Information regarding notice issued to appellant for payment of property tax - CIC takes adverse note of the gross insensitivity & callousness exhibited towards 75 years old appellant who was forced to file an RTI application after getting a wrong notice
The appellant had sought information regarding notice issued to him for payment of property tax on his property.
Relevant facts emerging during hearing:
Both the parties are present. The appellant is represented by Sh. Madan Singh. The appellant had filed RTI application on 05.09.2012 seeking information regarding notice issued to him for payment of property tax on his property. The appellant filed first appeal on not receiving any information within prescribed time. The FAA directed the PIO to supply photocopy of Demand and Collection Register (D&C Register) in his order dated 09.11.2012. The appellant stated that he received a reply dated 19.10.2012 wherein PIO/Dy. Collector and Assessor transferred the application to Shahdara Zone, who in his reply stated that queries from Points 3 to 5 do not come under the RTI Act and that he was not obliged to provide any information to the appellant.
The respondent stated that appellant had been paying property tax for the area 179 Sq. Ft as per self assessment, but according to their records, the actual area for calculation of tax is 199 Sq. Ft so the PTR was being filed on the basis of wrong calculation of the area. On query by the Commission as to whether the notice was sent to the appellant because he is paying for 179 Sq. Ft of area and not for 199 Sq. Ft, respondent stated that notice was given to most of the property tax payers to update their records after trifurcation of the Corporation. The respondent displayed the copy of notice wherein it was clear that such notices were being sent to many property owners for not paying property taxes and not for filing wrong returns. As far as the reply on Point 2 is concerned, whether property tax is being paid regularly or not; the respondent stated that a copy of D&C Register can be obtained on payment of fee. The appellant stated that first a notice was issued to him stating that he is not paying his dues and that too was received by him after the hearing date. On filing of RTI application by him, the respondents replied that a copy of the register can be provided to him on payment of prescribed fee.
The appellant expressed his disappointment over such negligence on the part of the respondents. In pursuance of FAA’s order, appellant was provided relevant copies of the Demand and Collection Register on 22.02.2013. The respondent agreed that as per the record of the MCD the payment of the property tax was being paid by the appellant regularly and the notice was issued wrongly. The respondent furnished the copy of notice sent from the Dy. Assessor and Collector which states that the appellant/assessor has not filed his PTR. On query by the Commission as to what does an entry in the D&C Register means or represent, the respondent stated that it means that the assessor has paid the tax. A written submission has also been filed by the respondent in this regard.
The Commission takes adverse note of the gross insensitivity and callousness exhibited by the respondents towards an appellant who is 75 years old, who was forced to file an RTI application after getting a notice from the Tax Assessor for allegedly not filing PTRs. The application sought confirmation of the fact that he was filing the returns regularly during the period. Instead of affirming the fact and expressing regret over sending a wrong notice, the respondent sought to side-track the issue during hearing citing fault of the dispatch system in the MCD for late delivery of notice and then stating that reply had been sent asking the appellant to inspect the D&C Register regarding his payment of property dues and paying money to get copies of the same. The copies were later provided to the appellant in pursuance of the FAA’s order. The irony is that the RTI application was not engineered on its own by the appellant. It was the MCD’s notice alleging non-payment on behalf of the appellant that forced the appellant to seek information from the MCD itself to convince the latter regarding his bonafides in the matter. The Commission appreciates the plea of the respondent during the hearing regarding increase in volume of work resulting from the trifurcation of the MCD in 2012 and the issue of notices to all the property owners to rationalise their records. However, the Commission also expects that RTI applications filed by appellants in response to such notices which are wrongly issued, are dealt with in the true spirit of the RTI regime, albeit with some sensitivity in cases of applications filed by Senior Citizens and in this case, a 75 year old. The appellant has demanded action taken against the concerned officers who were responsible for issuing wrong notices to him and causing unnecessary harassment. The entire matter is brought to the notice of the Commissioner, MCD for necessary action. He should also direct the CPIOs/PIOs to handle such RTI applications expeditiously and with due care and sensitivity. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Shri P.N. Prashar v. East Delhi Municipal Corpn., Delhi in F.No. CIC/DS/A/2013/000435-YA