Complete details of tender process for construction of four lane road on NH-15 was sought -CIC: Disclosure would harm the competitive position of a third party – CIC denied sample material used in the construction of NH-15 u/s 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act, 2005
1. Shri Kailash, the appellant, sought complete details of tender process for construction of four lane road on NH-15 stretching from Bikaner to Kolkata section and of Mega Highway from Kolkata to Falodi; certified copy of letter of award and the contract signed after completion of tender; details of administrative, technical and financial approval for the above stated process along with the level sheet and Detailed Project Report (DPR); details of traffic survey report for expansion of NH- 15; details of approved project map for construction of four lane and mega highway on NH-15; etc., through ten points.
2. The Nodal Officer, M/o Road Transport, transferred the appellant’s RTI application u/s 6(3) to GM(Coord), NHAI, New Delhi, for responding to the appellant, directly, as a part of the information sought under the RTI application pertained to them. The appellant, not having received any further response/information on his application from the CPIO concerned within the stipulated time period, approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA), with a request to provide the desired information/documents, free of cost. The FAA does not appear to have adjudicated in the matter. Aggrieved, the appellant came in appeal before the Commission stating that no response/information was given to his RTI application by the CPIO and the FAA till the date of filing of second appeal and that he was deliberately denied information and requested the Commission to direct the CPIO to provide the desired information/documents free of cost. In addition to the above, the appellant also sought necessary action against the CPIO and compensation for the mental agony caused to him.
3. The matter was heard by the Commission. The appellant stated that he had been provided most of the information in the form of CD by the PIO, PD PIU Bikaner vide reply dated 20.04.2017 but, incomplete information was provided to him as, he had not yet been given the samples for the material used in construction of NH-15 sought under point 10 of the RTI application along with the details of compensation paid for construction of the said National Highway under point 8.
4. The respondent, PIU Bikaner, stated that the appellant’s RTI application dated 19.05.2016 was received in their office through email dated 06.04.2017 from NHAI HQ and the PIO provided the available information/documents, as per the records, to the appellant in a CD, vide reply dated 20.04.2017, free of cost, while, part information on points 6, 8, 9 & 10 which pertained to Concessionaire had also been provided to him. The respondent from NHAI HQ further clarified regarding point 8 of the application that the said project was on “Build-Operate-Transfer” (BOT) basis and therefore, the compensation was paid by the Concessionaire and that NHAI had no information regarding the same. The respondents further informed that the appellant had directly approached the Commission in second appeal without approaching the FAA, otherwise information would have been provided to him before. Additionally, no information could be provided to the appellant relating to sample materials used for construction under point 10.
5. On hearing both the parties and perusing the available records, the Commission observes that the PIO, PD PIU Bikaner (NHAI) has provided the available information, as per the records, to the appellant. Further, the respondent authority did not ask for any charges from the appellant for providing the information under the RTI Act, 2005 and gave the CD free of cost. The Commission also observes that the appellant had sought sample material used in the construction of NH-15 under point 10 which may include commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party and is exempt u/s 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, 2005 and moreover, the appellant also did not establish involvement of any larger public interest in the matter. No further intervention is, therefore, called for on the Commission’s part in the matter. The appeal is disposed of.
Citation: Shri Kailash v. National Highways Authority of India in Appeal No. CIC/NHAIN/A/2016/303626/MP, Date of Decision : October 31, 2017