File notings relating to sanction of prosecution against the appellant were sought - CIC: The petitioner is seeking information pertaining to the initiation of prosecution against him; it cannot be denied under principles of natural justice
1. Supply the authenticated copies of the following documents:-
i. Note sheet pages 1 to 19 and correspondences pages 1-19- with a total of 73 pages of the PMG Mumbai Region file no. Bldg/4-37/Mauje Bhauander/82-83 cited in your no. 16- 5/2011-Vig dated 20/06/2010 sent to Sh. MS Bali, chief PMG (u/s), Maharashtra & Goa, Mumbai.
ii. CBI ACB Mumbai letter no. DP 026 2010/96/RC.6(A)/2010 dated 26/02/2010 sent to Department of Posts Along with CBI/ACB Mumbai FIR no. RC BA1/2010/A0006 dated 18/02/2010, cited in your no. 16-5/2011-Vig dated 20/06/2010 sent to Sh. MS Bali, Chief PMG (u/s), Maharashtra & Goa, Mumbai.
iii. Statements, recorded at any stage between 16/02/2010 and 03/08/2011, of the persons in the list witness in the memo of charges no. 16-5/2011-Vig dated 20/06/2010 served on Sh. MS Bali, Chief PMG (u/s) Maharashtra & Goa Circle. The concerned person were Sh. GR Nagrale, Smt. Abha Singh, Sh. B Chandrashekhar, Sh. PC Singh, Smt. Rita Shah, and Sh. SD kadlag.
iv. Report(s) of the enquiry(ies) conducted by the officers of the Department of posts before issue of the memo no. 16-5/2011-Vig dated 20/06/2010 and statements, if any, recorded during the said enquiry (ies).
v. Citizen charter of the Department of Posts, and any other documents prescribing time limits for disposal of requests received from public etc.
2. Also, Allow to inspect the following files/documents, and take copies of such papers as required after inspection:
i. PMG Mumbai Region file no. Bldg/4-37/Mauje Bhayander/82-83 dealing with grant of NOC in the plot at Mira Bhayander, Thane District.
ii. CPMG Maharashtra Circle file dealing with grant of NOC in the same plot.
iii. File in Postal Directorate and offices of CPMG Maharashtra and PMG Mumbai Region relating to cancellation of NOC granted in the case of Mira Road-Bhayander Plot.
iv. PMG Mumbai Region files relating to requests for grant/refusal of NOC in all cases in last 20 years. Specifically, and not exclusively, cases of Naupada Post Office (Jumma Masjid plot), Juhu, Lal Bagh. The list is not exhaustive.
v. CPMG Maharashtra & Goa Circle files relating to requests for grant/refusal of NOC in all cases in last 10 years –e.g. cases of Naupada Post Office (Jumma Masjid plot), Juhu, Lal Bagh. The list is not exhaustive.
vi. Postal Directorate (Estate Division) files dealing with the grant/refusal of NOC for Naupada Post office (Jumma Masjid plot) in Thane.
vii. File in the offices of PMG Mumbai Region and CPMG Maharashtra for grant of NOC in respect of other 5 plots, i.e. sites nos. 161,163,251,286 and 296 in Mira Bhayander and Navgarh in Thane District.
viii. Files in PMG Offices, Mumbai Region and CPMG Office Maharashtra where office of MoS (C&IT) has desired vacation of rented buildings occupied by post offices, during the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 in Mumbai and other Regions.
ix. File containing Cabinet Summary/Monthly Reports sent by CPMG Maharashtra & Goa to Secretary (Post) and other officers from August 2008 to February 2010.
x. File in office of CPMG Maharashtra containing reports sent by CPMG Maharashtra to Postal Directorate from 25/02/2010 till the issue of the present memo dated 20/06/2010 in connection with the criminal charge and departmental disciplinary action against Sh. MS Bali.
xi. File(s) in the Postal Directorate relating to grant of Prosecution sanction on 13/12/2010 against Sh. MS Bali.
xii. File(s) in Postal Directorate to placing Sh. MS Bali under suspension and periodic extensions of suspension thereafter.
xiii. File(s) in the Postal Directorate from 25/02/2010 where decision was taken to issue the charge sheet vide memo no. 16-5/2011-Vig dated 20/06/2010 against Sh. MS Bali.
xiv. Files in the Estate Division of Postal Directorate relating to the policy regarding acquisition of plots by the Department.
Grounds for the Second Appeal: The CPIO has not provided the desired information.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing held on 31/12/2014: The following were present
Appellant: Mr. Manjit Singh Bali M: 9910013142
Respondent: Mr. Vinod Kumar DPS Mumbai through VC M: 09833442524
The appellant stated that the information sought in all the three appeals is inter-related and hence they may be heard together and disposed of by a common order. He further stated that he is pressing for the following:
1. File notings relating to sanction of his prosecution.
2. Copies of documents in file no. 16-5/2011-Vig.
He submitted that the information sought under item 1 is squarely covered by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi decision dated 05/03/2013 [W.P.(C) 7048/2011 - SUDHIRRANJAN SENAPATI vs. Union of India and others] and that sought under item 2 is covered by the full bench decision dated 17/01/2014 [file no. CIC/BS/A/2012/000928 – Sonam Sharma vs. Department of Posts]
The CPIO is not present inspite of being put on notice for the hearing.
Interim Decision notice dated 31/12/2014:
The Commission takes a serious view of the lackadaisical/callous attitude adopted by the CPIO/Asstt. Director General (Vig.II) Delhi who has not bothered to attend the hearing inspite of being put on notice. The Commission, therefore, directs the FAA/Director (Vig.) to call for the explanation of the CPIO for not providing the information sought by the appellant and also for not attending the hearing inspite of being put on notice. The explanation of the CPIO as aforesaid along with the FAA’s comments should reach the Commission on or before 16/01/2015 by post and also by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hearing is adjourned for 20/01/2015 at 03.00 PM
Relevant Facts emerging during the Hearing: The following were present
Appellant: Mr. Manjit Singh Bali M: 9910013142
Respondent: Mr. Devendra s. Uikey CPIO M: 9810811127
The CPIO stated that while he has no objection in furnishing the information sought under para 2 (viz. Copies of documents in file no. 16-5/2011-Vig) the information sought under para 1 (viz. file notings relating to sanction of prosecution) cannot be disclosed as it would hamper the prosecution of the appellant which is in progress in the court. The appellant reiterated his earlier stand stating that the information sought is squarely covered by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi’s decision dated 05/03/2013 [W P (C) 7048/2011 – Sudhirranjan Senapati vs. Union of India and others]. To a query the appellant confirmed that the investigation is complete and charge sheet has been filed in the court on 30/12/2010.
It is seen that in a similar issue where the petitioner had sought “(iii) relevant copies of the office notings on the basis of which the said prosecution was issued” the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in its decision dated 04/05/2010 [W P (C) 6226/2007 – S M Lamba vs. S C Gupta and others has held as under:
“7. The document at (iii) was referred to be given by the Respondent Bank is citing Section 8(1)(h) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; of the RTI Act. The reason given was that the prosecution was in progress in the CBI Court at Ambala against the Petitioner.
8. A perusal of Section 8(1)(h) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; of the RTI Act shows that information can be withheld which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders. In the present case the charge sheet having been filed upon completion of investigation, there can be no apprehension that the disclosure would impede the progress of the investigation. It would also not impede the trial which is already in progress.
9. In that view of the matter, there is no justification in withholding the information sought by the Petitioner at (iii) above. Consequently, the impugned order of the Central Information Commission is modified to the extent that the Respondent Bank is directed to make available to the Petitioner the information at (iii) above within two weeks from today. It will be open to the Respondent Bank while furnishing the above information, to conceal the names of any of the other officers whose names may be reflected.”
A similar view was taken by the Delhi High Court in it its decision dated 05/03/2013 in (W.P. (C)7048/2011 Sudhirranjan Senapati Vs Union of India and Ors.) citied by the appellant. The Court held as under:
“11.3 I have no reason to differ with the view taken either in Bhagat Singh case or with the prima facie view taken in the order passed by my predecessor in his order dated 14.10.2010. It is trite that an accused can challenge the order by which sanction is obtained to trigger a prosecution against the accused. If that be so, I do not see any good reason to withhold information which, in one sense, is the underlying material, which led to the final order according sanction for prosecution of the petitioner. As a matter of fact, the trial court is entitled to examine the underlying material on the basis of which sanction is accorded when a challenge is laid to it, to determine for itself as to whether the sanctioning authority had before it the requisite material to grant sanction in the matter. See observations in Gokulchand Dwarkadas Morarka vs The King AIR 1948 PC 82 and State of Karnataka vs Ameerjan (2007) 11 SCC 273. Therefore, the said underlying material would be crucial to the cause of the petitioner, who seeks to defend himself in criminal proceedings, which the State as the prosecutor cannot, in my opinion, withhold unless it can show that such information would hamper prosecution.”
As per the ratio of the above cited judgments and the clearly established legal position, the Commission is of the considered opinion that the petitioner in this case seeking information pertaining to the initiation of prosecution against him cannot be denied the information under principles of natural justice. Hence, the CPIO is directed to supply the information as sought under para 1 & 2 above to the appellant within two weeks from the date of receipt of this order. The respondent while supplying the information under para 1 are permitted to remove from the notings the date, name and the designation of the person(s) recording the noting. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Mr. Manjit Singh v. Department of Posts in File No. CIC/BS/A/2014/000211+ 000213+000228/6805