CIC withdraws its previous order under RTI Act granting compensation to appellant
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) seeking information regarding award of some works to a particular company by the Zonal Engineer (Electricity). She wanted to know whether the work against the said order was carried out and completed on time, whether the required bills have been issued by the accounts deparment in its usual time, whether the above said bills have been submitted to Account Section in time etc. She also wanted to know whether payments have been made to the firm and the reasons if no payments were made. In addition, she wanted to know as to what action was taken by E.E. 4th Division thereafter for payment of said bills. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed the appellant that information cannot be given because proper reference of the work carried out is not given in RTI application. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) ordered an inspection of records to be conducted at the office of the PIO.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant stated that he and his wife both are handicapped and find it difficult to move from place to place still he went to the office of the PIO but was not given inspection of the records. He stated that he has visited the office of the PIO five times but the records have not been shown to him. He further stated that he met Executive Engineer (Electrical) Shahdara North on all the five times but was told to come some other time but inspection of the records was never offered to him. The Commission noted that inspection has not been given to the appellant and he is pursuing the matter since he claims he has not been paid for certain jobs that he has done for MCD and the records exist for these. Under section 19(8)(b) In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered; of the RTI Act, the Commission awarded a compensation of Rs. 5000/- to the appellant for the loss and detriment suffered by him in traveling five times for inspection and pursuing this appeal and getting the information late. The Commission directed the PIO to facilitate an inspection of the records by the appellant and give attested photocopies of records which the appellant wants free of cost upto 300 pages. 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, the Commission issued a show cause notice to the PIO to give his reasons to the Commission to show- cause why penalty should not be levied on him.
During the second hearing before the Commission the PIO gave a written submission stating that he did not receive the notice of hearing sent by the Commission and hence could not attend the hearing. He also stated that the appellant was given an inspection of the relevant records but no relevant records could be identified. As per the directions of the Commission, he has again given an inspection of all the relevant records to the appellant and six records were identified which have been given to him. The respondent pointed out that the records related to the year 2000 and such records are not preserved in one place and have been shifted multiple times. The respondent requested the Commission to withdraw the compensation order for Rs. 5000/-.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) noted that the respondent could not appear for the hearing since he could not get the intimation and the appellant’s contentions may not have been completely right. The Commission observed that they do not have the jurisdiction over the non- payment of bills to the appellant. Holding that the information available has been provided to the appellant after due inspection, the Commission withdrew the compensation order and also dropped the penalty proceedings against the PIO stating that there were some factual misrepresentations in the earlier hearing.
Citation: Smt. Sunita Arora v Municipal Corporation of Delhi in Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2012/001176/19085Adjunct
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/642
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission