FAA order directing inspection of documents regarding allotment of an LPG agency was not implemented - CIC: The selection processes should be completely transparent; personal dispute between the Appellant & the selected candidate has no impact on it
Appellant sought information regarding allotment of an LPG agency in Noida, allotment of land concerning the same and related issues - FAA order of permitting inspection of the relevant documents was not implemented - CIC: The selection processes should be completely transparent, so that there is no doubt whatsoever regarding the selections that are made - CIC: personal dispute between the families of the Appellant and the selected candidate has no impact on this matter - CIC: Facilitate inspection by the Appellant of all the relevant records excluding information of a personal nature concerning the selected candidate
This matter, pertaining to an RTI application dated 13.1.2014 filed by the Appellant, seeking information on seven points regarding allotment of an LPG agency in Noida, allotment of land concerning the same and related issues, came up today. The Respondents submitted that the information was initially denied. However, subsequently, the FAA informed the Appellant that he could inspect the relevant documents at the office of the Respondents. This was not done. The Appellant submitted that in 2009, the Respondents invited applications for allotment of an LPG agency and stipulated criteria for the selection process, including award of marks in respect of land offered by applicants. He alleged that the marks allotted in respect of the land norm, in the case of the selected candidate Shri Raj Kumar Sharma, were not in keeping with the prescribed criteria. The agency concerned started functioning in Sector 55 of Noida and the Appellant came to know later on from the Noida authorities that the land for the same was allotted by them to the Respondents and in turn given by them to the selected candidate. The Appellant prayed for direction to the Respondents to provide the information sought by him. He further submitted that he wants copies of the documents, bearing the signatures of the officers, who took decisions on different matters. In response to our query, the Respondents stated that they were willing to let the Appellant inspect the relevant documents, but were not willing to provide the names and designations of officers of BPCL who prepared and signed the preferred list of candidates (point No.3). The Respondents also stated that as per their information, there is some dispute between the families of the Appellant and the selected candidate; though they were not sure of the nature of the dispute. On being asked whether there is any court case concerning the selection process, the Respondents did not cite any such case.
2. We have considered the records and the submissions made by both the parties before us. We are of the view that selection processes such as these should be completely transparent, so that there is no doubt whatsoever regarding the selections that are made. Therefore, in such cases, we have been allowing RTI applicants to inspect the relevant records, with the exception of the personal information of the selected candidate, including the land records concerning any parcel of land offered by him for the outlet. However, since in the instant case, the land has not been provided by the selected candidate, but by the Respondents, information concerning land can also be offered to the Appellant for inspection. We see no ground to deny the names and designations of the officers, sought at point No.3 of the RTI application, as the preparation of the preferred list of candidates is a function performed by them in their official capacity and not information, which is personal to them. The submission of the Respondents concerning some personal dispute between the families of the Appellant and the selected candidate has no impact on this matter, particularly since such selection processes, as stated above, should be completely transparent and any citizen should have access to the documents concerning the same. It is not the case of the Respondents that any court has expressly forbidden provision of the information sought by the Appellant.
3. In view of the foregoing, the CPIO is directed to facilitate inspection by the Appellant of all the relevant records, concerning the queries of his RTI application dated 13.1.2014, on a mutually convenient date and time, within thirty days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission. While offering the records for inspection, the CPIO should exclude information of a personal nature concerning the selected candidate, such as his personal address, personal phone number, Income Tax details and PAN number and bank accounts details etc. After the inspection, the Appellant should be given photocopies of up to thirty pages of the inspected records, desired by him, free of charge. Any further photocopies, needed by him beyond the above number, should be given on payment of the prescribed photocopying charges.
4. With the above directions and observations, the appeal is disposed of.
5. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri H. C. Dadeech v. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd., in File No. CIC/SH/A/2014/001445.