CIC: Earlier CPIO has neglected his duties in both capacities of being a designated CPIO & officer of Archaeological Survey of India - CIC: Maximum penalty of Rs. 25,000 imposed upon Mr. Chandra Pandyan; ASI directed to pay Rs. 10,000 as compensation
1. The appellant filed RTI application seeking information about the action taken on his application requesting for grant of NOC for renovation at door No. 74, Sengalunnerodai, Kanchipuram with ref. No. F. No. 115/NMA/CA/ (T.N.) 2014/283 dated 27.08.2014. As there was no action on the appellant’s RTI application, he wrote to the Regional Director (South), Tamil Nadu to expedite his application seeking NOC permission. The Regional Director forwarded the application to Mrs. K. Moortheeswari, CPIO, ASI, Chennai Circle who further forwarded the same to Mr. Kuldeep Takkar, Under Secretary, Ministry of Culture. The RTI application has been repeatedly transferred to different officers and has returned back to the Regional Director (South). The appellant has approached this Commission with a complaint as no action has been taken on his application for over two years.
2. The Commission’s order dated 09.02.2017:
2. The appellant has requested for grant of NOC for renovation and repair of his property at door No. 74. He also wrote to the Regional Director (South), Tamil Nadu to expedite. MP Gowda, CPIO stated that though sanction should be granted in 3 months as per their charter it was granted after 3 years, i.e., on 15.11.2016.
3. The Commission directs the respondent authority to provide point wise information to the appellant along with reasons for delay of 3 years for sanctioning of permission for renovation of his door No. 74. 4. The Commission directs MP Gowda, CPIO and Mr. Chandra Shekhar, earlier CPIO to show-cause why maximum penalty should not be imposed against each of them for obstructing information and for not informing the appellant the reasons for 3 years delay, within 21 days from the date of receipt of this order. The public authority is directed to show-cause why it should not be directed to pay compensation for the deprivation caused by delay in sanction and denial of information, within 21 days from the date of receipt of this order. The case is posted for hearing on 11.3.2017 at 12:00 PM.
3. Mr Chadra Pandyan, CPIO submitted that after receiving the appellant’s RTI application dated 23.10.2015 they demanded RTI fee to be transferred in favour of Member Secretary, National Monuments Authority. He claimed that the IPO was addressed to the Superintending Archaeologist, therefore, they could not process the application.
4. Subsequently, they received the IPO in favour of Member Secretary, National Monuments Authority on 05.01.2016. The inspection of site before granting NOC for renovation at 74, Sengalunnerodai, Kanchipuram was conducted by the Department on 14.01.2016 and first response letter to theappellant was sent on 27.01.2016. The NOC was finally granted to the appellant on 15.11.2016.
5. The Commission observes that the CPIO has responded to the RTI application after three months. Such delay has been caused in order to procure the RTI fees through IPO because the Public Authority had not specified on their official website, the details of the authority in favour of which the IPO must be sent. The appellant is at the receiving end of such negligence caused by the Public Authority. Besides, the delay caused in furnishing the response to appellant’s RTI, the process of granting NOC to him was also unreasonably extended. The time period within which the entire procedure for granting NOC must be complete under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites & Remains (Validation and Amendment) Act 2010, is three months. The appellant had submitted the applicant for grant of NOC on 12.08.2014 and the NOC was granted after a delay of twenty-five months on 15.11.2016.
6. Mr. Chandra Pandyan, earlier CPIO has neglected his duties in both capacities of being a designated CPIO and officer of Archaeological Survey of India. The CPIO is also found to be at fault for not updating the details on their official website required for submitting the RTI fee by an applicant. There are no sufficient grounds for such negligence and delay caused in furnishing the information sought by appellant, hence, Mr. Chandra Pandyan is held liable under section 20 of RTI Act.
7. The Commission imposes maximum of Rs. 25,000 upon Mr. Chandra Pandyan, CPIO and the Appellate Authority is directed to recover the amount of Rs.25,000/- from the salary payable to him by way of Demand Draft drawn in favour of ‘PAO CAT’ New Delhi in 5 equal monthly instalments. The first instalment should reach the Commission by 05.04.2018 and the last instalment should reach by 05.07.2018. The Demand Draft should be sent to Shri S.P. Beck, Joint Secretary & Addl. Registrar, Room No. 505, Central Information Commission, CIC Bhawan, Baba Gangnath Marg, Munirka, New Delhi-110067.
8. The Commission directs the Archaeological Survey of India, Chennai Division to pay Rs. 10,000 as a token compensation for the unreasonable delay and harassment caused to the appellant, within 15 days of receipt of this order.
9. Mr. M.P. Gowda was not the CPIO on date of filing of RTI application and is not responsible for the delay caused in furnishing response. The penalty proceedings against Mr. M.P. Gowda, present CPIO are dropped.
(M. Sridhar Acharyulu)
Central Information Commissioner
Citation: K Venkatesan v. PIO, ASIK Venkatesan v. PIO, ASI in CIC/KY/A/2016/000204, Date of Decision - 13.02.2018