Calling applicant for inspection of documents which are supposed to be on display board
The appellant sought information regarding yearly budget approved for the Municipal Councilors within Narela Legislative Area, such as amount allocated for different works, amount of the budget cancelled owing to non-use of the budget money of each councilor every year and report of the current year’s budget allocation to different councilors along with the dates on which the allocated budget would be given. The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided some information. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) directed the APIO (deemed PIO) to prepare the point wise reply and furnish it to the appellant.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the respondent claimed that he had asked the appellant to come and inspect the records. Further, after the order of the FAA, the information was sent to the appellant. The appellant pointed out that the information was provided on one page, giving only the amounts spent from the corporator’s funds and that the details of works have not been provided. The Commission observed that the sought information was supposed to be declared suo-motto by Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and that despite the delay, the PIO did not provide the details of the works. The Commission held that the PIO should not summon citizens for inspection where the information is supposed to be put up suo-motto on their boards.
Under section 19(8)(b) In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered; of the RTI Act, the Commission awarded a compensation of Rs. 3000/- to the appellant for the loss and detriment suffered by him in having to pursue the appeals and getting the information late. The Commission directed the deemed PIO to provide the details of works as sought by the appellant and issued a show-cause notice to the deemed PIO under section 20(1) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees: Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him: Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. to give reasons as to why penalty should not be levied on him.
The appellant also claimed that he has been threatened since he is following this RTI application. He stated that he has received threats from the Corporator and Sanitary Inspector of MCD and has been physically manhandled. He also stated that has received unsigned anonymous letter threatening him and has filed a complaint at Narela Police Station. The Commission advised the Station House Officer of the Narela Police Station to take cognizance of this complaint with seriousness and after assessing the matter take appropriate actions if necessary. The Commission observed that the matters of threats to RTI users are taken very seriously and it will ensure that the state offers protection to RTI users and those who harass or intimidate them will have to pay the consequences.
During the hearing of the show-cause for the imposition of penalty, the deemed PIO claimed that he asked the appellant to come and do inspection of the records as the information was very voluminous. When the Commission asked the deemed PIO to explain how he had only supplied a one page information copied from display boards to the appellant after the order of the FAA, he stated that he understood that was the information being sought by the appellant.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that if the understanding of the deemed PIO was that the appellant was only seeking information about the figures pertaining to the amount spent in four years from the corporator’s funds this was available on the boards displayed by MCD and should actually have been supplied within 05 days of receipt of the RTI application. It was evident that he understood that the RTI information sought by the appellant was related to the figures spent from corporator’s funds for the last four years and the work orders. Yet the PIO did not supply the work orders until the order of the Commission. Holding that the PIO needed reminders from the FAA and the Information Commission to provide the information to the appellant, the Commission imposed a penalty of Rs. 25000/- on the deemed PIO for providing the information with a delay of over 100 days.
Citation: Mr. Joginder Dhaiya v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi in Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2012/000557/18356Penalty
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/385
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission