CIC: information has been provided yet appellant continues to file applications on the same issue; appellant warned to be careful in future otherwise his applications may be dismissed without hearing for being vexatious, repetitive & with motivated intent
CIC: the appellant is trying to settle personal scores with the third party & the demeanour of the appellant says it all; it is clear that information has been provided to the appellant time and again, yet he continues to file a spate of RTI applications on the same issue - CIC advised the appellant to act as a responsible citizen and to use the rights given to him under the RTI Act with full responsibility in future so as not to overburden the public authority, third party and the Commission with frivolous and vexatious RTI applications which impinge on the scarce resources of the three organizations - CIC also warned the appellant to be more careful in future failing which it will be constrained to dismiss his applications without hearing on the grounds of being vexatious and repetitive and with motivated intention
The appellant sought information regarding demolition/sealing orders, whether any FIR filed on the appellant’s complaint, along with action taken on the same regarding an unauthorised construction.
Relevant facts emerging during hearing:
Both the parties are present. The appellant had filed two RTI applications on 16.04.2013 & 12.03.2013 seeking the above information. The PIO in his reply dt. 24.05.2013 stated that the relevant files are not available and the RTI application dt. 12.03.2013 was transferred to ADE/PIO/HQ/SDMC but no reply was provided to the appellant. The FAA in his order directed PIO/EE(B)-II/SZ to provide revised reply/information as per the provisions of RTI Act, compliance of which was done by the PIO on 02.07.2013. The FAA / Dy.Commissioner / SZ did not dispose of the appeal. The appellant stated that the property in question referred to by the appellant is MKD National Public School being run on commercial lines under South Zone, SDMC. The respondent stated that the appellant has directed a spate of RTI-applications containing queries for detailed, voluminous but inane information ¯ all directed at harassing and discomfiting the public authority and the third party. No public interest attaches to disclosure of this information and all the applications filed by the appellant were vexatious and frivolous. Yet, they consented to provide appellant with information wherever it was possible to disclose these without incurring avoidable expenditure and where the information was centrally available.
The respondent stated that the concerned files had been called by Court (ATMCD) since February, 2013 and the RTI was filed in May, 2013, now the records have been remanded back and information was provided to the appellant before the Commission. The respondent in his written submission have stated that the appellant has filed has number of similar RTI applications in the dept. and that information sought by him is usually voluminous which leads to diversion of resources. The respondent stated that the complaint dt. 16.01.2013 filed by the appellant was transferred to Education Dept./HQ/SDMC on 20.02.2013 and the said complaint was enquired into, an Action Taken Report on the same was also provided to the appellant. The Principal of the School, who is also present, stated that the appellant has been harassing them and that the said School is being run after taking the necessary permission from the appropriate authorities. She stated that the appellant, due to personal enmity, has become a frequent visitor of the School and that she has filed several complaints against him regarding extortion of money and using filthy language.
The respondent stated that the appellant has sought information on the basis of action taken report on complaints filed by him, some points relate to third party which cannot be provided. Written Submissions dt. 17.07.2014 & 28.07.2014 of the respondent authority & third party have been received in the Commission.
After hearing the parties and on perusal of records, the Commission observes that the appellant, in both his RTI applications, has been provided with the information sought. The appellant sought information regarding demolition/sealing orders, whether any FIR filed on the appellant’s complaint, along with action taken on the same regarding an unauthorised construction; the same has been provided to him. During the hearing it has become evident to the Commission that the appellant is trying to settle personal scores with the third party and he has not established any larger public interest in disclosure of information. The demeanour of the appellant says it all. Moreover, in one of the RTI applications filed before the Respondent Authority, the appellant has mentioned that he has filed 26 complaints against the said School. From bare perusal of the record, it is clear that information has been provided to the appellant time and again, yet he continues to file a spate of RTI applications on the same issue.
The Supreme Court in Advocate General, Bihar vs. M.P. Khair Industries (AIR 1980 SC 946) has termed fling of frivolous and vexatious petitions as abuse of the process. Some of such abuses specifically mentioned by the Apex Court include initiating or carrying on proceedings which are wanting in bona-fides or which are frivolous, vexatious or oppressive. The Apex Court also observed that in such cases the Court has extensive alternative powers to prevent an abuse of its process by striking out or staying proceedings or by prohibiting taking up further proceedings.
In this context, it would be pertinent to refer to the following observations of Pasayat J. in Ashok Kumar Pandey vs. The State of West Bengal (AIR 2003 SC 280 Para 11):
“It is depressing to note that on account of such trumpery proceedings initiated before the Courts, innumerable days are wasted, which time otherwise could have been spent for the disposal of cases of the genuine litigants. Though we spare no efforts in fostering and developing the laudable concept of PIL and extending our long arm of sympathy to the poor, the ignorant, the oppressed and the needy whose fundamental rights are infringed and violated and whose grievances go unnoticed, unrepresented and unheard; yet we cannot avoid but expressing our opinion that while genuine litigants with legitimate grievances relating to civil matters involving properties worth hundreds of millions of rupees and criminal cases in which persons sentenced to death facing gallows under untold agony and persons sentenced to life imprisonment and kept in incarceration for long years, persons suffering from undue delay in service matters, Government or private, persons awaiting the disposal of case… … … etc. etc. are all standing in a long serpentine queue for years with the fond hope of getting into the Courts and having their grievances redressed, the busybodies, meddlesome interlopers, wayfarers or officious interveners having absolutely no public interest except for personal gain or private profit either of themselves or as proxy of others or for any other extraneous motivation or for glare of publicity break the queue muffing their faces by wearing the mask of public interest litigation and get into the Courts by filing vexatious and frivolous petitions and thus criminally waste the valuable time of the Courts, as a result of which the queue standing outside the doors of the Courts never moves, which piquant situation creates frustration in the minds of the genuine litigants and resultantly they lose faith in the administration of our judicial system.”
The Supreme Court in Central Board of Secondary Education & Anr. V. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors. held,
“37. The right to information is a cherished right. Information and right to information are intended to be formidable tools in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring in transparency and accountability. The provisions of RTI Act should be enforced strictly and all efforts should be made to bring to light the necessary information under clause (b) of section 4(1) of the Act which relates to securing transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in discouraging corruption. But in regard to other information,(that is information other than those enumerated in section 4(1)(b) Every public authority shall publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,- (i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; (ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees; (iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control; (vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof; (viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public; (ix) a directory of its officers and employees; (x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations; (xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; (xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; (xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it; (xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form; (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed and thereafter update these publications every year; and (c) of the Act), equal importance and emphasis are given to other public interests (like confidentiality of sensitive information, fidelity and fiduciary relationships, efficient operation of governments, etc.). Indiscriminate and impractical demands or directions under RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information (unrelated to transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities and eradication of corruption) would be counter-productive as it will adversely affect the efficiency of the administration and result in the executive getting bogged down with the non-productive work of collecting and furnishing information. The Act should not be allowed to be misused or abused, to become a tool to obstruct the national development and integration, or to destroy the peace, tranquility and harmony among its citizens. Nor should it be converted into a tool of oppression or intimidation of honest officials striving to do their duty. The nation does not want a scenario where 75% of the staff of public authorities spends 75% of their time in collecting and furnishing information to applicants instead of discharging their regular duties. The threat of penalties under the RTI Act and the pressure of the authorities under the RTI Act should not lead to employees of a public authorities prioritising `information furnishing', at the cost of their normal and regular duties.”
The Commission advises the appellant to act as a responsible citizen and to use the rights given to him under the RTI Act with full responsibility in future so as not to overburden the public authority, third party and the Commission with frivolous and vexatious RTI applications which impinge on the scarce resources of the three organizations. He is also warned to be more careful in future failing which the Commission will be constrained to dismiss his applications without hearing on the grounds of being vexatious and repetitive and with motivated intention. In view of the above, the appeals are dismissed.
Citation: Shri Surajmal v. South Delhi Municipal Corp. Delhi in F.No. CIC/DS/A/2013/001610-YA F.No. CIC/DS/A/2013/001611-YA