CIC: The bank has not complied fully with the requirement of subsection (XII) & (XIII) of Section 4(1)(b); This is the responsibility of the public authority and the CPIO cannot be held responsible for not complying with the above requirement
These files contain complaints in respect of the RTI applications dated 13.7.2013, 12.7.2013, 11.7.2013, 16.7.2013, 14.7.2013 and 10.7.2013 filed by the Complainant, seeking information on various points. He has lodged complaints to the Commission under Section 18 of the RTI Act in all the six cases. He states that “delayed part, half complete and improper” information has been provided to him. He has prayed for action under Section 20 (1) and (2) against the CPIO and FAA and intervention by the Commission by “invoking the Section 25 (5) of the RTI Act”, so that the RTI Act 2005 is implemented in the Union Bank of India.
2. The Complainant was not present in spite of a written notice having been sent to him. We heard the submissions of the Respondents.
3. In the RTI application dated 13.7.2013 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000081), the Complainant had enquired from the Regional Office (Delhi South) of the bank about the weblink on which the information regarding the monthly remuneration received by each of the officers and employees of the public authority was provided in terms of Section 4 (1) (b) (x) of the RTI Act. The CPIO responded on 14.9.2013, stating that the information was available at the bank’s website www.unionbankofindia.com. In his complaint, the Complainant has stated that the CPIO did not apply his mind to the query in the RTI application and merely provided him the website of the bank without giving any weblink. The Respondents submitted during the hearing that the above information is available on the website of the bank and is updated quarterly. According to them, it was also available when the RTI application was filed. They further submitted that in view of the above, they drew the attention of the Complainant to the website of the bank. They, however, volunteered to convey the relevant weblink to the Complainant at the earliest.
4. The RTI applications dated 12.7.2013 and 11.7.2013 (Files No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000078 and CIC/SH/A/2014/000079) sought information regarding the weblink on which the bank has put the details of beneficiaries of subsidy programmes and particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by the public authority in keeping with Section 4 (1) (b) (xii) and (xiii) of the RTI Act. The CPIO responded on 14.9.2013 in both the cases and informed the Complainant that the information was available at the bank’s website ‘www.unionbankofindia.com’. The Respondents submitted during the hearing that the number of beneficiaries of subsidy programmes etc. is very large, even at the regional level, and that detailed information concerning the same is available in the respective branches. They further submitted that the bank has not placed such details on its website.
5. In the RTI application dated 16.7.2013 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000083), the Complainant sought information regarding log books and use of vehicles. At point No. 9, he also sought information regarding retention period of records in the bank. The CPIO responded on 14.9.2013. The Respondents stated during the hearing that no log books are maintained and, therefore, in response to point No. 1 of the RTI application, it was stated that no such record was maintained in the office. They further submitted that some of the queries sought information regarding use by senior officers of the bank of vehicles of suppliers / clients / third party who have vested interest or work with the bank. The CPIO informed the Complainant that no such record was available. With regard to the query regarding attendance register of senior officers for the last one year, the CPIO claimed exemption under Section 8 (1) (d), (e) and (j) of the RTI Act. The Respondents volunteered to send a copy of their retention schedule of various records to the Complainant at the earliest (point No. 9 of the RTI application).
6. The RTI application dated 14.7.2013 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000082) sought information regarding the Sector 14, Gurgaon Branch of the bank. The CPIO responded on 4.11.2013 and provided information regarding the names of Branch Managers during the period 1.4.2003 to 31.3.2013 in response of point No. 1 of the RTI application. With regard to the other points, the Respondents submitted that in response to points No. 2 to 5, also seeking information for a period of ten years (1.4.2003 to 31.3.2013), the Complainant was informed that no record as required by him was maintained and that collection of information as required by him would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority. The remaining points were also responded to.
7. Regarding the RTI application dated 10.7.2013 (File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000080), the Complainant has stated that the CPIO erred in denying the information as sought at points 1 to 5 of the RTI application. The Respondents submitted that the information sought was regarding ATM transactions for a period of ten years. The Complainant was informed in most of the cases that the information sought by him was not available and that its compilation would disproportionately divert the resources of the bank from its day to day work.
8. We have considered the records and the submissions made by the Respondents before us. We see no ground to draw the conclusion that there was a deliberate attempt on the part of the CPIO to provide incomplete or misleading information. However, at the same time, it is clear that training in RTI matters would help the concerned bank personnel in improving the quality of their responses to RTI applications. Examination of two of the complaints before us has also revealed that the bank has not complied fully with the requirement of subsection (XII) and (XIII) of Section 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act. This is the responsibility of the public authority and the CPIO cannot be held responsible for not complying with the above requirement. The Supreme Court of India in the case of Central Board of Secondary Education & Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors. has observed that the effect of the provisions and scheme of the RTI Act is to divide ‘information’ into the three categories. They are:
“(i) Information which promotes transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, disclosure of which may also help in containing or discouraging corruption (enumerated in clauses (b) and (c) of Section 4(1) of RTI Act).
(ii)Other information held by public authority (that is all information other than those falling under clauses (b) and (c) of Section 4(1) of RTI Act).
(iii) Information which is not held by or under the control of any public authority and which cannot be accessed by a public authority under any law for the time being in force.
In regard to the information falling under the first category, there is also a special responsibility upon public authorities to suo moto publish and disseminate such information so that they will be easily and readily accessible to the public without any need to access them by having recourse of section 6 of RTI Act.”
9. As regards the delay in responding to the RTI applications, we note that this aspect was examined by us earlier also while considering eleven appeals of the Complainant in regard to some other RTI applications, also filed to the Delhi Regional office of the same public authority. In our order No. CIC/VS/A/2013/001727/SH, CIC/VS/A/2013/001728/SH, CIC/VS/A/2013/001730/SH, CIC/VS/A/2013/001729/SH, CIC/VS/A/2013/001731/SH and CIC/VS/A/2013/001732/SH dated 22.8.2014, we had directed the public authority to look into the issue of workload of their officers dealing with RTI matters and ensure provision of adequate number of hands. During the hearing, leading to our decision No. CIC/VS/A/2013/001733/SH, CIC/VS/A/2013/001734/SH, CIC/VS/A/2013/001735/SH, CIC/VS/A/2013/001736/SH and CIC/VS/A/2013/001737/SH 12.9.2014, the Respondents informed us that in compliance of our order dated 22.8.2014, they had posted a full time law officer to look after the RTI work at the Regional Office.
10. In view of the foregoing, action against the CPIO under Section 20 of the RTI Act is not considered necessary. However, from the records before us, it appears that the FAA has not been disposing of the appeals filed to him. We would, therefore, direct the FAA to ensure that the appeals filed to him on RTI matters are disposed of strictly in keeping with the provisions of the RTI Act and within the timeframe stipulated in the said Act. Further, under Section 25 (5) of the RTI Act, we recommend the following steps to the public authority:
(a) Organization of a familiarization cum training programme in RTI matters for its concerned officers.
(b) Full compliance with subsection (XII) and (XIII) of Section 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act.
11. With the above observations, as well as the direction and recommendations contained in paragraph 10 above, the six complaints are disposed of.
12. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties. The Registry is directed to send a copy each of this order, besides the usual recipients, to the CMD and head of the New Delhi Regional Office of the bank.
Citation: Shri Harinder Dhingra v. Union Bank of India in File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000081 File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000078 File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000079 File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000083 File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000082 File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000080