CIC: PIO should have inferred that the information sought pertain to the demonetized currency notes; In case the information sought for was not clear, PIO should have sought clarification from the appellant - CIC: PIO counselled to be careful in future
O R D E R
1. The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), State Bank of India (formerly State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur), Main Branch, Churu, Rajasthan seeking information on seven points pertaining to demonetization, including inter-alia,
(i) the total number of old currency notes exchanged with the new currency notes by the Branch on 11.11.2016, and
(ii) the total number and identity proof (Aadhar no., PAN, Driving Licence, etc.) of the customers whose notes were exchanged by the Branch on 11.11.2016.
2. The appellant filed a second appeal before the Commission on the grounds that misleading response has been given by the CPIO stating that the information sought is not specific. The appellant requested the Commission to direct the CPIO to provide point-wise information sought for and to impose a penalty upon the CPIO.
3. The appellant was not present despite notice. The respondents, Shri Sohana Ram, AGM & CPIO, Shri Rajneesh Sood, Chief Manager, SBI Zonal Office, Jaipur and Shri Shiv Kr. Gupta, Chief Manager, State Bank of India (Formerly SBBJ), Regional Office, Churu, attended the hearing through video-conferencing.
4. The respondent submitted that there are number of cases where customers come to the Bank to exchange their old notes with the new notes. Hence, the CPIO presumed that the appellant had sought details of the old notes which are still in circulation and accepted as legal tender. The respondent further stated that no record is available with the Bank regarding the same. Hence, the appellant was informed that the information sought by him is not specific. The respondent tendered his unconditional apology for this lapse and requested the Commission to condone the same. The respondent, however, stated that he would provide the total amount exchanged by the Branch for the demonetized currency notes on 11.11.2016, 12.11.2016 and 13.11.2016
5. The Commission, after hearing the submissions of the respondent and perusing the records, observes that the CPIO should have inferred that the information sought pertain to the demonetized currency notes. Nonetheless, in case, he felt that the information sought for was not clear, he should have sought clarification from the appellant. The Commission takes a serious view of this lapse and counsels the CPIO to be more careful in future so that such lapses do not recur. The Commission further observes that the information sought by the appellant on point nos. 2, 4 and 6 of his RTI application pertains to personal information of third parties, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public interest and would cause an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the third parties. Hence, the disclosure of the information sought is exempted under Section 8(1)(j) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person. of the RTI Act. In view of the above, the Commission directs the respondent to provide the information sought on point nos. 1, 3, 5 and 7 of the RTI application to the appellant within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order under intimation to this Commission.
6. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of. 7. Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Pramod Kumar vs. State Bank of India in Decision No. CIC/SBBAJ/A/2017/122397 Dated 29.06.2018