the CPIO, Shri Raman Kumar Sharma, Deputy Chief Personnel Officer, Baroda House u/s 20 of the RTI Act to explain the following issues:-
a. In spite of the receipt of the RTI application from the RTI Cell in time, why no reply, not even an interim one, was provided in one and half years to the complainant;
b. even after an elapse of one and half years why the then CPIO (personnel) chose to provide partial information to the RTI applicant, i.e. points relating to the provisioning of the certified copies of the answer key were not replied to u/s 5(4) of the RTI Act. Moreover, in case the said information was available with the then CPIO (personnel) in the first place, why the said portion of the RTI application was not transferred u/s 6(3) of the RTI Act to the CPIO (electrical) as soon as the said RTI application was received by the CPIO(Personnel);
The explanation to the above stated Show Cause Notice is to be submitted to the Commission by the respondent CPIO/PIO within 15 days of the receipt of this order. The present respondent CPIO is to serve a copy of this order to the then respondent CPIO under intimation to the Commission. On receipt of the explanation to the said Show Cause Notice, further action as deemed appropriate will be taken. The respondent CPIO should note that in the case of non-submission of the explanation within the time stipulated above, the Commission has the liberty to take the required decision ex-parte against the respondent CPIO/PIO. Copies of the order be sent to the concerned parties free of cost.
Interim Order : 22.02.2018
Respondent : Shri Raman Kumar Sharma, Deputy Chief Personnel Officer cum CPIO Shri H.K. Sharma, Deputy Chief Electrical Engineer cum PIO, Northern Railway Shri R.K. Path 5 CPIO/Electrical.
Accordingly the RTI application was transferred u/s 6(3) of the RTI Act to the CPIO/Electrical on 16.01.2014 and the Dy/CPO/Gaz for items pertaining to their Sections. He further submitted that the CPIO/Electrical without going through the content of the said RTI application returned the application on 24.01.2014. Since the issue pertained to the selection of gazetted officers, the Dy CPO/Gaz was asked to furnish the requisite information to the appellant. The Dy GM/Law again through letter dated 05.02.2014 asked Dy CPO/Gaz to furnish the sought for information to the RTI applicant. The first appeal was filed on 07.05.2014 which was received on 21.05.2014 and it was forwarded to the Dy CPO/Gaz for comments. Based on the information received from the gazetted section, requisite reply was furnished to the applicant on 29.04.2015/05.05.2015. The CPIO/Electrical was again asked to provide copies of answer sheets as demanded by the applicant. The CPIO/Electrical even after denying on 16.01.2014 that the relevant information was not pending with them, furnished the requisite copies of the answer sheets to the applicant on 18.06.2015 thereby wasting five months in this process. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) disposed of the appeal through order dated 02.07.2015. In compliance of the FAA’s order dated 02.07.2015, a detailed reply was furnished to the applicant on 14.07.2015 by the CPIO/P and on 31.07.2015 by the CPIO/Electrical.
The complete information had since been furnished to the applicant but the delay in furnishing the requisite information was due to wrong return of the transferred RTI application by the CPIO/Electrical and due to the time taken for collecting details from gazetted section which was the custodian of the relevant records. The delay was unintentional and regretted.
The RTI application was received on 03.01.2014 and it was transferred to the CPIO/Electrical on 16.01.2014. The evaluated answer sheets were in the custody of the Electrical Department and finally on 18.06.2015 the same were provided by CPIO/Electrical. The custodian of the confidential documents was the gazetted section and the Electrical Department and both were asked to furnish the requisite information but the delay occurred due to their nonperformance in furnishing the sought for information to the personnel branch which was regretted and the CPIO tendered unconditional apology for the delay. He requested for condonation of delay. The then CPIO, Shri Raman Kumar Sharma further submitted that the then CPIO/Electrical was Shri Jagram Meena who is at present posted in Hajipur.
The then CPIO, Shri Raman Kumar Sharma is accordingly directed to serve the copy of this order to the then CPIO/Electrical and the then Dy CPO/Gaz and ensure that they are present before the Commission on the next date of hearing with their explanation(s) for the resultant delays of 14 months and 17 months respectively for furnishing the requisite information to the CPIO(P) Shri R.K. Sharma. In addition, the then CPIO (Personnel), Shri Raman Kumar Sharma shall also remain present at the next date of hearing before the CIC.
The next date of hearing is scheduled on 04.04.2018 at 04.45 pm at Room no. 213, Central Information Commission, Baba Gangnath Marg, Munirka, New Delhi-110067. The officers mentioned above may note that in the event of nonappearance of the concerned PIO/CPIO at the hearing, strict action would be taken against them under the relevant provisions of the RTI Act.
The case is adjourned. Copies of the order be sent to the concerned parties free of cost.
Citation: Amarjeet Singh v. Northern Railway in File No.: CIC/BJ/C/2016/000001, Date of hearing: 20.12.2017, 22.02.2018