Information regarding seniority list - PIO: The role of Noda PIO is that of a post office - CIC: Such a poor understanding of the RTI Act can be rectified not by imposing penalty, but by referring the PIO for a training session to upgrade RTI knowledge
Information sought and background of the case:
The Appellant vide RTI application dated 04.02.2017, sought information regarding seniority list of staff nurse on seventeen points:-
1. Whether the Health &Family welfare Department of Delhi Govt. had brought out the review seniority list of the staff nurses vide letter no. F 41(B)/99/DHSIDSNC/2015 in the year 2015 in respect of the staff nurses who had joined service tilt 1994?
2. if the reply to the above point in affirmative i.e. Yes, then please intimate whether the said seniority list contained the names of the SC/ST candidates also who had joined service till 1994 or the Department maintains a separate seniority list in respect of the said category of candidates?
3. When a staff nurse gets' promotion or resigns from the service, whether the name of such nurse is deleted from the seniority list or a remark is made against his/her name in the seniority list indicating promoted or resigned, as the case may be.
4. Please inform the procedure being followed to deal with the cases of such nurses who are promoted or have resigned from service to show their position in the seniority list. Whether this procedure has been followed while preparing the seniority list referred to in Para 1 above?
5. The undersigned Ms Nirmala Kumari had joined the service' with Delhi Govt. as staff nurse on 16.3.1994 in the office of the Medical Supt. Lok Nayak Jayprakash Narayan Hospital of the Delhi Govt. Intimate whether the Department has any list of the staff nurses who had joined service till the year 1994 which contains my name. In case such list of staff nurses cadre exists please- provide me a copy of the same.
6. In case my name does not find mention in the seniority list of the staff nurse cadre of the nurses who had joined service till 1994, whether the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, Hari Nagar had sent any request/ reference to Health &Family Welfare Department for inclusion of her name in the seniority list of the staff nurses who-had joined service till 1994.
7. If reply to point no.6 above is in yes, intimate when the said reference was received in the H&FW Department from, DDU, Hospital.
8. What is the time, schedule as per the Departmental guidelines to dispose such type of matters? Involving inclusion of name in the seniority list?
9. Whether her name has been included in the seniority list of staff nurses who had joined service till 1994, after the receipt of some reference to that effect-from DDL,J, Hospital, in case it was not there earlier? If yes i.e. her name has been inscribed in the seniority list of the staff nurses who joined service till 1994, provide me a copy of such seniority list. Etc..
Office Superintendent (HR-Nursing), Dept. Health & Family Welfare– Sh. Naveen Kumar Sharma vide letter dated 20.03.2017 provided some responses against the queries. By another reply dated 21.03.2017, the SPIO, Lok Nayak Hospital provided responses against queries No. 2, 5, 6, 7 while rejecting all other queries stating that it does not pertain to E-III Branch. Being dissatisfied, the Appellant filed First Appeal dated 20.04.2017. FAA/Spl. Secretary(H&FW) vide order dated 02.06.2017 directed to PIO,H&FW to provide information to the appellant, if available, within 30 days of the order. Feeling aggrieved over the non-compliance of FAO, the Appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.
Facts emerging in Course of Hearing:
Both parties are present for hearing. Perusal of records indicate that no proper information or reply has been provided so far to the appellant and even the FAA’s order has not been complied. Respondents appearing from Lok Nayak Hospital and Department of Health and Family Welfare, Delhi Govt. keep passing the responsibility to each other. The officials from the Hospital state that questions posed by the appellant pertaining to seniority of employees is decided by the recruiting authority, which in this case is the Department of Health &Family Welfare
Deliberations between parties and records of the case reveal that the germane issue which has given rise to this RTI application is the grievance of the appellant with respect to denial of seniority, which she was entitled to. Discussions during the hearing indicate that for redressal of her grievance, the appellant must file an appropriate application through her current employer viz. Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital. The respondents have contended that once routed through the said hospital, the Department of Health and Family Welfare, will be able to address the issue of her seniority.
Now dealing with the RTI Application in hand, it is noted that the queries of the appellant have not been answered by either of the respondents. The respondents had not clarified in the responses that information sought is actually held by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Delhi Govt., which is the actual custodian of information nor did any of the respondent advise her to file an application before her current employer, viz. Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital. Both the respondents from Lok Nayak Hospital and Department of Health and Family Welfare, Delhi Govt have provided evasive responses, while denying or diverting the queries.
It is interesting to note that despite knowledge of holding information about seniority of employees, Sh. Premananda Prusty, PIO, Department of Health and Family Welfare [H&FW], Delhi Govt transferred the RTI application to the hospital in question, thereby deferring and wrongfully diverting the flow of information. It is further noted that the FAA’s order dated 02.06.2017 directing the PIO, H&FW to provide information has also not been complied with, despite presence of Sh. Rakesh Kumar Verma during the hearing of the First Appeal. Thus the PIO, H&FW has not only failed to provide the requisite information but also caused obstruction to the flow of information by sheer non-application of mind, wrongful transfer of the RTI application and violation of the specific directions of the FAA. Even after passage of two years since the FAA’s order dated 02.06.2017, no endeavour was made by the PIO, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Delhi Govt. to obtain accurate information from the concerned custodian/s of information under Section 5(4) of the RTI Act, 2005. The Dept. of H&FW is represented by a Junior Assistant while the PIO has not submitted any written submission justifying the non-furnishing of information.
Under the circumstances, the Commission directs the Registry of this Bench to issue Show Cause Notice against i) Sh. Premananda Prusty – the then PIO, H&FW and ii) Sh. Amit Kumar Pamasi- the current PIO for complete non application of mind, non-furnishing of information in response to the RTI application, non-compliance of the FAA’s order and violation of the mandate laid down by the RTI Act, 2005.
The appeal is disposed off accordingly.
Facts emerging in Course of Show Cause
Submission dated 20.09.2019 has been received from PIO (HR-Nursing)/Dept. of H&FW/ Noticee – Shri Amit Kumar Pamasi wherein in response to the Show Cause Notice, he has submitted that:
On the date of hearing, he got delayed in attending the hearing due to VVIP movement,
- Joined the department much after filing of the RTI Application and the First Appeal was adjudicated;
- On checking the records, he found that order of the FAA was duly complied vide reply dated 29.08.2017, which had not been placed on record before the Commission;
- In order to resolve the issue, the appellant was requested to come to the office and present fresh representation since her earlier representation could not be received from the hospital where she was employed.
- Upon receipt of the copy of representation from the appellant, a letter has been addressed to the hospital to urgently send the file to resolve the issue and address the queries raised by the appellant.
It is noted that vide communication dated 29.08.2017, the Office Superintendent, HR Nursing – Shri Navin Kumar Sharma had indeed provided a comprehensive response. The Noticee No. 2/current PIO – Shri Amit Kumar Pamasi appeared during the hearing and further stated that information against queries 12 and 13 could not be traced but Appellant was invited to visit the respondent’s office to discuss her case. On examining the facts of her case, it was learnt that the core issue giving rise to her queries and her primary grievance related to upgradation of her scale, which had not been addressed so far. Hence, the current PIO took necessary steps to get her relevant records from the appellant’s current employer-hospital and resolve her pending grievance of upgradation of scale.
The Nodal PIO- Prusty has submitted a written note dated 07.05.2019 stating that he was acting as PIO, Health Department as Nodal Officer, wherein his responsibility always involved forwarding the questions/information sought by the applicant to the concerned branches/offices under Health Department, GNCTD and forwarding the response received from the concerned department/branches/offices to the applicant. Both Noticees are present during hearing and reiterate their submissions as already discussed above.
Upon perusal of records of the case, particularly the submissions/explanations of the Noticees and on hearing their averments, the Commission finds that the current PIO – Shri Amit Kumar Pamasi has demonstrated through his written submissions dated 20.09.2019 and during the course of hearing on 30.09.2019 that the non-supply of information to the appellant occurred since the Noticee No. 2 joined the department much after the RTI application and the First Appeal were filed and was not aware about this matter, till receipt of notice from the Commission. The Noticee No. 2 has further explained that appropriate remedial action to address the main grievance of the appellant have already been initiated by him. In view of the above facts, the Commission accepts the prayer of the Noticee No. 2 and exonerates him of the penal action initiated against him. However, the PIO (HR-Nursing)/Dept. of H&FW/Noticee No. 2 – Shri Amit Kumar Pamasi is directed to submit a status report with respect to the action taken in resolving the appellant’s grievance regarding upgradation of her pay scale, before the Commission by 25.11.2019.
Now discussing the reply to Show Cause furnished by the Noticee No. 1, it is noted that Shri Prusty has sought to state that the role of a Nodal PIO is that of a post office. Unfortunately, such a poor understanding of the RTI Act can be rectified not by imposing penalty, but by referring the Noticee No.1 for a training session to upgrade his knowledge about RTI Act. Accordingly, the Commission directs that a copy of this order be marked to the First Appellate Authority, H&FW Department, Delhi Secretariat, GNCTD to take necessary steps ensuring that the Noticee No. 1 is appropriately trained to handle RTI cases and made aware that the role of Nodal PIO encompasses more duties than acting merely as a post office but should act as a catalyst in expediting dissemination of information by the actual custodian of information. An action taken report shall be submitted by the o/o FAA in this regard before the Commission by 30.11.2019.
The appeal is thus disposed off with these observations.
Y. K. Sinha
Citation: Smt. Nirmala Kumari v. 1. PIO, Deptt. Of Health & Family Welfare and PIO, O/o Medical Supdt., Lok Nayak Hospital in Second Appeal No. CIC/LOKHN/A/2017/151062, Date of Decision: 30.10.2019