Information about pension benefits and nomination done by late husband
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Bhartiya Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) seeking information regarding total amount due and nomination done by his late husband for his GPF, gratuity, insurance, pension during the period 1991 to 2009. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information. During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant stated that instead of providing the information sought in her RTI application the PIO as well as the FAA have given an evasive reply stating that her late husband’s terminal dues viz. pensionary benefits, PF, gratuity etc. could not paid due to non-receipt of essential documents from her. The PIO did not attend the hearing. The Commission issued a show cause notice to the PIO stating that by not furnishing the complete, correct and timely information the concerned CPIO has rendered himself liable for imposition of penalty in terms of the provisions of section 20(1) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees: Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him: Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. of the RTI Act.
During the show cause hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the PIO submitted that he had no intention to give any evasive reply and the fact of the matter is that when the claim of the appellant was being processed another lady claiming to be the first wife of the deceased husband, appeared before him with a marriage certificate and laid claim to his terminal benefits. Under such circumstances, the rules of the department prescribe that the claimant(s) should bring a ‘succession certificate’ from the competent court. Therefore, he informed the appellant that the pension case was not settled for want of some essential documents by which he meant the ‘succession certificate’. The document (viz. succession certificate) was also necessary to decide whether the information sought by the appellant could be disclosed to her as a bona-fide successor or she is a third party to whom the information cannot be disclosed being exempt under Section 8(1)(j) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person. of the RTI Act. He pleaded that there was no intention whatsoever to deliberately delay/deny the information, which in any case was disclosable only to a bona-fide successor after proper identification.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the information was disclosable only to the bona-fide successor of the deceased, for which purpose the ‘succession certificate’ was an essential document and that there was no intention on part of the PIO to deliberately deny the information. The CIC dropped the penalty proceedings noting that the explanation offered by the PIO is plausible and he has not malafidely denied the information sought.
Citation: Mrs. Kalpana v. BSNL in File No. CIC/BS/A/2012/000049/2545
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1352
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