Information regarding the players above 30 years of age in Indian Camps was provided after 3 years - CIC: the PIOs cannot be allowed to explain away the delay merely by placing the blame on their juniors; compensation of Rs. 10,000/ granted u/s 19(8)(b)
This matter pertains to an RTI application dated 17.1.2012 filed by the Appellant, seeking information regarding the players above thirty years of age in Indian Camps. He filed an appeal dated 21.11.2014 to the CIC, which was received by the Commission on 26.11.2014, stating that the information sought by him was not provided.
2. The Appellant submitted that he did not get any information from the Respondents till the issuance of a notice by the Commission for today’s hearing. Following the issuance of this notice, the Respondents wrote to him vide their letter dated 2.2.2015, giving him a list of weightlifting campers who attended the latest senior national coaching camp at Patiala, along with their date of birth. The Appellant stated that this information was different from the information sought by him and was provided to him with considerable delay of over three years. He further submitted that the Respondents had fixed thirty years as the maximum age limit for appointment as coaches. However, the maximum age limit to join the diploma course in coaching was thirty five years, which implied that a person completing the diploma could be thirty six years old and would have no chance to be appointed as a coach. According to the Appellant, he intended to pursue the above matter by seeking the information through his RTI application dated 17.1.2012. However, he was unable to do so because the information was not provided for a long period of over three years. He is no longer interested in the information, but wants to be compensated under Section 19 of the RTI Act.
3. We note that the RTI application dated 17.1.2012 was addressed to the Department of Sports, which transferred it on 6.2.2012 to the Director (Coordination) of the Sports Authority of India (SAI). On 16.2.2012, the then Director (Coordination), SAI, transferred the application to Director (Coaching) and CPIO, SAI, requesting him to provide the information directly to the Appellant. Thereafter, the information was not provided in spite of an appeal dated 25.4.2012 to the FAA and his order dated 4.5.2012 to Director (Coaching) to provide the information. The Respondents have stated in their written submissions dated 5.2.2015 that the information sought was not under the purview of the Coaching Division. However, the application was kept pending by the then Dealing Assistant, “who was habitual absentee and later on removed from SAI service for his such irregularities in duty.”(sic). The Respondents have further stated that on receiving the notice from today’s hearing, the file in question was traced out and a response was sent to the Appellant on 2.2.2015.
4. Dr. Rajeev Sareen stated that he joined as Deputy Director (Coaching) late last year and was not concerned directly with the matter and not responsible for the delay in responding to the RTI application. We have no ground to hold Dr. Sareen personally responsible for the delay. However, at the same time, we cannot help noting that in some earlier cases also, involving delay in responding to RTI applications, in which the Sports Authority of India were the Respondents, we have come across some officers of the public authority, who were keen to pass on the responsibility to their colleagues rather than explaining the stand of the public authority. Therefore, Dr. Sareen was informed that when an officer of the public authority appears before the Commission, we expect him or her to state the position of the public authority rather than speaking for himself / herself. We can only hope that the public authority will sensitise its officers appearing before the Commission to keep the above in mind.
5. What is clear in this case is that the Appellant has not received the information sought by him even after a period of over three years from the filing of his RTI application. In their written submissions, the Respondents have sought to put the entire blame on an “absentee” Assistant. In this context, we note that the responsibility cast on the CPIOs by Section 7 (1) of the RTI Act to give a response to RTI applications in a time bound manner will lose its sanctity if the CPIOs were to explain away the delay in responding to RTI applications merely by placing the blame on their juniors. The Appellant appears to have a genuine grievance regarding the maximum age fixed for appointment of coaches and had sought the information to pursue this grievance. He has clearly undergone a good deal of harassment over a period of three years because the Respondents did not care to respond to his RTI application. We, therefore, believe that he is entitled to be compensated. In such cases, it is not possible for the Commission to quantify the loss or other detriment suffered by an Appellant. However, considering the long delay in responding to this RTI application and in exercise of the powers vested in the CIC in Section 19 (8) (b) of the RTI Act, we direct the Respondents to pay the Appellant a compensation of Rs. 10,000/. The CPIO is directed to ensure that this amount is paid to the Appellant within fifteen working days of the receipt of this order, under intimation to the Commission.
6. With the above directions, the appeal is disposed of.
7. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties. The Registry is directed to send a copy of the order, besides the usual recipients, to Shri Jiji Thomson, Director General, Sports Authority of India, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Complex, East Gate, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.
Citation: Shri Gaurav Sharma v. Sports Authority of India in File No. CIC/LS/A/2012/002497/SH