CIC: Section 4(1)(c) it deals with important polices & major decisions which affect public; it does not cover complaints regarding overcharging for LPG supplies - CIC: no direction u/s 19 or recommendation u/s 25(5) issued to BPCL
This matter pertains to an RTI application dated 5.6.2013 filed by the Appellant, seeking information under various points regarding price of domestic LPG and related issues. Not satisfied with the response of the Respondents, he filed second appeal dated 26.11.2013 to the CIC, which was received by the Commission on 2.12.2013.
2. We heard the submissions of the Appellant and the Respondents. The Appellant stated that information sought by him at point II (a) to (d) of his RTI application has not been provided. We note that at points II (a) to (c), he had sought information for the entire country, segregated for each state / union territory for the period 1.4.2010 to 5.6.2013. At point II (d), he had sought information for the same period for the State of Karnataka only. The Respondents submitted that the information sought at points II (a) to (c) would be too voluminous and difficult to compile. At points II (a) and (b), the Appellant has sought information regarding the total number of complaints received on BPCL website portal regarding overcharging and similar complaints received by phone or letter. At point II (c), the information sought is regarding the name and code of distributors found guilty as per the complaints received regarding overcharging. In this context, we note that when a complaint against a distributor is established through an enquiry and action is taken against that distributor, disclosure of information concerning the same would be a matter of larger public interest. However, at the same time, we observe that in these cases (points II ‘a’ to ‘c’), the information sought is for the entire country and in case, the Respondents do not keep it in the format demanded by the Appellant (i.e. segregated for each state and union territory and segregated only in respect of the complaints concerning overcharging), directing them to compile the information in this format may involve them in an extremely time consuming task, thereby diverting their resources from their day to day work. In view of the foregoing, we direct the CPIO to provide to the Appellant such information, as is available in a compiled form, in response to points II (a) to (c) of the RTI application. With regard to point II (d), the Respondents had initially denied the information under Section 8(1)(d) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the RTI Act. During the hearing, they submitted that the information sought by the Appellant in this case, even though for the state of Karnataka only, would also be too voluminous. However, if he wishes to inspect the relevant records concerning such investigations in respect of any particular agency, they would be willing to facilitate such an inspection. The CPIO is directed to facilitate such inspection in case the Appellant names any particular agency. The CPIO is further directed to comply with our above directives within thirty days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission. The information should be provided free of cost. Further, while providing the information / records for inspection, the CPIO is directed to ensure that personal information, such as personal address, Income Tax and Bank particulars etc. of the proprietors of gas agencies, is excluded.
3. In the course of the hearing, the Appellant also pleaded that the Commission give a direction under Section 19 or make a recommendation under Section 25(5) to the public authority regarding suomoto disclosure, on their website, of the information regarding complaints concerning overcharging and action thereon. He mentioned that queries on this issue were also raised in his RTI application dated 5.6.2013, filed to the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (appeal examined on File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/000067) and pleaded that similar direction / recommendation be also given to the Indian Oil Corporation Limited. In support of his above prayer, the Appellant referred to Section 4(1)(c) Every public authority shall publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public; Every public authority shall publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public; of the RTI Act which requires a public authority to publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public. A reading of Section 4(1)(c) Every public authority shall publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public; Every public authority shall publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public; makes it clear that it deals with important polices and major decisions which affect public. It does not cover the sort of complaints (regarding overcharging for LPG supplies), about which information has been sought by the Appellant. Therefore, while it would be desirable for the concerned public authorities to ensure transparency regarding action taken by them on various complaints received from LPG consumers, we would refrain from granting the above mentioned prayer of the Appellant regarding direction under Section 19 / recommendation under Section 25(5) to the public authorities.
4. With the above directions and observations, the appeal is disposed of.
5. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Melroy C.F. Fernandes v. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd., in File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/000069