Leave records of President, CESTAT - inspection offered after a delay of 190 days - PIO: there were about 25 RTI applications filed by the appellant pending at the same time - penalty of 5,000/- imposed - CIC: overload of work partly explains the delay
Heard today dated 18.7.13. Appellant present. The Public Authority is represented by Shri Victor James, the then CPIO, presently working as Director(V), EDMC. 2. A coordinate bench of the Commission vide order dt.26.4.13 in case Nos.CIC/SS/A/2012/000796 and 000797 had passed the following order: “1. The present appeal is being heard in continuation of adjunct order of the Commission dated 7.12.2012. The identical applications in file no.CIC/SS/A/12/000796 & CIC/SS/A/12/000797 are being dealt with a common order.
2. The appellant submits that he is pressing only for penalty proceedings under section 18 of the RTI Act, 2005.
3. The key issue for determination is whether the CPIO has delayed or denied the information to the appellant in such a manner as to make himself liable for penalty proceedings under section 20 of the RTI Act.
4. The appellant filed an RTI application dated 25.4.2011 addressed to the CPIO, Dept. of Revenue. The RTI application was transferred to the CPIO, CESTAT on 6.5.2011 under section 6 (3) of the Act.
5. The appellant appealed against the said transfer on 1.6.2011 alleging that the RTI has been wrongly transferred as the Dept. Of Reveune is itself the custodian of the information.
6. First appellate authority vide order dated 30.6.2011 partially allowed the appeal and directed the CPIO, Dept. Of Revenue to provide information regarding study leave/leave of Ms. Archana Wadhwa and leave details of President CESTAT within 15 days.
7. In compliace of the said order of the first appellate authority, the CPIO invited the appellant through letter dated 1.7.2011 to inspect the file pertaining to study leave of Ms. Archana Wadhwa, however in the said letter the respondent CPIO expressed his inability to provide file containing leave details of President, CESTAT while stating that the said file is under submission.
8. The appellant wrote reminder letters dated 11.7.2011 for inspection of the said file.
9. The main issue for determination before the Commission is whether the leave details of Hon'ble President, CESTAT was provided to the appellant in compliance of the first appellate authority's order. The appellant has inspected the file relating to leave details of Ms. Archana Wadhwa and the same is not in dispute.
10. The respondent submits that the said file relating to the leave records of President, CESTAT was inspected by the appellant on several occasions in relation to other RTI applications. The respondent has furnished a list of various dates on which the appellant inspected the same file.
11. However, the appellant maintains that the information sought in this particular RTI was not provided to him.
After hearing both the parties, the Commission is of the view that it is essential to determine whether the information has been provided to the appellant in compliance of the directions of the first appellate authority and if so whether there has been a considerable delay in providing the information as sought in the present RTI application dated 25.4.2011. In view of the above a show cause shall be issue to the CPIO of Dept. Of Reveune at the relevant time to explain why a penalty of rupees two hundred and fifty not exceeding rupees twenty thousand shall not be imposed on him to cause a delay in providing the information. The CPIO shall be present with the relevant documents in support of his submissions. A separate show cause to be issued.”
3. As per order dated 26.4.13, a separate show cause notice dated 10.5.2013was issued to Shri Victor James, the then CPIO, in File No.CIC/SS/C/2013/000187. Shri Victor James replied to the show cause vide his letter dated 28.6.13 which is taken on record.
4. During the hearing, Shri James submits that the RTI application dated 25.4.11 was transferred to CPIO, CESTAT, on 6.5.11 for the reason that all the information sought was more closely related to the functioning of CESTAT and the entire information was available with CESTAT. The appellant had filed an appeal challenging the transfer of the RTI application to CESTAT. The Appellate Authority, vide order dated 30.6.11, had partially allowed the appeal and directed CPIO, Department of Revenue, to provide information relating to the study leave/leave of Ms.Archana Wadhwa and the leave details of President, CESTAT within 15 days. In compliance of the order of AA, the appellant was invited to inspect the relevant files vide letter dated 1.7.11. The appellant inspected the file relating to the study leave/leave of Ms.Archana Wadhwa. However, the file relating to the leave records of President, CESTAT, could not be offered for inspection to the appellant as it was under submission to the higher authorities at that point of time. However, inspection of the leave records of President, CESTAT was subsequently given to the appellant.
5. On the other hand, the appellant would submit that CPIO had offered him inspection vide letter dated 19.1.12 i.e. after a delay of 190 days. On a query from the Commission as to whether he had received letter dated 1.7.11 from the CPIO inviting him for inspecting the records, the appellant would answer in the affirmative. However, he would contend that the files inspected by him on various dates offered by the CPIO did not contain the leave records of President, CESTAT.
6. From the above narration, it is clear that CPIO had made offer of inspection vide letter dated 1.7.11 only in regard to the leave record of Ms. Archana Wadhwa and not that of President, CESTAT. The offer of inspection relating to the leave record of President, CESTAT, was made for the first time on 19.1.12. It would, thus, appear that the order of the Appellate Authority was only partially complied with in a reasonable time frame and not fully. Even so, Shri James submission that there were about twenty five RTI applications filed by the appellant pending with him at the relevant time and that it was impossible for him to attend to all the RTI applications simultaneously and respond to them in the prescribed time frame, cannot be disregarded. Overload of work does partly explain the delay on the part of CPIO in giving inspection of leave records of President, CESTAT.
7. In the facts and circumstances of the case, in my view, the ends of justice will be met if a penalty of Rs.5,000/is imposed on Shri Victor James the then CPIO. The Commissioner, East Delhi Municipal Corporation is hereby directed to recover an amount of Rs.5,000/from the salary of Shri Victor James, Director (Vigilance) and have a Demand Draft made in favour of ‘PAO CAT’. This Demand Draft should be sent to Shri Pankaj K.P.Shreyaskar, Director, Central Information Commission, August Kranti Bhawan, Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi 110066. The Demand Draft should reach the Commission in 05 weeks time from the receipt of this order.
Citation: R.K. Jain v. Department of Revenue in File No. CIC/SS/C/2013/000187/LS