Can a PIO transfer the application to one of his colleague in the same department?
An application was filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Department of Posts (DoP) seeking information regarding total number of account holder in postal savings with saving bank, MIS, PPF etc. at the respective post offices in Bangalore Urban Area during the financial years 2009-2010 & 2010-2011 respectively. The appellant also sought the monthly turnover/collections at the above post offices during the said financial years. The Public Information Officer (PIO) provided some information to the appellant.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant stated that he had requested for sub post office wise information but only the consolidated number of accounts was furnished to him. The respondent submitted that the information requested by the appellant it is not being compiled at the central level and was scattered in 187 sub-post offices and compilation of the same would have disproportionately diverted the resources of the public authority. He also stated that there were some PIOs covering Bangalore Urban area whose names and other details are mentioned in the website and if the appellant makes an RTI application to them they will transfer the same to the respective sub-post offices with instructions to furnish the information directly to the appellant. The appellant pointed out that in response to one of the queries, the PIO intimated that the information can be obtained by filing an application with the Director of Accounts (Postal) Bangalore, whereas he should have either sought his assistance under section 5(4) or transferred his application as per section 6(3) of the RTI Act. The appellant demanded that penal action should be initiated against the respondent under section 20 for not providing the information.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that PIO is expected to provide the information available with him. He is not required to collect and compile the information on the demand of a requester nor is he expected to create a fresh one merely because someone has asked for it. The CIC accepted the contentions of the PIO relating to the collecting and compiling of data from 187 sub post offices stating that such attempts would not allow for scrutiny of public action to detect and determine the nature and extent of deviation from the accepted polices. The Commission, however, agreed that the PIO should either have sought the assistance of his counterpart in the office of the Director of Accounts (Postal) Bangalore or transferred this part of the RTI application to him for supply of information. The CIC directed the PIO to furnish the information to the appellant. Regarding the appellant’s plea for imposition of penalty, the Commission referred to a decision of Delhi High Court in WP(C) 3114/2007, decided on 03/12/2007 (Bhagat Singh Vs. CIC & Anrs) and held that the appellant has not been able to establish any mala-fide on the part of the PIO; hence, penalty cannot be imposed on him.
Citation: Mr. S.C. Chopra v. Department of Posts in File No. CIC/BS/A/2012/000481/2393
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1345
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