FAA: the amount of Central Excise Duty refund given under the Area based exemption Notifications does not fall in the category of commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property nor is fiduciary information - CIC: order of FAA upheld
1. Vide RTI application dated 20.09.2011 the appellant has sought information on issue as contained in her RTI Application
2. CPIO reply dated 29.09.2011 & 28.10.2011, has provided the information to the appellant.
3. The first appeal is not on record.
4. Vide Order dated 15.12.2011; FAA directed to CPIO to provide the information to the appellant.
5. Grounds for the Second Appeal filed on 14.01.2012 are contained in the Memorandum of appeal.
Appellant opted to be absent despite of our due notice to him. Respondents appeared before the Commission personally and made the submissions at length
During the hearing of the appeal, it is submitted by the respondents that they have provided the complete information to the appellant as per her RTI application dated 20.09.2011 on the basis of their reply dated 28.10.2011. It is to be seen here that the appellant vide his RTI Application (supra), asked information from the respondents on two issues as contained therein. The issues were examined in the office of the respondents and it was found that the issues raised therein relates to the third party. As such, the respondent’s vide letter dated 29.09.2011 sought the comments of third party. On this very aspect, a letter dated 03.10.2011, was received from Guwahati Carbon Ltd, (third party) addressed to CPIO (Sh. P K Das, Dy. Comm.) – O/o ACEC, GS Road, Bhangagarh, Guwahati, stating thereby that they are governed by the notification 32/99CE dated 08.07.1999. It is further stated therein that they have the strong objection in providing the required information to the appellant in respect of issue no. 1. On being queried by the Commission, it is submitted by Ms. Babneet Tuli, CPIO, that in respect of issue no. 2 of the RTI Application dated 20.09.2011, respondents vide their same letter dated 29.09.2011, asked the comments from the third party. Even on this aspect, it is submitted by Ms. Tuli that vide paragraph 1(5) of their letter dated 28.10.2011, it is stated therein that M/s India Carbon Ltd, vide their letter dated 19.10.2011, also requested not to disclose any information to any applicant under Section 11(2) of the RTI Act 2005. Being aggrieved by the aforesaid responses, FA was filed by the appellant before the FAA, who vide his order dated 15.12.2011, directed the CPIO/DC Guwahati, Central Excise Division, to provide the information within 30 days from the date of receipt of the order. Ms. Tuli was again queried by the Commission, as to whether the order of the FAA was complied with or not. She replied in negative. Hence, a Second Appeal before this Commission. It is pointed out by Ms Tuli, CPIO, present before the Commission that the appellant before the Commission is the third party. After careful perusal of the case-file, the Commission finds the same thing and hereby agreed with the statement of Ms. Tuli. She further submitted that FAA’s order dated 15.12.2011, was not complied with by virtue of the position as highlighted here in above i.e. by approaching third party to the Central Commission by filing Second Appeal. In view of the factual position above, it is amply clear that third party i.e M/s Guwahati Carbon Ltd, Boragaon, Gorchuk Guwahati- 35, has filed the Second Appeal under Section 19(3) A second appeal against the decision under sub-section (1) shall lie within ninety days from the date on which the decision should have been made or was actually received, with the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission: Provided that the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of ninety days if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time. of the RTI Act 2005 against the order of FAA dated 15.12.2011. As per section 19 (1) any person aggrieved by decision of CPIO or state PIO may file the appeal before the First Appellate Authority and against the order of FAA Second Appeal is to be filed under section 19 (3) of the RTI Act 2005. In view of this, the third party aggrieved with the order of FAA may even file the Second Appeal under Section 19 (3) of the RTI Act 2005 before the Commission. Thus, there is no illegality in the present Second Appeal before this Commission. It is pertinent to mention here that FAA vide his order (supra) clearly mentioned in Para 2 under the head of discussion and finding as under: “I find that the information sought by the appellant relates to the amount of Central Excise Duty refund given by the Government under the Area based exemption Notifications I do not find anything in the information which fall in the category of commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property protected by Law and hence not covered under the exemption under section 8(1) read with 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: of the Act and should be revealed, I also do not find anything in the entire range of information that would answer the definition of fiduciary as is generally understood” The Commission heard the submissions made by respondents at length. The Commission also perused the case-file thoroughly; specifically, nature of issues raised by in her RTI application dated 20.09.2011, PIO’s response dated 29.09.2011 & 28.10.2011, FAA’s order dated 15.12.2011 and also the grounds of memorandum of second appeal and Commission finds that FAA analyzed the appellant’s issues well and has given a speaking order thereon. Thus, the Commission is of the considered view that the order dated 15.12.2011 given by FAA in the case is not only justified but even legally tenable in the eyes of Law. As such, the Commission conquers therewith. In view of the above, the respondents are hereby directed to comply with the order of FAA dated 15.12.2011, in letters and sprits, within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order under intimation to this Commission. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
(M.A. Khan Yusufi)
Citation: Smt. Sharmishta Mitra Sinha v. Central Excise in File No. CIC/SS/A/2012/000881/KY