CIC: Information concerning the expenditure incurred from public funds on repairs / renovations of the properties of the bank cannot be denied - CIC: The said information is certainly not old & should be available on the bank records; No penalty imposed
Date of decision : 13th April 2016
These files contain appeals in respect of the RTI applications dated 10.6.2014 and 8.1.2015, filed by the Appellant, seeking information regarding the action taken by the Respondents on a complaint alleging financial loss of nearly Rs. 5 lakhs, suffered by the bank in the Bangalore Region, purchase of certain properties by the bank and expenses incurred on repairs / renovations of those properties. Not satisfied with the response of the Respondents, the Appellant has approached the CIC in second appeal in both the cases.
2. With regard to the RTI application dated 10.6.2014 (File No. 405), seeking information regarding the reported loss of nearly Rs. 5 lakhs in the Bangalore Region, the Appellant stated that the information sought at points No. 6 and 7 has not been provided. At point No. 6, he had sought copies of the policy circulars issued by the central office on deputation of award staff in bank. The CPIO replied that there were no policy guidelines in this regard. The Appellant submitted that at annexure E to his second appeal, he has enclosed copy of a circular dated 21.3.1985 in this regard and, therefore, the Respondents were wrong in informing him that there were no policy guidelines concerning this matter. The Respondents stated that the words used in the circular enclosed by the Appellant are “hints or suggestions” and it did not contain any policy guidelines. Therefore, the CPIO had replied that there were no policy guidelines. The Respondents reiterated that there are no policy circulars in the area mentioned at point No. 6. At point No. 7, the Appellant had sought copies of all the correspondence between certain offices of the Respondents in respect of deputation of Mr. A. F. Bihse with TA/DA from Hubli to Bijapur Branch between 2007 to 2012. The Appellant stated that the Respondents informed him that no such correspondence had been traced. However, he has enclosed, at annexures F and G of his second appeal, copies of some letters concerning deputation of award staff. The Respondents stated that the information sought was specifically about the deputation of Shri A. F. Bihse and they have traced no correspondence on this issue on their records. In view of the above clarifications given by the Respondents, we would not interfere with the CPIO’s reply to points No. 6 and 7.
3. Regarding the RTI application dated 8.1.2015 (File No. 1516), the Appellant stated that the information sought at point No. 6 concerning “work order copy” of the work undertaken in respect of certain properties of the bank and copies of the final bills of contractors for the last three financial years (2012, 2013 and 2014) and from April 2014 till the date of the RTI application, was not provided. The Respondents reiterated denial of the said information by the CPIO under Section 8 (1) (d) and (j) of the RTI Act and also stated that the information, being old, may not be readily available. We do not agree with the decision of the CPIO in this case. The expenditure has been incurred from public funds on repairs / renovations of the properties of the bank and the information concerning the same cannot be denied. In our view, the said information is certainly not old and should be available on the records of the bank. Therefore, the CPIO is directed to provide to the Appellant the complete information in response to point No. 6 of the RTI application dated 8.1.2015. The information should be provided free of charge, within thirty days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission.
4. The Appellant alleged that the information in response to point No. 6 was denied deliberately to protect certain officers of the bank. He further submitted that the Respondents deny information in a large number of cases in response to RTI applications. He prayed for imposition of penalty on the CPIO. The Respondents denied that they refuse to provide information in a large number of cases. They submitted that since the information was provided by them in response to points No. 1 to 5 of the RTI application dated 8.1.2015, there was no deliberate denial of information in response to point No. 6. The CPIO gave a response as per his assessment of the query at point No. 6. Taking into account the totality of the facts of the case placed before us, we are of the view that deliberate denial of information by the CPIO has not been established. Therefore, we do not regard it as a fit case for consideration of imposition of penalty on the CPIO.
5. With the directions in paragraph 3 and the above observations, the two appeals are disposed of.
6. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Suhas Vaidya v. Bank of Maharashtra in File No. CIC/SH/A/2015/000405 File No. CIC/SH/A/2015/001516