A dealership agreement was signed in 2010, while the DM had ruled in 2005 that one of the certificates given regarding residence was false; It took four years for cancellation - CIC: Make a thorough search for the Marketing Plan 1987-88 & provide its copy
This matter, pertaining to an RTI application filed by the Appellant, seeking information on six points regarding the delay in termination of a dealership and some related issues, came up today.
Hearing on 1.2.2016
2. The Appellant stated that the Respondents had advertised a dealership in the year 2000 and he was one of the applicants. The person placed at number one in the selected panel had submitted a false certificate of residence. He (the Appellant) was placed at No. 2 in the panel. In 2002, he filed a complaint to the PMO and has followed it up with complaints at various levels. However, the dealership was awarded in the year 2010. The Appellant further submitted that the queries of his RTI application were made in the above context and he has not been provided any information, with the exception of only one point.
3. The Respondents stated that the Appellant was indeed placed at No. 2 in the panel. A letter of intent was given to the first panel list in the year 2002. However, the Appellant filed a number of complaints and also approached the High Court in 2004, 2007 and again in 2015. The first panel list had given two residence certificates, one from the circle officer and the other from the DM. In 2004, the High Court asked the DM to check and give a final ruling on the residence certificate issue. On 7.5.2005, the DM ruled that the certificate given from his office was false. In response to our query, the Respondents stated that the dealership agreement was signed in 2010 and after their vigilance department completed its enquiry, the dealership was terminated in 2013. However, in response to a further query by us, the Respondents were unable to explain as to how a dealership agreement was signed with the first panelist in 2010, while the DM had ruled in 2005 that one of the certificates given regarding residence was false. They were also unable to explain as to why in the face of the above ruling from DM in 2005, the dealership was cancelled only in 2013. The Respondents could also not give us any information regarding all the rulings given by the High Court and wanted some more time to make their submissions on the above issues.
4. In view of the foregoing, the matter is adjourned to be heard again on 9 th March 2016 at 10.00 a.m. through videoconferencing. The CPIO is directed to send his written submissions to the Commission, with a copy to the Appellant, explaining, in particular, the stand of the Respondents on the issues mentioned by us in the preceding paragraph and enclosing therewith copies of all the High Court decisions in the matter. The venue for videoconferencing for the hearing on 9.3.2016 will be the same as for the hearing today.
Hearing on 9.3.2016
5. The matter came up again on 9.3.2016. The Appellant reiterated his request for the information sought by him, while the Respondents gave us the sequence of events as per their records and stated that they had sent their written submissions dated 29.2.2016 to the Commission, with a copy to the Appellant. These submissions have been received and taken on record.
6. In the written submissions, the Respondents have stated that an advertisement was given by them on 1.9.2000 for development of SKO dealership at the location “Riga” under open category. On the basis of interviews conducted in October 2001, Shri Amrendra Dayal Singh was placed at No. 1 in the selected panel and the Appellant was placed at No. 2. An LOI was issued to Shri Amrendra Dayal Singh in January 2002 and subsequently the agency was commissioned on 3.8.2006. During the time of commissioning of this dealership, the location in question was under the jurisdiction of the Divisional Office at Begusarai. Subsequently, w.e.f. 2007, a new Divisional Office was created at Muzaffarpur. The Respondents have further stated: “While shifting of jurisdiction of the subject SKO dealership, due to oversight dealership agreement was not executed at that time and subsequently executed on 23.3.2010.” A complaint was made by the Appellant in January 2003, alleging that Shri Amrendra Dayal Singh was not a resident of the District and had submitted forged documents in support of his proof of residence. The complaint was investigated by a committee comprising two officers of the public authority, the allegations were not substantiated, leading to commissioning of the agency in August 2006. Subsequently, the Appellant obtained various documents concerning the address proof, submitted by Shri Amrendra Dayal Singh with his application, from the District authorities. Shri Amrendra Dayal Singh had submitted residence certificate No. 632 dated 28.9.2000, issued by the office of the Circle Officer, Sitamarhi with his application form. Subsequently, he submitted another residence certificate No. 1217 dated 20.12.2001, issued by SDO Sitamarhi Sadar, during the process of field investigations. On receipt of the complaint of the Appellant, the above mentioned two member committee of the Respondents examined the residence certificate No. 1217 and not the other certificate. In the meantime, the Appellant had filed a court case (CWJC 6279/2004) against selection of Shri Amrendra Dayal Singh. He had also filed a petition before the Collector, Sitamarhi to cancel the residential certificate. The Collector cancelled the residential certificate No. 1217 in May 2005 as it was obtained by providing wrong information. Shri Amrendra Dayal Singh filed a review petition before the Collector. Petition No. CWJC 6279/2004 was disposed of by the court in December 2006 by directing the Collector to dispose of the matter within two months. A petition of the Appellant challenging the above direction of the court was dismissed. In September 2008, the Collector accepted the residence certificate No. 1217 as valid. The Appellant filed another writ petition in Patna High Court against the order of the Collector as well as the selection of Shri Amrendra Dayal Singh. It was dismissed by the court in May 2010. The Appellant filed an LPA against the above order of the court that was also dismissed on the ground that the Appellant had withdrawn it. The Appellant had earlier lodged a complaint with the Vigilance Department of the Respondents in November 2009. During the investigations of the Vigilance Department, it was found that the residence certificate No. 632 was not issued by SDO Sitamarhi. Therefore, the subject dealership was terminated in December 2013. After cancellation of the dealership, the Appellant has been pursuing the matter of award of the dealership to him as No. 2 candidate in the panel. However, he has been informed that as per clause 4.15 of Procedure for Selection of Dealers / Distributors 9th October, 2000, the validity of a panel ceases to exist once the concerned dealership / distributorship is commissioned.
7. We have considered the submissions of both the parties. A reading of the information provided by the Respondents in their written submissions dated 29.2.2016 (mentioned in the preceding paragraph) clearly indicates that the processing of the entire matter concerning the dealership was done in a less than satisfactory manner. The dealership was commissioned in 2006, even though an address given by the selected candidate was subsequently found to be not correct. Further, the dealership agreement was executed only in 2010. The Appellant filed a complaint to the Vigilance Department of the Respondents in November 2009 and it took them over four years to come to the conclusion that an address given by the selected candidate was false. Therefore, the dealership was cancelled only in December 2013. Further, even though, as is evident from the above, the dealership was awarded on the basis of non verification of the information, submitted by the selected candidate, in a proper manner, the fact of its award is now being used to deny the dealership to the Appellant, who was No. 2 in the panel, on the ground that the panel remained valid only till the award of the dealership. The Commission, however, is not competent to address the above issues under the RTI Act. Further, the matter appears to have gone repeatedly before courts. Therefore, we would confine ourselves to the aspect of the information sought by the Appellant in his RTI application. In so far as the aspect of award of dealership to the Appellant as No. 2 candidate in the panel is concerned, he is at liberty to pursue the matter in an appropriate forum.
8. At point No. 1 of the RTI application, the Appellant had sought information regarding the position concerning award of dealership in such cases to the No. 2 candidate as per the Marketing Plan 1987-88. The CPIO instead referred to the procedure for selection of 9.10.2000 and stated that the Marketing Plan 1987-88 was not available on records. The CPIO is directed to make a thorough search for the above plan of 1987-88 and provide its copy to the Appellant, in case it is traced out as a result of a renewed search. If it is the stand of the CPIO that a renewed search has also failed to trace out the 1987-88 plan in any of the offices of the Respondents, he should file a sworn affidavit to that effect to the Commission, with a copy to the Appellant. In points No. 2, 3 and 6, the Appellant’s queries are in the nature of seeking an explanation / opinion from the CPIO and such queries do not fall within the ambit of information as defined in Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act. With regard to the queries at points No. 4 and 5 of the RTI application, the CPIO is directed to provide such information as is available in a compiled form.
9. The CPIO should comply with our above directives, within thirty days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission. Such information, as is provided, should be provided free of charge.
10. With the above directions and observations, the appeal is disposed of.
11. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Ganesh Chaudhary v. Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., in File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/002986