CIC: It is the PIO’s responsibility to provide the information to the appellant; PIO cannot act as a Postmaster transferring RTI applications to subordinates & forwarding information received by them to the appellant - CIC: penalty of Rs 10,000 imposed
Show Cause Hearing u/s 20 (1) of the RTI Act
The Commission vide order dated 18.11.2014, issued a show cause notice to then CPIO & EE (B)/CLZ North Delhi Municipal Corporation, for deliberately not providing information to the appellant. The said show cause notice was served to then CPIO, Shri Kapil Gupta, EE(Civil) by EE (B)-II vide letter dated 16.12.2014, to file his written submission and to attend the hearing before the Commission on 07.01.2015.
Shri Kapil Gupta submitted that the RTI application of the appellant was forwarded to Shri Anil Agarwal, APIO/AE(B)/CLZ, who further marked it to Shri Manoj Rana, JE (B), incharge of the area. The JE(B)/AE(B) submitted the reply to the said RTI, in which they informed that no such information is available in a compiled form and applicant may inspect the relevant document within 7 days of the receipt of the letter. Accordingly, Shri Kapil Gupta provided the above information received from AE(B). Since the AE(B)/JE(B) are the custodian of information regarding their respective areas, hence whatever information was furnished by them could be provided to the appellant. On a query by the Commission if there was any need of inspection to provide the information or information was voluminous in nature, Shri Gupta failed to answer the same.
The Commission notes with concern that the RTI application has been dealt with in a most negligent manner. The CPIO Shri Kapil Gupta did not bother to see what the information the AE/JE has supplied. It is the responsibility of the CPIO to provide the information to the appellant. He cannot escape his responsibility by merely transferring the RTI application u/s 5(4) of the RTI Act, 2005. The CPIO cannot act as a Postmaster transferring RTI applications to subordinates and forwarding information received by them to the appellant. In the instant case, information sought by the appellant could have been provided at the first instance only but was provided after a lapse of one year.
In view of the above, the Commission imposes a penalty of Rs 10,000 (rupees ten thousand only) u/s 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. on Shri Shri Kapil Gupta, EE(M-III) Rohini Zone, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, for not furnishing information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of Section 7 without any reasonable cause.
This amount will be deducted from the salary of the Shri Shri Kapil Gupta, EE(M-III) Rohini Zone, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, in two equal instalments @ Rs. 5000/- per month starting from March 2015. The total amount of Rs. 10,000/- will be remitted by May 2015. The Superintendent Engineer, FAA, Rohini Zone, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, is directed to recover the amount of Rs. 10,000/- from the salary of Shri Gupta and remit the same through a Demand Draft or a Banker’s Cheque in favour of Pay & Accounts Officer, CAT, payable at New Delhi and send the same to Shri Shanti Priye Beck, Joint Secretary (Admn.), Central Information Commission, Room No. 302, 2nd Floor, August Kranti Bhawan, New Delhi – 110066.
Citation: Shri Dheeraj Gupta v. North Delhi Municipal Corp., in F.No. CIC/YA/A/2014/000046