Details of payment for work done by appellant on a CSR project was denied u/s 8(1)(d) stating that the matter is pending before an Arbitrator - CIC: the arbitrator is an officer of the public authority & is not appointed by Court, provide the information
1. These files contain appeals in respect of the RTI applications dated 6.9.2013 and 10.9.2013 filed by the Appellant, seeking information on various issues. Not satisfied with the response of the Respondents, he has approached the CIC in second appeal in both the cases.
2. With regard to the RTI application dated 6.9.2013 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001513), we note that another appeal concerning it was disposed of vide our order dated 12.1.2015 on File No. CIC/SH/C/2014/900153. In view of the foregoing, the Appellant stated that his appeal on File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001513 may be closed.
3. With regard to the RTI application dated 10.9. 2013 (File No. CIC/SH/A/2014//000808), the Appellant stated that he was not satisfied with the CPIO’s reply to points No. 11, 12 and 13. Regarding points No. 11 and 13, he submitted that he had sought copies of notings in the files concerned on which the claim of OSERD was examined. However, the CPIO has stated that no such noting was prepared. Regarding point No. 12, he stated that only the last pages of annexures 1 and 2, referred to in the CPIO’s reply dated 6.11.2013, have been provided. The remaining pages of the annexures have not been provided and in annexure 2, even the date on the last page has been blotted out. The Appellant prayed for provision of the above information to him. The Appellant also challenged the decision of the CPIO to invoke Section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act to deny the information in response to point No. 12. He stated that the payments claimed by him were not regarding a commercial deal, but the work done by him on a CSR project regarding HIV / AIDS awareness.
4. The Respondents submitted that the Appellant did some work for them in regard to CSR project and all the payments due were made to him. However, he claimed some additional payments and it was certified by the concerned officer that no further payments were due. Subsequently, a three member committee, constituted by the Respondents to look into the Appellant’s claim, also came to the same conclusion. The Respondents further submitted that the Appellant has filed seventeen RTI applications to get information concerning the matter, which is pending before an Arbitrator, who is an Executive Director of the Respondents, now on deputation to Prize Petroleum Corporation, a subsidiary of HPCL. According to the Respondents, only extracts of annexures 1 and 2 were provided in response to point No. 12 of the RTI application because they have the right to defend themselves in the arbitration proceedings. The Appellant submitted that the last hearing of the arbitration process took place on 18.4.2015 and the decision of arbitration is awaited. Therefore, the disclosure of the information sought by him will not impact the arbitration proceedings. In response to our query, the Respondents stated that the arbitrator had asked them to make their written submissions, which have already been filed. In response to a further query made by us, the Respondents stated that no court or tribunal has expressly forbidden disclosure of the information sought by the Appellant.
5. We have considered the records and the submissions made by both the parties before us. We note that the Respondents did not challenge the submission of the Appellant that the last hearing of the arbitration took place on 18.4.2015 and that decision of arbitration is awaited. We further note that the arbitrator is not an arbitrator appointed by a Court, but an officer of the public authority, now on deputation to their subsidiary and that no court or tribunal has expressly forbidden disclosure of the information sought by the Appellant. With regard to the notings sought by the Appellant at points No. 11 and 13 of his RTI application, the Respondents stated that they have no such notings, with the exception of annexures 1 and 2, mentioned in the CPIO’s reply dated 6.11.2013 in response to point No. 12 of the RTI application. We are of the view that the Appellant has the right to know the details of processing of the claims made by him. Therefore, we do not agree with the decision of the Respondents to deny complete copies of annexures 1 and 2 under Section 8 (1) (d) on the ground that the matter is before an arbitrator. Taking into account the factors mentioned above, we direct the CPIO to provide to the Appellant complete copies of annexures 1 and 2, mentioned in the CPIO’s response dated 6.11.2013 to point No. 12, within twenty days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission. The information should be provided free of cost.
6. With the above directions, the appeal on File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/000808 is disposed of. In view of what is stated in paragraph 2 above, the appeal on File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001513 is dismissed as withdrawn.
Citation: Shri S. Pankaj v. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd., in File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001513 File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/000808