CIC: The appellant’s suggestion for public authorities for providing information after seeking assistance u/s 5(4) & not transferring RTI application to the ‘concerned public authority’ u/s 6(3) is not as per the RTI Act & same is not tenable
CIC: The appellant’s suggestion for public authorities for providing information after seeking assistance u/s 5(4) & not transferring RTI application to the ‘concerned public authority’ u/s 6(3) is not as per the RTI Act & same is not tenable - Wherever the Respondents/Appellants have a number of cases, efforts are made to club such cases so that they are heard on a single day
The appellant sought information regarding scope of adjudicatory functions of the Commission laid down by the Supreme Court in WP(C) 210 of 2012, copy of rules/instructions being followed in CIC received by the Central Government, copy of rules/instructions being followed in CIC which are not in accordance with DoPT clarification, along with status of appeals filed by him in the Commission.
Relevant facts emerging during hearing:
Both parties are present. The appellant filed an RTI application on 17.07.2013 seeking the above information. Nodal CPIO & Director in his reply stated that the direction, as sought in Point 1, was issued to the Central Govt. or a Competent Authority & not to the Commission. As for Point 2, no information exists. For Point 3, reply was given after the same was collected from the registry of IC(LS).
The FAA in his order dt. 09.10.2013 upheld the CPIO’s reply.
The appellant stated that for Point 1, he had sought copy of practice and procedure as was directed by the Supreme Court in its judgment dated 13.09.2012, wherein the competent authority was directed to frame all practice & procedure related rules to make the working of CIC effective but the CPIO gave a vague reply that the direction was issued to the Central Govt. or a Competent Authority & not to the Commission. The respondent reiterated the same. He further stated that as per his knowledge, only the copy of Act & Rules was received from DoPT. The appellant contended that his RTI application should have been transferred to the concerned public authority, to which the respondent agreed that it should have been transferred to the concerned public authority, i.e. DoPT.
Regarding point no. 2 of the RTI application, the appellant stated that as per the DoPT’s OM No. 1/1/2009/- IR dated 22.05.2009, wherein it was directed that the appeals/complaints are to be heard by the Commission and not by the benches of the Commission. The respondent stated they are not aware of any such OM.
Regarding point no. 3, the appellant stated that a hearing notice was issued to him, wherein his 14 cases were listed for hearing together and in the said hearing notice, no reference number to date of appeals/complaints was given, then how he could correlate his appeals/complaints filed by him in the Commission. Moreover, both appeals and complaints were clubbed together. He further stated that as per the case nos., his cases were to be heard by Shri Basant Seth [IC(BS)], then how come Shri M.L. Sharma, [IC(LS)] disposed of the same. The respondent stated that all the cases were clubbed together as they all were related to BSNL, Dept. of Telecommunication and in the said notice, diary nos. of all the appeals/complaints were given. The respondent also stated that around 80 cases were transferred to the registry of Shri M.L. Sharma by the registry of Shri Basant Seth and out of those cases, the appellant’s cases were heard. The appellant suggested that the Commission should direct the public authorities to make use of section 5(4) instead of 6(3) so that the information seeker get a response from the very public authority to whom the RTI application has been filed and not transferred u/s 6(3) to make the information seekers run from pillar-topost. He further suggested that in the hearing notice, the name of the Commissioner should also be mentioned so that the information seekers know who will hear the case. Further, he also stated that there should be a system of sending emails or text messages to the appellant/complainants about registration of their cases. He stated that he did not know when his cases were registered and that he was not informed of the same. The respondent stated that appellant/complainants can check the status of their daks on the CIC website by filling the necessary fields, namely, their name, diary number, email, etc.
After hearing the parties and on perusal of record, the Commission appreciates the concern of the appellant. The Commission directs the Nodal CPIO to transfer the RTI application to the concerned public authority, for providing information on Point 1, within 5 days of receipt of this order, along with a copy of RTI application and this order, under intimation to the Commission. The Commission in its meeting dt. 22.03.2011 while taking note of the increasing pendency of appeals/complaints over the last few years and realizing the need for their expeditious disposal, the Commission resolved that each single bench of the Commission shall take urgent steps to maximize its disposal without comprising the quality thereof, as a general rule, each single bench will endeavor to finally decide about 3200 appeals/complaints per year. Therefore, the Commission does not find any merit in the appellant’s arguments for Point 2. As for Point 3(a) to (d), information has already been provided. The Commission takes note of the appellant’s concern that 14 of his cases were clubbed for hearing and that he only got to know about them when he received the hearing notice for the same. However, in this regard, as per the norms set for discharge of functions in CIC, the appeals/complaints are generally taken up for hearing on first come first serve basis. Wherever the Respondents/Appellants have a number of cases, efforts are made to club such cases so that they are heard on a single day. Preference is also given to Senior Citizens and Physically Challenged Persons, for an out of turn hearing on a case to case basis for reasons to be recorded in writing considering the request.
The Supreme Court in CBSE v. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors. held:–
“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 analysed 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. …”
Therefore, the Commission is of the view that the appellant’s suggestion for public authorities for providing information after seeking assistance u/s 5(4) and not transferring RTI application to the ‘concerned public authority’ u/s 6(3) is not as per the RTI Act and same is not tenable. With these observations, the appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Shri H.K. Bansal v. Central Information Commission in F.No.CIC/YA/A/2014/000011-YA