Malafide denial of information – explanation offered by the CPIO at variance with what was sought by applicant - maximum penalty of Rs. 25,000/- imposed by CIC
1. Further to commission’s order of even number dated 14 may 2013 vide which notice was issued to the CPIO to show cause why penalty should not be imposed upon him for not having provided information to the appellant as per the provisions of the Act. Accordingly, the CPIO Shri SK Gupta presented himself before the Commission today and also submitted written submission dated 30 May 2013. It is submitted by the CPIO that on receipt of Commission’s previous order no CIC/DS/A/2012/001304 dated 4 March 2013 in the same matter, vide which directions were given to the CPIO to provide information to the appellant regarding action taken by the public authority in regard to the appellant's property (A 88, Ram Dutt Colony) with reference to Delhi High Court order in LPA no. 74 of 2004 decided on 24 October 2010, he asked the area inspector to submit a report and accordingly provided information to the appellant that "no judgment of the High Court in LPA no. 74 of 2004 decided on 24 October 2010 with regard to the appellant's property is available in assessment file." However later on personally checking the assessment file, the CPIO had found that a copy of the aforementioned judgment was in fact available in the record and that the area inspector had misreported the facts to the CPIO on the basis of which reply was sent to the appellant. It is submitted by the CPIO that the said area inspector has tendered apology for his error after receiving show cause notice from the CPIO.
2. It is further submitted by the CPIO that the information sought by the appellant was subsequently forwarded to him vide letter dated 30 May 2013.
3. A perusal of the information provided by the CPIO vide letter of 30 May 2013, reveals that CPIO has provided the appellant with information regarding disposal of appellants representation dated 18 February 2011 addressed to the Commissioner along with the aforementioned order of the Delhi High Court dated 21 April 2010 by the Assistant Assessor & Collector, Western zone vide letter dated 14 June 2011. A perusal of this letter shows that the appellant's case was disposed of by the then Assessor & Collector vide his letter dated 30 September 2008 by turning down the request of the appellant for reconsidering the ex parte assessment of his property under the Unit Area System.
4. After hearing the averments of the CPIO and on going over the facts on record, Commission notes that the responses given by the CPIO do not relate to the information sought by the appellant in his RTI application. The appellant has clearly sought information regarding whether his case for assessment of property has been considered as per the guidelines/ decision provided in the aforementioned High Court order. The CPIO has wrongly tried to restrict the information to the fact whether a hard copy of the High Court order dated 21 April 2010 is available in the file of the applicant's property. This is certainly not the information sought by the appellant. Further, the information provided to the appellant vide letter dated 30 May 2013 only provides information to the appellant regarding decision to turn down appellant's request taken by the Asst Assessor and Collector on 30 September 2008. Nowhere has the CPIO informed the appellant whether his request for being assessed in respect of his property under the unit area system had been considered in the light of the decision of the Delhi High Court dated 21 April 2010. This specific information which is described in detail in Commission’s order no. CIC/DS/C/2013/000102 dated 14 May 2013 in para 1 is required to be provided to the appellant which must be done within three weeks of receipt of the order.
5. As regards the show cause notice, Commission cannot accept the plea taken by the CPIO regarding making available information to the appellant regarding the existence of a hard copy of the aforementioned High Court order in the property file of the appellant as this information was in fact never sought by the appellant. Accordingly, Commission imposes maximum penalty of Rs 25,000/– on the former CPIO, Assessment and Collection Department, Najafgarh zone, Shri SK Gupta, (currently posted as Deputy Assessor and Collector, Najafgarh zone) for not having provided information to the appellant as per the provisions of the RTI Act. (19 April 2012 onwards as information is still not provided).
(Smt. Deepak Sandhu)
Information Commissioner (DS)
Citation: Shri S.R.K. Sehgal v. South Delhi Municipal Corporation in Adjunct to Complaint: No. CIC/DS/C/2013/000102