Details of transfer & pending cases were denied stating they are not available in compiled form - CIC: establish adequate infrastructure in terms of computers & manpower to compile and place the sought information on the housing board website
Details of transfer & pending cases since 2005 under GPA/SUB GPA were denied stating they are not available in compiled form - Appellant: policy benefits were extended in arbitrary fashion showing lack of transparency in the exercise of PA’s powers - CIC: establish adequate infrastructure in terms of computers and manpower to compile and place the sought information on the website of Chandigarh housing board
1. Appellant submitted RTI application dated 17 June 2013 before the CPIO, Chandigarh Housing Board, Chandigarh seeking details of the Transfer cases and Pending cases since 2005 under GPA/SUB GPA.
2. Vide Order dated 4 July 2013, CPIO informed the Appellant that information sought is not specific in nature and is not available in the compiled form. CPIO further offered an opportunity for inspection.
3. Appellant preferred first Appeal dated 2 August 2013 to the First Appellate Authority.
4. Vide Order dated 21 August 2013, FAA upheld the CPIO’s Order.
5. Being aggrieved and not being satisfied by the above response of the public authority, the appellant preferred second appeal before the Commission.
6. Matter was heard today.
7. Both sides have presented their arguments. Appellant pleaded for disclosure of this information in the larger public interest as he has alleged that the policy benefits were extended in a most arbitrary fashion through pick and chose action and that those who were left out were not given any reasons for having been denied the benefits that were extended to other applicants who had applied along side with them thereby putting them unfairly to great disadvantage. This lack of transparency by the Public Authority in the exercise of its powers, it was argued is contrary to the letter and spirit of the RTI Act and breeds corruption. Commission shares the view that transparency is an essential ingredient for good governance. Decisions of the Public Authorities are required to be taken in the larger public interest and must be uniformly administered in a transparent manner. The present case defies these principles and is couched in the dark shade of secrecy. Therefore, as per the provisions of the section 8(2) Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923) nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests. of the Act, Commission determines that in this case, the disclosure of information outweighs all arguments made in favour of disproportionate diversion of the scarce resources of the Public Authority and under the provisions of section 19(8)(a)(iii) requires the Public Authority through the Chairman, Chandigarh Housing Board to establish adequate infrastructure in terms of computers and manpower so that the information sought by the appellant in his RTI application of 17.6.2013 is compiled and placed on the official website of the CHB before 15.6.2014. Commission has given adequate time for completing this exercise as we accept the contention of the respondents that the information sought is maintained in many separate files and will have to be compiled and collated. Commission will review the compliance of the directions held herein above at a later date which will be intimated separately.
(Smt. Deepak Sandhu)
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Shri Gurdev Singh v. Chandigarh Housing Board in Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2013/001907