Can the fact that the PIO was non-conversant with Hindi be accepted as credible explanation for delay?
The Central Information Commission (CIC) had issued a show cause notice to the Public Information Officer (PIO) to give reasons as to why the penalty should not be imposed on him for the delay in providing the information to the appellant. The PIO submitted that the RTI application was addressed to ‘Mananiya Nirdeshak’ and not to the PIO and was written in Hindi. The PIO further explained that the said RTI application was received by one of the scientists in the Institute and since he could not understand the subject matter of the letter being not very conversant with Hindi language, he retained the same and did not forward it to the PIO. The PIO also submitted that he became aware of the pending RTI application only on receipt of the reminder from the applicant. On learning of this pendency, the PIO took immediate action to furnish information to the appellant. The PIO pleaded that the delay in providing information was not intentional and therefore, penalty should not be imposed.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) accepted the explanation as credible and dropped the penalty proceedings against the PIO. The Commission also recommended the Director of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) to issue written warning to the scientist who retained the RTI application unauthorisedly, causing violation of the provisions of the RTI Act.
Citation: Mr. Sanja Kumar v. Indian Statistical Institute in Adjunct to Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2011/001004
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/821
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