Can compensation be claimed for loss of records?
The appellant sought information regarding the surrendering of 4 policies in her exclusive name from the PIO, LIC of India. She was informed that the records of the policies were being searched by the branch office and that on account of shifting of the premises of the branch office, the same was taking time and that she would be kept informed of the progress. It was confirmed by respondent later that the schedule for retention of records in respect of surrender policies was 5 years and that the present case was only 2 years old.
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The LIC pleaded before the Commission that there are no records to show that the requested documents have been destroyed. However it was stated that the documents cannot be located. The LIC was provided a second chance to locate the documents but it failed to locate the records. The CIC noted that the LIC has failed to locate the requested documents and has not provided any credible explanation for having misplaced the same. Therefore, while accepting the averments of the appellant that the foreclosure of her policies has caused immense mental torture and financial loss, the CIC awarded compensation of Rs. 5000/– to the appellant 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 Act.
The record keeping in the government sector is far from perfect. Orders of this kind are a reminder to the public authorities to upgrade their record system failing which they would end up paying compensation for every loss of record.
Citation: Smt. Manisha Gupta v. LIC of India in Adjunct to Appeal No. CIC/DS/A/2011/000355