List of sundry creditors /payments due to private or Govt. owned hospitals by Min. of Health & Family Welfare was sought - CIC: Respondent has very conveniently omitted to disclose information without taking any substantive plea; Furnish the information
Date of Hearing : 04.03.2016
Date of Decision : 01.04.2016
Information sought and background of the appeal:
The appellant sought detailed list of sundry creditors /payments due to private or Govt. owned hospitals by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and information incidental thereto under three points. Vide letter dated 09.03.2015, the PIO furnished information to the appellant. The FAA upheld the reply sent by CPIO. Feeling aggrieved, the appellant approached the Commission.
Relevant facts emerging during hearing:
Appellant is absent. Respondent is present and heard. The respondent states that reply on similar RTI applications by the appellant has already been given on 26,06,2014 and 27.08.2014, wherein it was conveyed that information is not kept in the format as desired by the appellant. A perusal of memorandum of appeal reveals that the appellant has categorically alleged that the respondent authority has not maintained the information sought and such deviation is a violation of Section 4. It would be profitable to refer to the reply of CPIO dated 09.03.2015:
“Reply of your RTI application dated 30.12.2013 & 05.07.2014 on the same matter has already been given by this office vide letter No. Misc30/1415/ Hospital Cell/CGHS (Hq), dated 26.04.2014 & letter no. Misc68/1415/ Hospital Cell/CGHS (Hq), dated 27.08.2014 (copy enclosed). As the questions asked are the same, hence the same reply is forwarded i.e. Information is not available in this format”
After hearing the respondent and perusal of record, the Commission is deeply pained with the manner in which the present RTI request was handled. Disclosure of information is the rule and denial thereof, an exception. It is not the case of respondent that the information sought is exempted from disclosure. The respondents had merely taken a plea of information not being available in the format as sought. It would be fruitful to refer to Section 19(5) In any appeal proceedings, the onus to prove that a denial of a request was justified shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, who denied the request. of the RTI Act, 2005.
19. Appeal— (5) In any appeal proceedings, the onus to prove that a denial of a request was justified shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, who denied the request.
The mandate of law is clear. Denial of disclosure of information has to be justified by the CPIO. The justifications so legally permissible are enumerated under Section 8 of the Act. Thus, any public authority averse to disclosure must take shelter under the exemptions as enumerated under Section 8. Further, it is mandate of Section 7(9) An information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question. to disseminate information sought in the format desired unless such compilation disproportionately diverts the resources of the public authority. In the present case, the respondent has very conveniently omitted to disclose information without taking any substantive plea. The CPIO ought to have furnished information in form which was readily available with the public authority, but the stand adopted by the CPIO is grossly untenable. Any denial of information which cannot withstand the test of Section 8 cannot be termed lawful.
In the facts of the present case, wider public interest involved warrants disclosure of the information. The CPIO is directed to furnish information as sought by the appellant invariably containing names of private hospitals alongwith gross figures of payments due on account of CGHS beneficiaries. However, the details of beneficiaries need not be disclosed. This order shall be complied within 4 weeks of receipt.
Citation: Shri Aseem Takyar v. Central Govt. Health Scheme, Ministry of Health in F. No.CIC/YA/A/2015/002654