Information regarding concurrent auditor reports of BO denied u/s 8(1)(d),(e) & (j) - PIO had not stated that records pertaining to 2005 were not required to be maintained & a fire broke out in the office in 2011 - SCN issued to PIO for incorrect reply
1. The appellant, Shri Avtar Singh, has submitted RTI application dated 19 March 2012 before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Punjab National Bank, Chandigarh; seeking information regarding the concurrent auditor reports of BO: Sector 28 Chandigarh etc. through a total of 6 points.
2. Vide order dated 10 April 2012, CPIO denied the information to the appellant u/Ss. 8(1)(d), 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; & 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, 2005. Not satisfied by the CPIO’s reply, the appellant preferred an appeal dated 19 April 2012 to the first appellate authority (FAA). Vide order dated 23 May 2012, FAA upheld the CPIO’s decision and held that the information sought in the appeal did not disclose as to in which account the desired information was required, as the general information could not be provided till it was specific and particular.
3. Being aggrieved and not satisfied by the above response of the public authority, the appellant preferred second appeal before the Commission.
4. The matter was heard today via videoconferencing. The appellant, Shri Avtar Singh was present at the hearing and made submissions from Kapurthala. The respondent, Shri Vijay Kumar Aggarwal, CPIO made submission from Chandigarh.
5. The appellant submitted that information had not been provided by the CPIO for his RTI application dated 19.3.2012. He submitted that he was served chargesheet in the year 2011 and documents were annexed to the said chargesheet. During the hearing, the CPIO submitted that the information sought by the appellant is old record pertaining to year 2005 and as per the record retention schedule of the bank the documents are to be maintained only for 5 year (monthly reports and Inspection reports maintained by all the branches of the bank). Also, in the year 2011, a fire broke into the Office building which destroyed a large number of documents. The respondents had not stated this in reply to the appellant, earlier.
6. The Commission directs the CPIO to try to trace again the documents from the office within 15 days and inform the appellant the outcome of the search in writing. It is further observed that grounds taken by the CPIO in his reply are incorrect as the information sought by the appellant is not related to third party.
7. The Commission is of the view that incorrect reply has been provided by the CPIO and the FAA has failed to notice the same. Hence, show cause notice is issued u/s 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, 2005 as to why penalty of Rs. 25,000/ should not be imposed on the CPIO posted as on 10.4.2012 for providing incorrect information to the appellant. The CPIO will appear before the Commission in person on 24 April, 2014 at 12.45 p.m. at NIC Centre, Room No. 222, 2nd Floor, NIC UT Chandigarh Unit, Deluxe Building, UT Secretariat, Sector 9D, Chandigarh - 160009.
Citation: Shri Avtar Singh v. Punjab National Bank in Appeal: No. CIC/VS/A/2012/000503/MP