CIC: The FAA did not dispose of the first appeal filed by the appellant - CIC: Being a quasi judicial body, the FAA should have given an opportunity of hearing the appellant & then passed a speaking order; The FAA has failed to exercise his powers
The appellant has sought the following information:
1. Whether it is correct that salary/contract fee of retired government servants in IICA is being reduced drastically.
2. Under which Rule of IICA, Government of India or DoPT, such action has been suggested by BOG, IICA and being implemented by IICA.
3. Is it not breach of contract which has been entered between IICA and retired government servants?
4. Whether their salaries has been stopped for the month of April 2017 to implement their policy without any notice to the effected party.
5. Other related information.
Grounds for Second Appeal
The CPIO did not provide the desired information.
Submissions made by Appellant and Respondent during Hearing:
The representative of the appellant submitted that an improper and vague reply has been provided to him by the CPIO. He further submitted that the First Appellate Authority has failed to dispose off the appeal filed on 07.07.2017. He also submitted that ever since he was appointed as a consultant in IICA against a fixed remuneration of Rs 50800/- by contract, the said amount was regularly paid till March 2017. However, from the month of April, 2017, the monthly remuneration was changed drastically without intimating any of the similarly placed employees. Despite filing numerous representations in this regard, no action has been taken till date and the concerned person i.e. A.O is responsible for the same and he must be penalized for his callous attitude for not responding to any of their representations on this issue, thereby violating the principles of natural justice.
The CPIO choose to remain absent despite duly served notice. Observations: The Commission takes grave exception to the absence of the CPIO during the hearing without intimation thereof.
At the outset, it is important to mention that the information sought by the appellant through his RTI application indicates that he was appointed as a consultant in IICA on fixed terms and conditions and the remuneration to be paid to each consultant was fixed as Rs 50,800/- per month. However, the remuneration was changed after March, 2017 without any consultation or intimation to the employees and till date no communication has been sent to them for such sudden changes in their respective contracts. The appellant through his present RTI application is trying to settle his above mentioned grievance. It is to be noted however, that the Commission is not an appropriate forum for redressal of such grievances and the appellant is advised to take up the matter with the appropriate authority of the organization. From a perusal of the relevant case records, it is noted that although a reply has been provided by the CPIO, the same is not proper. With regard to points no 2 & 5 of the RTI application, if there are any rules available on record as per the queries raised by the appellant, the same should be provided to the appellant and if not, a categorical reply to this effect should be provided. In respect of points 1, 3, 4 and 6 of the RTI application, no relief can be given as they are not covered u/s 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 RTI Act. It is also noted that the FAA has failed to dispose of the appeal filed by the appellant on 07.07.2017, thereby violating the provisions of the RTI Act.
Based on the above observation, the CPIO is directed to re-visit the RTI application and provide revised replies on points no 2 & 5 of the above mentioned RTI application, free of cost to the appellant within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order under intimation to the Commission. The Commission takes grave exception to the absence of the CPIO during the hearing without any intimation thereof despite duly served notice on 28.03.2019 vide speed post no. ED849384529IN. Accordingly, the CPIO is directed to provide an explanation for non appearance before the Commission within 15 days of receipt of this order.
The Commission also finds that the FAA did not dispose of the first appeal filed by the appellant in the instant appeal. The FAA, being a quasi judicial body, should have given an opportunity of hearing the appellant and then gone into aspects like whether the PIO had given a correct reply, whether he has applied the provisions of the Act, etc. while disposing off the appeal, by passing a speaking order. In the instant case, the FAA has failed to exercise his quasijudicial powers . The Commission, therefore, cautions the FAA to strictly follow the RTI regime while disposing of appeals and pass a speaking order, after taking due cognizance of the merits of each case. A copy of this order is marked to the concerned FAA for his information. The present CPIO is directed to serve a copy of this order on the FAA immediately upon the receipt of the order.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Vanaja N. Sarna
Citation: R K Bhardwaj v. Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs in Decision no.: CIC/MOCAF/A/2017/182602/00471, Date of Decision: 18/04/2019