Disciplinary action against the PIO of a schedule II organisation
The appellant sought certain information relating to seizure and release of jewelry of her late mother in a raid on Chairman of Simplex Concrete Piles Ltd, such as, the details of jewelry seized, what was their measurement, when they were released and to whom they were released. The appellant also wanted the copies of relevant documents in relation to the release and handing over of jewelry. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed the appellant that the DG IT (Investigation) is an organization listed in schedule II as per the section 24 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and is beyond the purview of the RTI Act. As such, the information cannot be provided. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) issued a notice under section 11(1) Where a Central Public Information Officer or a State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose any information or record, or part thereof on a request made under this Act, which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall, within five days from the receipt of the request, give a written notice to such third party of the request and of the fact that the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose the information or record, or part thereof, and invite the third party to make a submission in writing or orally, regarding whether the information should be disclosed, and such submission of the third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information: to the Chairman of Simplex Concrete Piles Ltd seeking his views if he had any objection against the disclosure of information about the seized jewelries to the appellant. In response to the notice the Chairman conveyed his objections to sharing information pertaining to the third party. The appellant submitted a petition to the FAA in which she clarified that the information sought under the RTI Act was not about the entire outcome of the said search and seizure action conducted by the department or about the wealth of the Chairman instead she was only interested in information about her mother’s own jewellery which was seized in that search action. The FAA directed the PIO to furnish the information regarding the jewelry of the mother of the applicant.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant submitted that in compliance to the FAA’s order, she received a reply from the PIO after a gap of four months. The PIO informed that they did not have any information relating to seizure of jewelry pertaining to her late mother. She also submitted that there has been inordinate delay in response of the PIO and she should be paid compensation for the mental stress which she had to undergo for such a long period. She also made a demand for inspection of records relating to the seizure, alleging that there was something amiss.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) noted that the DG (Investigation) is an exempt organization under section 24 of the RTI Act and the inspection of records as sought by the appellant could not be permitted. The Commission agreed with the appellant that there has been considerable delay on part of the PIO in carrying out the directions of the FAA. The Commission directed the FAA to look into the inordinate delay on the part of the PIO and to take appropriate disciplinary action against the official if he is found to have been remiss.
In respect of organisations which are beyond the purview of the RTI Act, the PIO is expected to respond to all the RTI applications and reply to them within the prescribed time limit. The orders of the FAA should be complied with unless an appeal has been filed against it.
Citation: Mrs. Kapila Sharda v. Directorate of Income Tax, in File No.CIC/DS/A/2011/002268/RM
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/614
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