Disciplinary action for repeated denial of information
The Appellant had filed his RTI Application seeking certain information about a file relating to a complaint made by him with respect to illegal renewal of some trademark. The PIO failed to tender any reply to the Appellant within the statutory time period of 30 days.
View of the CIC
The Commission held that it is only concerned with whether the Respondent PIO has replied to the appellant within 30 days of receipt of the RTI Application irrespective of any other extraneous facts and circumstances. It was open for the PIO to cite any of the exemption provisions under Section 8 or 9 of the RTI Act, if the information which sought by the Appellant was exempted from disclosure. The Commission is not concerned as to whether or not the Appellant already had the information which he was seeking through the mode of RTI Act.
The Commission noted that the PIO has failed to provide any reply whatsoever on various occasions under the RTI Act and this is a matter of serious concern. Holding that such lackadaisical attitude of the PIO cannot be changed by merely levying financial penalties one after another under Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act, the Commission recommend disciplinary action against the PIO under the service rules applicable to her, in accordance with Section 20 (2) of the RTI Act.
The citizenry is concerned with access to information at the end of the day. If any officer who is otherwise appointed to act as a statutory facilitator for providing information to the citizenry, starts acting like an obstacle, then the flow of information would be hindered affecting the citizenry. Such a situation demands disciplinary action against the PIO. Merely because a separate notice under Section 20 (2) is not issued to the PIO does not mean that the Commission cannot pass an appropriate Order under Section 20 (2) of the RTI Act in a case.
Section 20 (2) states that where the Information Commission is of the opinion that the PIO has, without any reasonable cause and persistently, failed to furnish information within the time specified, it shall recommend for disciplinary action against the PIO under the service rules applicable to him.
Citation: Shri Mohan Vidhani v. Registrar of Trademarks in Appeal No.CIC/SS/A/2011/000973