A cheque issued in appellant’s name in lieu of his PF at the time of his retirement in 1997 was not received by him - He sought to know in whose account it was encashed - CIC: The information being sought was not available as its retention period was over
1. The appellant submitted RTI application dated May 2, 2014 before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), State Bank of Travancore, Chitoor; seeking information regarding the cheque no. 240912 dt. 1.2.1997 for Rs.51848/- issued by the O/o the EE, Electrical Division, Chittur etc.; through a total of 4 points.
2. The CPIO denied information u/s 8(1) (d), (e) & (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 vide letter dated May 24, 2014. Not satisfied with the CPIO’s reply, the appellant preferred an appeal dated June 3, 2014 to the first appellate authority (FAA) stating that the CPIO had not followed the procedure given u/s 11 of the RTI Act, 2005 before denying the information sought for. Vide order dated June 24, 2014; the FAA upheld the CPIO’s decision.
3. Dissatisfied with the response of the public authority, the appellant preferred second appeal before the Commission.
4. The matter was heard by the Commission. The appellant’s representative submitted that one cheque of Rs.52,000/- was issued in the name of the appellant in lieu of his PF at the time of his retirement from his employer i.e. the Electricity Board in the year 1997. This cheque was, however, never received by the appellant. It could not be found whether it was sent by post or simply handed over to the appellant. He stated the Electricity Board had informed that money had been debited from their account therefore, it was the duty of the Bank to inform as to in whose account the said amount had been credited, whether it was the appellant’s account or anybody else’s account. The Bank had denied the information on the ground of its being a third party information but he contended that the appellant was not a third party as his rights had been affected by the Bank’s denial of information. The appellant did not get his PF amount. On being asked as to when the appellant had formally made a complaint in this regard, the respondents stated that the complaint was made some 34 years back. The matter was, however, related to the year 1997. He stated that the appellant had filed a case against the electricity board in the High Court in the year 2014 which is still subjudice.
5. The respondents submitted that the date of cheque was 1.2.1997 and the appellant had sought the information regarding that cheque on 2.5.2014 i.e. after more than 17 years. The information sought was very old. As per their record retention schedule paid cheque record is maintained for 10 years and other vouchers for 8 years. They stated that initially they denied the information on the ground of the information sought being of third party as the appellant had not intimated that the cheque was for his PF amount. But when they came to know about the appellant’s bonafide, they tried to trace the information. After putting in a lot of effort they have been able to trace the copy of the ledger but the credit details were not available. They also added that they had also submitted the same copy of the ledger before the High Court and were ready to provide the same to the appellant. But the appellant’s representative was not quite satisfied as it would not serve his purpose.
6. In view of the above submissions made by both the parties, the Commission accepts the submissions made by the respondents that the information being sought was not available as its retention period was over and the respondents can only provide what is available with them keeping in view the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. The Commission also observes that the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Central Board of Secondary Education and Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors. [(2011)8SCC497] has held that :
“35. At this juncture, it is necessary to clear some misconceptions about the RTI Act. The RTI Act provides access to all information that is available and existing. This is clear from a combined reading of Section 3 and the definitions of 'information' and 'right to information' under Clauses (f) and (j) of Section 2 of the Act. If a public authority has any information in the form of data or analyzed data, or abstracts, or statistics, an applicant may access such information, subject to the exemptions in Section 8 of the Act. But where the information sought is not a part of the record of a public authority, and where such information is not required to be maintained under any law or the rules or regulations of the public authority, the Act does not cast an obligation upon the public authority, to collect or collate such nonavailable information and then furnish it to an applicant. A public authority is also not required to furnish information which require drawing of inferences and/or making of assumptions. It is also not required to provide 'advice' or 'opinion' to an applicant, nor required to obtain and furnish any 'opinion' or 'advice' to an applicant. The reference to 'opinion' or 'advice' in the definition of 'information' in Section 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; of the Act, only refers to such material available in the records of the public authority…”
7. The respondents may however provide a copy of the ledger sheet traced by them to the appellant. The appeal is disposed of.
Citation: Shri Sasikumar M, Palakkad v. State Bank of Travancore in Appeal No. CIC/MP/A/2014/001023