CIC: Some of the interim orders of the FAA are strange which are totally not envisaged by the RTI Act - CIC: Show Cause issued to the FAA why disciplinary action cannot be recommended against him & why compensation of Rs 1,000 be not paid to the appellant
CIC observed that some of the interim orders of the first appellate authority (FAA) are strange which are totally not envisaged by the RTI Act. They will cause serious obstruction to the process of furnishing information according to the RTI Act. The FAA has not applied mind to the facts, law and the circumstances of the cases before him and went on hearing of the first appeal for long following a very elaborate and unnecessary exercise on trivial matters without any purpose, because of which furnishing of information was totally obstructed and the vague order of the FAA without prescribing the time limit, left the CPIO confused. CIC: Show Cause issued to the FAA why he passed such illegal order, why he spent so much of time without hearing the appeal and why insisted on the personal presence of appellant and presentation of affidavits. CIC directed FAA to show cause why disciplinary action cannot be recommended against him and why an amount of compensation of Rs 1,000 be ordered to be paid by the public authority for the harassment caused to the appellant due to illegal orders passed by the FAA
i. Complete information together with all related file noting/ correspondence /documents etc on selection/appointment etc of present NGT Chairperson mentioning also respective dates of his
(b) appointment and
(c) taking charge on NGT Chairperson.
ii. Complete information on rules for making appointments at NGT.
iii. Complete information on staff provided to NGT Chairperson at his residence mentioning also employees made available in different grades & designations.
iv. Complete information on personal staff etc.
Ground of Complaint:
2. Non furnishing of information within prescribed time.
Proceedings Before the Commission:
3. Both parties made their submissions. CPIO stated that the reply on point No. 3 already prepared and ready to despatch. He further submitted that regarding point No. 1, the RTI was transferred to Ministry of Environment and Forest. Regarding point No. 2 to 17, he mentioned that the information was dispatched on 04.02.2015.
4. The complainant submitted that the FAA has passed several interim orders which are against the letter and spirit of RTI Act and has caused serious harassment of the RTI applicants. In the first interim order, the FAA dated 15-7-2014 insisted that the appellant to personally come and prove the originality of RTI application, the genuineness of certain facts and clearance of suspicion, if any, and also issued a notice to appear in person. This is against the provisions of RTI Act. In another interim order dated 30-7-2014, FAA wanted the information seeker to explain about RTI applications, number of envelops, postal orders and their genuineness, etc and insisted on personal presence of the information seeker. In this order FAA also wanted the Information seeker to file affidavit duly verified and attested by the competent authority mentioning all the facts. By the order dated 5-8-2014, the FAA again insisted the personal presence of the appellant and the affidavit by him. In the final order made on 3-9-2014, Mr. Sanjay Kumar, First Appellate Authority has observed that only one original envelope was available, while there are 5 RTI applications received with that envelope.
5. It was also observed that accounts section did not encash one postal order till 9-7-2014 and another postal order till 27-6-2014. FAA observed that CPIO failed to furnish the plausible and jusfiable reasons for not providing information within the period. His approach is not as required by the RTI Act and rules. While the CPIO gave replies to 150 RTI applications, he does not explain why the appellant did not get the reply. FAA expressed astonishment at the attitude of the CPIO who did not preserve the original envelops and did not encash the postal orders immediately. He also mentioned that the appellant was specially treated by the CPIO which is disadvantageous to the NGT. FAA also noticed that in December, 2013, similar conduct and approach was adopted by the CPIO. FAA reiterated that the CPIO has miserably failed in his statutory duties and did not provide information to the appellant within the legally prescribed period and thus the appeal was allowed and the CPIO was directed to supply the information without mentioning the legally prescribed period within which information has to be given. The appellant objected to the way the FAA dealt his first appeal with several interim orders, which are not in tune with the RTI Act and the way in which the order mentioned “legally prescribed period” without indicating a definite period within which the CPIO has been directed to furnish the information.
6. After reading the orders of First Appellate Authority the Commission finds that there is substance in the complaint. Some of the aspects of the interim orders of the FAA are, in fact, funny and strange which are totally not envisaged by the RTI Act. They will cause serious obstruction to the process of furnishing information according to the RTI Act. It will also have adverse effect of scaring away the information seekers. The Commission also observes that the FAA Shri Sanjay Kumar has not applied mind to the facts, law and the circumstances of the cases before him and went on hearing of the first appeal for long following a very elaborate and unnecessary exercise on trivial matters without any purpose, because of which furnishing of information was totally obstructed and the vague order of the FAA without prescribing the time limit, left the CPIO confused. It is surprising to note that FAA who is the seniormost officer of the Public Authority came down heavily on his subordinate CPIO.
7. The Commission holds that the orders passed by Mr Sanjay Kumar in his capacity as First Appellate Authority, are illegal, not in accordance with provisions of RTI Act, and resulted in obstruction of process of furnishing information.
8. Hence the Commission prefers to direct him to Show Cause why he passed such illegal order, why he spent so much of time without hearing the appeal, within the time prescribed by the RTI Act and why insisted on the personal presence and presentation of affidavits. Commission directs Mr Sanjay Kumar to show cause why disciplinary action cannot be recommended against him and why an amount of compensation of Rs 1,000 be ordered to be paid by the public authority for the harassment caused to the appellant/complainant in this case due to illegal orders passed by the first appellate authority. His explanation should reach the Commission within 3 weeks from the date of receipt of this order.
9. In view of the above the complaint is closed. The case is posted for compliance on 21.04.2015 at 2:20 pm
(M. Sridhar Acharyulu)
Citation: Mr S.C Agrawal v National Green Tribunal in Case No. CIC/SA/C/2014/000363