CIC reprimands Delhi police for obstructing information under RTI
An application was filed with the Delhi Police under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking answers to 14 queries regarding social activist Anna Hazare's agitation for Jan Lokpal Bill in Delhi.
The reply to the application, provided by the then public information officer (PIO) of Police Headquarters, stated that the RTI application was being forwarded to PIOs of different sub-departments viz. crime, west district, east district, north-west district and north district. However, as the RTI applicant received answers to only four of 14 questions, he approached the Central Information Commission (CIC).
During the hearing, the PIOs from different sections stated that the first three questions and the last seven question in the application pertained to the headquarters and were wrongly transferred to them. The CIC, in its judgment, held that the PIO had obstructed the information by transferring the whole application to other sections without even reading it and asked the PIO to answer the remaining questions within three weeks.
Charging the ex-PIO and the present PIO of negligence, the CIC also issued show cause notices to them asking as to why penalty should not be imposed on them under 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.