Disciplinary action to be taken against PIO for willful acts of commission and omission
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) seeking some information. On not receiving the information, he filed the first appeal and subsequently the second appeal with the Central Information Commission (CIC). The CIC directed the concerned Public Information Officer (PIO) to provide the information and also issued a show cause notice to the PIO for not providing the information in time.
During the show cause hearing, the PIO claimed that the original RTI application never reached him and that he came to know about it only after the First Appellate Authority (FAA) sent him a copy of the RTI application along with his order. He also submitted that after receiving the application he had searched for the information stored in the strong room of the SSC and after accessing the information he had provided it to the appellant. The PIO further stated that the FAA had forwarded several queries contained in the RTI application to the other office located in Chandigarh since the matter concerned that regional office but the officer concerned in that office took more than 4 months to write to the appellant. The concerned officer at Chandigarh, explained that did not received the RTI application from the FAA and he came to know about the application only when he received a reminder from the FAA.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the explanation provided by the officer at Chandigarh appears to be an afterthought. It is most unlikely that neither the RTI application nor the order of the FAA forwarding therewith a copy of that application reached the Chandigarh office. The officer concerned is trying to use a clever ploy to avoid the imposition of any penalty by disowning the receipt of the RTI application itself in any manner. The CIC also stated that the communication received from the FAA might have been deliberately misplaced or destroyed to remove any trace of it and such a thing is reprehensible and goes completely against the spirit of the RTI Act. Under section 20(2) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause and persistently, failed to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall recommend for disciplinary action against the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, under the service rules applicable to him. of the RTI Act, the Commission directed the Chairman of the SSC to institute disciplinary action against the PIO concerned in the Chandigarh office of the SSC for willful acts of commission and omission in the case. The CIC further held that the appellant was deprived of the information for a very long period of time because of complete inaction on the part of the PIO both in the headquarters of the SSC as also in the Chandigarh office. Under section19 (8)(b) of the RTI Act, the CIC also awarded a compensation of Rs. 10,000/- to the appellant for the detriment and harassment caused to him in the process.
Citation: Mr. Ajai Pal v. Staff Selection Commission in File No.CIC/SM/A/2012/001061
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1287
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission