Attention of the Commissioner, NDMC drawn to an issue of the larger public interest
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) seeking details regarding the facilities provided by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and State Government to the Group Housing Societies in different Zones of MCD. The appellant specifically sought information regarding any circular, directions or instructions pertaining to facilities such as streetlights, sewage disposal, clean drains and clean roads, maintenance of parks/ plants in the area etc. in respect of Group Housing Societies in Rohini zone. The appellant also asked for copies of circulars/ directions, instructions held by the public authority in respect of payment of ground rent where house tax is also being paid. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed that no information is available with the Public Authority.
During the hearing the before Central Information Commission (CIC), the PIO stated that the information sought by the appellant was not held in material form and therefore could not be furnished to the appellant. The appellant submitted that during the hearing on his first appeal, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) had invited representatives of all the various departments under the MCD who are responsible to provide civic amenities and each of the representative stated that they were not holding any such circular/ instructions pertaining to the providing of the civic amenities in respect of Group Housing Societies. Regarding the instructions on payment of ground rent also the PIO had claimed that information does not exist.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that RTI application clearly brings out the fact that the appellant has touched upon two matters, both of which throw up issues of larger public interest on which, the MCD does not hold any material record/ information. The CIC noted that the queries highlights the poignant situation where members of several Group Housing Societies are paying ground rent to the DDA and house tax to the MCD but do not have the comfort of the knowledge that they are required to be provided with basic civic amenities at par with the other residents of the city who do not live in Group Housing Societies. The Commission held that the RTI application has brought into focus the issue which can well be categorized as being one of larger public interest on which there is no clear government policy/ directions on record. The Commission ruled that the limitations of the powers of the Commission given under the RTI Act, the CIC cannot give directions to provide information that does not exist. The Commission, however, drew the attention of the Commissioner, NDMC to this issue in the larger public interest so that information gap that exists pertaining to this issue can be addressed suitably.
Citation: Mr. P.P. Gupta v. North Delhi Municipal Corporation in Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2013/000527
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1366
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission