Minorities Commission was asked for information on action taken on appellant’s petitions for financial aid - CIC: Nonpayment of fee is not prescribed ground for rejection of request; PIO should have acted in a more sensitive and proactive manner
1. Shri Mohd. Salim filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) on 18.12.2013 with the CPIO, National Minority Commission, New Delhi seeking information on action taken on his petitions for financial aid, given in numerous newspapers, and to the Prime Minister’s Office.
2. Since there was no response from the CPIO concerned, the appellant filed the first appeal dated 11.02.2014 to the F.A.A., National Minorities Commission. Having not received any reply from the F.A.A. also, the appellant filed second appeal dated 03.07.2014 before the Commission.
3. The appellant Shri Mohd. Salim and the respondent Shri Shariq Saeed, CPIO and Under Secretary, National Commission for Monitories were present in person.
4. The appellant stated that he had sought information on the action taken on PMO’s letter dated 21.03.2013 addressed to Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh. The appellant further submitted that the respondent should have informed him of the action taken on his petition and also guided him in the matter. The appellant also submitted that he should be provided information regarding financial aid for minorities for self-employment.
5. The respondent submitted that vide letter dated 09.01.2014 the appellant was informed that he has not deposited the required fee with his RTI application. The respondent also stated that the appellant was informed vide letter dated 28.06.2013 that his petition has been forwarded to the Govt. of Uttar Pradesh. The appellant was also informed that the National Commission of Minority was not competent to grant free medical aid. The respondent submitted that since the PMO’s letter was addressed to Chief Secretary, U.P. further action in the matter was to be taken by the Government of Uttar Pradesh.
6. The Commission observes that the respondent had not provided the information to the appellant on the ground that fee was not submitted with his RTI application. The RTI Act was enacted to ensure that all the citizens should have the right to information and this right cannot not be denied merely on technical grounds. The Commission in CIC Order No. CIC/SA/A/2014/001610 dated 21.05.2015 held that “…Nonpayment of fee is not prescribed ground for rejection of request. In fact, this is not at all a case of RTI request without payment of fee. Applicant is also not claiming BPL status. The very fact that he has paid fee through court fee stamps proves his intention to pay. When guidelines goad the public authority to be sympathetic to an applicant without paying fee, if does not need special mention that it cannot take technical excuse about form of payment to deny or delay the information.” In view of this, it is expected that the CPIO should have acted in a more sensitive manner. A proactive approach by the CPIO would have been mitigated the hardships faced by the appellant.
7. The Commission finds that the appellant is now interested in seeking information regarding specific schemes of the Ministry of Minority Affairs for economic empowerment of minorities. The appellant was advised to approach the Ministry of Minority Affairs/District Administration in this regard.
8. The appeal is disposed of. Copy of decision be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Mohd. Salim v. National Minority Commission in Decision No.CIC/YA/A/2014/001826/SB/