Proper maintenance of record in the RTI era
The photocopies of all documents submitted by the applicant as a guarantor/mortgager in a particular loan case were sought. The PIO denied the information saying that the relevant records were no longer available since the loan had been taken over by the Indian Bank. Later, during the hearing, the law officer of the bank submitted that the PIO had not been able to provide any information as the records had been destroyed in a fire.
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The commission did not accept the explanation, since the Appellate Authority provided several details about the property offered as guarantee in the case which could not have been possible if the records had been destroyed. Further, the CIC noted that the officers of the bank including the PIO have tried to mislead the information seeker and the Appellant suffered a lot of harassment and detriment in the process. The CIC, under Section 19(8) (b) of the RTI Act, directed the bank to pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 to the appellant.
The public Authorities should streamline the record maintenance policy so that the information may be easily retrieved. The CPIO should also be careful before claiming the non- availability of records for denial of any information.
Smt. Sushila Devi v. Punjab National Bank in CIC/SM/A/2010/001390