Can the FAA give a hearing instead of passing an order under RTI?
The appellant sought information regarding leave taken by Executive Engineers of Andaman Public Works Department (APWD) such as the certified copies of the leave application, list of officers (Name, Designation & period) to whom the charges were handed over during the absence of regular Executive Engineer, copy of letter of attestation of signature of officers who had taken and handed over charges, copy of note sheet, sanctioning the leave etc. The Public Information Officer (PIO) did not respond to the application. The appellant claimed in the second appeal that instead of passing an order, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) gave a hearing and stated that the leave records of any official could not be provided in view of the order of the CIC. The FAA reportedly held that the leaves were sanctioned by the competent authority and as they were paid by the public money he was more concern about it and straightly refused to provide any information as the same was not covered under public interest.
View of CIC
The Deemed PIO submitted that since the FAA had stated in the hearing that the information was exempt he did not send the information. The Central Information Commission (CIC) noted that FAA did not issue any order as required by the law and hence the FAA’s contention during the hearing that the information was exempt was flawed. The Commission stated that the information sought was about the leave of public servants and such information cannot be construed as information which can be considered to be an issue of privacy of public servants. The Commission further warned the PIO that information has to be sent within 30 days to appellant and if any exemptions were claimed reasons must be given explaining how exemption apply. The Commission directed the PIO to provide the required details to the appellant.
The PIO was lucky to have escaped a show-cause notice for not providing information despite not responding to the RTI application within stipulated time. All PIO/ FAA must keep in mind that appropriate written orders must be passed within 30 days of the receipt of the application / appeal.
Citation: Mr. S Vinaya Kumar v. APWD, Port Blair in Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2012/001094/19151
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/436
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission