CIC: It is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored & set aside without application of mind - CIC: The PIO & FAA to showcause why action should not be taken for misconduct & negligence; Conduct periodic RTI training & seminar
O R D E R
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information regarding the certified documents related to the action taken on his email dated 24.11.2012, etc.
The Divisional Manager, Amravati vide its letter dated 14.10.2014 informed the Appellant that subsequent to his transfer, all the information/documents relating to his salary and working details had been transferred to their Regional Office, Ahmedabad and the same had been communicated to him vide letters dated 24.07.2014 and 19.09.2014 through registered post. Dissatisfied by the response of the CPIO, the Appellant approached the FAA. The order of the FAA, if any, is not on the record of the Commission.
Facts emerging during the hearing:
The following were present:
Respondent: Mr. Mangesh Karanjka, Divisional Manager, Amravati Division (M: 09822726696/08411885829) and Mr. Prakash Bhatkar, A.M. (Legal) (M- 8411885851) through VC;
The Appellant remained absent during the hearing. Ms. Jyoti Sharma representative of NIC studio at Raipur confirmed his absence. The Respondent explained that all the documents pertaining to the service records of the Appellant had been transferred to the Regional Office, Ahemdabad soon after his transfer to the said office and therefore no records were available at their Amravati Branch office. It was further submitted that the CPIO vide its letter dated 14.10.2014 had suitably responded to the Appellant and informed him the same.
On a query from the Commission regarding the non-furnishing of any point wise response to the queries raised by the Appellant in his RTI application, the Respondent reiterated his afore-said explanation and could not substantiate or justify the reason for not providing the response as per the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. The Commission further noted that the First Appeal addressed to the FAA, National Insurance Co. Ltd., Nagpur on 25.10.2014 had also not been heard and decided by the concerned FAA and thus the FAA had also not acted in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005.
The Commission observed that there is complete negligence and laxity in the public authority in dealing with the RTI applications. It is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored and set aside without application of mind which reflects disrespect towards the RTI Act, 2005 itself. The Commission expressed its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the Respondent in responding to the RTI application. It was felt that the conduct of Respondent was against the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 which was enacted to ensure greater transparency and effective access to the information.
Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by the Respondent, it is evident that a suitable reply under the RTI Act, 2005 had not been provided by the CPIO in the matter, which is a grave violation of the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. The Commission instructs the CPIO and the FAA to showcause why action should not be taken under the provisions of the Act for this misconduct and negligence. The Commission also instructs Mr. Ajay Kumar Nikhale, FAA to explain why the First Appeal was not responded till date.
The Commission therefore, directs the Respondent to:
1- provide the information to the appellant within a period of 10 days;
2- explain why penal action should not be taken as per Section 20(1) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees: Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him: Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. of the RTI Act, 2005, within 15 days; from the date of receipt of this order.
The Commission moreover instructs the Respondent Public Authority to convene periodic conferences/seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.
The Appeal stands disposed with the above direction.
Citation: Mr. B L Gangwani v. National Insurance Company Limited in Appeal No.:-CIC/MP/A/2016/001574-BJ; Date of Decision : 06.07.2017