Can a PIO file an appeal against the order of FAA with the CIC?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Office of the Commissioner of Central Excise & Service Tax seeking copies of the Gold Dealers License of a particular license number as on March 31 in the years 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed the appellant that his Office does not have Gold Dealers License with that particular license number however, renewal entries of that License were provided to the applicant. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) held that from the submissions made by the PIO, it is not clear as to whether the records pertaining to the information sought has been legally destroyed or not or whether they have made any diligent search to trace the records pertaining to the information sought. The FAA directed the PIO to provide the information sought by the appellant. The PIO filed the second appeal before the Central Information Commission (CIC) against the order of the FAA.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the PIO (appellant) submitted that the documents sought by the RTI applicant pertained to an Act which was repealed in 1990 and the documents sought were 48 years old. The PIO also informed the CIC that as per Central Excise Office Procedure Manual, records pertaining to Licenses under Gold Control Act are to be preserved only up to 3 years from expiry of validity of the licenses. In the instant case, the license referred to was last renewed in the year 1980 and would have been destroyed after 1983. However, sincere efforts were made to trace the records sought by the applicant and after a thorough search, a reference to these licenses was found in Kundapur Range Office wherein some renewal entries of it were made. The copies of the same were provided to the RTI applicant. The respondent representing the FAA stated that the PIO has not mentioned about the Central Excise Procedure Manual pertaining to Licenses under Gold Control Act, in his reply submitted before the FAA.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the information sought by the applicant is about 48 years old and as per procedure of the Central Excise Procedure Manual the records sought for were supposed to be weeded out. The Commission directed the PIO to apprise the RTI applicant about the Central Excise Procedure Manual pertaining to Licenses under Gold Control Act.
Citation: Mr. M.B. Mammo v. Office of the Commissioner of Central Excise & Service Tax in Case No. CIC/SS/A/2012/001757
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/906
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission