Information pertaining to the premature closure of LIC policy was denied by stating that the requested information cannot be traced - CIC: penalty of Rs.25,000/- on the PIO; compensation of Rs. 10,000/- awarded to the applicant
1. In pursuance of Commission’s order of even number dated 9 October 2013, matter was heard today. Appellant appeared in person. Former CPIO/branch manager LIC of India, Kannauj, Shri Ramji Dwivedi was heard via videoconferencing from Kanpur. It was submitted by Shri Dwivedi that the policy was surrendered on 31 August 2010. This matter has been heard on three occasions previously and had been disposed of by commissions orders of even number dated 9 October 2013, 17 June 2013 and 13 may 2013. It is now established that the policy of the appellant was surrendered during the period when Shri Prem Shankar was branch manager, LIC, Kannauj whereas the RTI application was preferred and dealt with during the time when Shri Ramji Dwivedi was the branch manager at the said branch.
2. After hearing the parties Commission concludes that the deemed CPIO/branch manager, LIC Kannauj Shri Ramji Dwivedi failed to discharge his obligations as mandated under the RTI Act and did not provide information as sought under points 5 and 6 of the RTI application to the CPIO, Divisional office, Agra. Mere statement that the requested information cannot be traced cannot be accepted as credible plea for denial of the requested information under the RTI Act. Further the plea taken by the CPIO that he documents are required to be preserved up to 5 years as per the approved schedule for maintenance of records, is also not tenable as the public authority has accepted that the appellant's policy was surrendered on 31 August 2010 and information was sought by the appellant in March 2012 which is well within the period when the documents are required to be preserved as per the Corporation's approved schedule for preservation of records. Also, the Commission has not been provided with any documents such as lodging of F I R in respect of the untraceable documents.
3. Therefore, Commission imposes a penalty of Rs. 25,000/- on Shri Ramji Dwivedi for not having provided information to the appellant in response to his RTI application. (3 March 2012 to 13 May 2013 (437 days x Rs. 250/) when first time Appellant was informed during the hearing that the concerned file holding the requested information is not traceable). Both, the CPIO and the first appellate authority have repeated in their orders that information on points 5 and 6 is held by the Kannauj branch and will be provided to the appellant as soon as it is received. At no time has it been revealed to the appellant by both the authorities that the said information is not available/ untraceable. It has been brought out the Commission’s order of 30 May 2013 that the appellant is still holding the original policy bond and today he has stated before the Commission that until the matter is finalised by the Corporation he is unable to claim the cheque made out in his favour after his policy was prematurely closed without his consent/request.
4. The Appellate Authority is directed to recover the amount of Rs. 25,000/- from the salary of Shri Ramji Dwivedi, CPIO/Branch Manage, LIC, Kannauj and remit the same by a demand draft or a Banker’s cheque in the name of the Pay & Accounts Officer, CAT, payable at New Delhi and send the same to Shri Pankaj K.P. Shreyaskar, Director and Joint Registrar of the Central Information Commission, 2nd Floor, August Kranti Bhawan, New Delhi110066. The amount may be deducted at the rate of Rs. 5000/per month every month from the salary of the CPIO and remitted by the 10th of every month starting from December, 2013. The total amount of Rs. 25,000/will be remitted by 10th of May, 2014.
4. Vide Commission’s order of even number dated 17 June 2013 ( Copy enclosed) the matter had been referred to the Vigilance Department for further investigation and the order spells out in detail the circumstances surrounding the events that have led to the RTI application. Now, once again Commission directs that a copy of this order along with all the previous orders in this case the marked to the CVO, Vigilance Department, Head Office, Mumbai to make further enquiries into the matter so as to take it to its logical conclusion. The appellant is a head constable in the CRPF and posted at Guwahati and has been put to considerable harassment and detriment on account of the nonfurnishing of information pertaining to the premature closure of his policy and subsequent denial of information pertaining to this premature closure. Accordingly the Commission awards him compensation of Rs. 10,000/- as per the provisions of section 19(8)(b) In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered; of the Act. This amount will be paid to the appellant within two weeks of receipt of the order.
5. A copy of this order is also marked to the CMD, LIC of India Mumbai so that he can take cognizance of this matter which highlights a possible major wrongdoing in the conducting of insurance business by LIC branch office, Kannauj and fix responsibility for the resultant loss caused to the Corporation.
(Smt. Deepak Sandhu)
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Shri Rajesh Kumar v. in LIC of India Adjunct III Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2012/001918