CIC: Denial of statements of accounts regarding Leave Fare Concessions of fourteen officers of the bank upheld - while considering a complaint made u/s 18, the CIC cannot direct the concerned PIO to provide the information which the complainant had sought
This matter pertains to fourteen RTI applications filed by the Complainant seeking information regarding Leave Fare Concessions (LFCs) availed of by fourteen officers of the bank; as well as a certified copy of the statement of the accounts of the concerned officers to which the amount of LFC bills sanctioned was credited. The CPIOs denied the information under Section 8 (1) (e) and (j) of the RTI Act on the ground that it pertained to third parties. Not satisfied with the response of the CPIOs, the Complainant filed an appeal to the First Appellate Authority on 27.4.2013. In his order dated 5.6.2013, the FAA upheld the decision of the CPIOs. The Complainant filed a complaint dated 28.6.2013 to the CIC, which was received by the Commission on 3.7.2013. In this complaint, he prayed, inter alia, for an enquiry by the Commission under Section 18 of the RTI Act, a direction to the CPIOs to comply with the requirements of Section 7 (1) and give proper reply and imposition of penalty on; as well as disciplinary action against the CPIOs under Section 20 of the RTI Act.
2. The Respondents reiterated the replies given by their CPIOs. However, while we agree with their decision to deny the statements of accounts of the officers in question, we do not agree with their decision to deny the information in respect of the LFCs. Since LFCs were availed of by the officers concerned from public funds, information concerning the same, except for personal information such as the names and age etc. of family members, cannot be denied under Section 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; and (j) of the RTI Act. At the same time, while disagreeing with the decision of the Respondents not to disclose the information concerning LFCs, we see no ground to conclude that denial of this information was a deliberate or malafide act. Moreover, the Complainant was not present, in spite of a written notice having been sent to him, to substantiate his complaint. In view of the foregoing, penalty / disciplinary action against the CPIOs is not warranted.
3. We now come to the prayer of the Complainant to direct the CPIOs to give a proper reply to his RTI applications. In this context, we note the following observation made by the High Court of Delhi in its judgment dated 28.10.2013 in J. K. Mittal Vs. Central Information Commission & Anr. [W.P. (C) NO. 6755/2012]:
“...there can be no dispute that while considering a complaint made under Section 18 of the Act, the Commission cannot direct the concerned CPIO to provide the information which the complainant had sought from him. Such a power can only be exercised when a Second Appeal in terms of Subsection (3) of Section 19 is preferred before the Commissioner.”
In view of the foregoing, while advising the Respondents to keep in mind our above observations at the time of responding to RTI applications seeking information concerning LFCs in future, we would refrain from issuing a directive to them to provide any information in this case.
4. With the above observations, the complaint is disposed of.
5. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Yatendra Kumar Jain v. Syndicate Bank in File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/000271