Evaluated answer sheets were denied - PIO pleaded that the SC decision in this regard was not known to her - CIC: lack of knowledge of the law cannot be cited as plea for denying information; penalty of Rs. 25,000/- imposed on PIO
1. Further to Commission’s order of even number dated 15 October 2013, matter was heard again today pertaining to show cause notice issued to the former Chief manager, head office, Ms Meenakshi Talwar. The said officer appeared before the Commission and also submitted written submission. Respondent stated that in respect of the RTI application dated 20 October 2011 preferred by the appellant, she had provided information to the appellant on 20 December 2012 in respect of all other points except for the evaluated answer sheets which was sought by him. In denying this information, respondent submitted that she had relied on a previous judgment of the Commission no. CIC/DS/A/of 2010/000290 dated 11 October 2010 which stated that the Insurance Institute of India has been exempted from providing copies of evaluated answer sheets to the appellant which was forwarded to their office by GIPSA. She also regretted the fact that the decision of the Supreme Court of India in the matter of CBSE Vs Aditya Bandhopadhyaya dated 9 August 2011 was not known to her and that she had also not received any revised advice from GIPSA. Ms Talwar also submitted that in all subsequent cases, disclosure of answer sheets has been done and that there was no malafide intention on her part to withhold the requested information.
2. After hearing the averments of the respondent, Ms Meenakshi Talwar, Commission has not found her explanation to be credible. Lack of knowledge of the law cannot be cited as plea for having denied information. The RTI application was received on 20 October 2011 and disposed of by Ms Meenakshi Talwar on 20 December 2011. The Supreme Court decision referred to above was announced on 9 August 2011 and was widely publicized. It was the responsibility of her organization to have circulated this important decision of the apex court to the CPIOs/holders of information. Denial of information to the appellant resulted in the destruction of the requested information as the holding authority was not alerted regarding the pendency of the matter before the public authority and the Commission. Accordingly, Commission imposes a penalty of Rs. 25,000/– on the former Chief Manager, Ms Meenakshi Talwar as per the provisions of section 20 (1) of the Act. This amount will be deducted from her salary in five equal installments @ Rs. 5,000/pm. The Appellate Authority is directed to recover the amount of Rs. 25,000/from the salary of Ms Meenakshi Talwar, Chief Manager/CPIO and remit the same by a demand draft or a Banker’s cheque in the name of the Pay & Accounts Officer, CAT, payable at New Delhi and send the same to Shri Pankaj K.P. Shreyaskar, Director and Joint Registrar of the Central Information Commission, 2nd. Floor, August Kranti Bhawan, New Delhi110066. The amount may be deducted at the rate of Rs. 5000/per month every month from the salary of the CPIO and remitted by the 10th of every month starting from December, 2013. The total amount of Rs. 25,000/- will be remitted by 10th of May,2014.
(Smt. Deepak Sandhu)
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Shri S.V. Srinivasa Rakhavan v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., in Adjunct II Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2012/002132