CIC: As the Respondents have already offered inspection of all the relevant documents regarding the LPG dealership in question, we would not like to burden the public authority with the task of responding to multiple RTI applications on the same issue
This matter pertains to an RTI application dated 20.4.2013 filed by the Appellant, seeking information on eight points regarding Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG dealership allotment at all the 122 locations of the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) in Bihar, based on a public notice issued in newspapers on 28.2.2011. Not satisfied with the response of the Respondents, he approached the CIC in second appeal on 14.8.2013. 2. We heard the submissions of the Appellant and the Respondents. The Appellant submitted that the CPIO did not respond to his RTI application within the timeframe stipulated in the RTI Act. In this context, he stated that the CPIO’s reply was sent to him on 11.6.2013 and was received by him on 14.6.2013. He pleaded for disciplinary action against the CPIO under Section 20 (2) of the RTI Act. The Appellant further stated that he had sought information regarding 122 locations, but in his reply, the CPIO had offered to provide information in respect of 37 locations only. He pleaded that the information regarding the remaining locations should be provided to him free of cost. The Appellant also submitted that the information sought by him cannot be denied only on the ground that it is voluminous.
3. The Respondents drew the attention of the Commission to the order dated CIC/LS/A/2013/001768/SH dated 11.8.2014 on another appeal of the same Appellant concerning his RTI application dated 21.6.2013, in which he had sought certain information regarding the same 122 locations concerning Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG dealership allotment in Bihar, based on a public notice issued in newspapers on 28.2.2011. They submitted that in keeping with the above order of the Commission, they had written to the Appellant that they would allow him inspection of the relevant documents without charging any fee for inspection. However, the Appellant has not carried out the inspection so far. The Respondents further submitted that the Appellant has filed multiple RTI applications on the same issue in spite of their having provided a good deal of information to him and their offer for inspection of the relevant documents. They stated that his applications are vexatious and, in this context, quoted the Commission’s order No. CIC/AD/A/2013/001046SA dated 20.6.2014.
4. We have examined the submissions made by both the parties. From the Commission’s order No. CIC/LS/A/2013/001768/SH dated 11.8.2014, we note the submission made by the Respondents that the Appellant’s application for a dealership was not successful and he has been filing a number of RTI applications asking for a good deal of information on the same issue. We also note that the information, though voluminous, has not been denied by the Respondents. Instead, they have asked the Appellant to inspect all the relevant documents. In keeping with the Commission’s order dated 11.8.2014, they have also informed him that he will not be required to pay any inspection fee. In response to our query, the Respondents confirmed that the information in respect of all the 122 locations, sought in the Appellant’s RTI application dated 20.4.2013, will be part of the relevant documents offered for inspection. For reasons not explained to the Commission, the Appellant has chosen not to carry out the inspection and has been seeking information on the same issue through various RTI applications. In the above context, we also note the following observations of the Supreme Court in Central Board of Secondary Education and Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors.:“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 counterproductive as it will adversely affect the efficiency of the administration and result in the executive getting bogged down with the nonproductive 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 public authorities prioritising ‘information furnishing’, at the cost of their normal and regular duties.”
5. Taking into account the fact that the Respondents have already offered inspection of all the relevant documents regarding the dealership in question, we would not like to burden the public authority with the task of responding to multiple RTI applications on the same issue. Further, considering the totality of the facts of this case, we also do not see it as a fit case for recommendation of disciplinary action against the CPIO, as demanded by the Appellant.
6. In view of the foregoing, the appeal is dismissed.
7. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Ravindra Kumar Singh v. Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., in File No. CIC/LS/A/2013/001628/SH