Fee to be refunded when information provided beyond 30 days by the PIO
The Appellant had requested for the copies of the audio recordings of the proceedings of the Joint Drafting Committee for Lokpal. The PIO provided the copies to the Appellant against payment of the prescribed charges but the information was provided beyond the stipulated time.
View of CIC
During the hearing, the appellant submitted that since the information was provided beyond the stipulated period of 30 days, it should have been provided free of cost and the money deposited by him should be refunded. The respondent submitted that he did not have the audio recordings in his possession at the time when the RTI application had been filed. As soon as it was made available to him, he offered the same to the appellant. The Central Information Commission found that although the PIO had not been handed over the copies of the audio recordings, these were available with the public authority concerned. Therefore the Commission directed the PIO to refund the amount of money which the appellant within 20 days from the receipt of the order.
As the RTI Act runs into the seventh year of coming in force, such small errors by the PIO, specially from DoPT is disappointing. The deemed PIO was lucky to have escaped without payment of penalty. Every hearing before the CIC costs Rs. 5,000 to 10,000. Therefore, though technically correct, such appeals delay the time required for the more pressing matters to be taken up before the Information Commission specially when the involved in the case is not too high.
Citation: Mr. Subhash Chandra Agrawal v. Department of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pension, Department of Personnel & Training in file no. CIC/SM/A/2011/001074, 002123 & 2795
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/147
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission