NCPCR directed to strengthen the infrastructure for implementing the RTI regime
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) seeking information regarding action taken on complaint and copy of all documents associated with examining and disposing of the matter. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information under section 8(1)(g) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes; of the RTI Act stating that the sought information pertains to minor child and the appellant has no relationship with the parents of the child. The appellant filed the first appeal with the First appellate Authority (FAA). Not receiving any reply, he filed the second appeal with the Central Information Commission (CIC). The Commission remanded the matter to the FAA with directions to dispose of the first appeal by passing a speaking order. The CIC also directed the FAA to endorse a copy of his order to the Commission clearly indicating the reason for delay if any in disposing of the first appeal.Not receiving a response from the FAA, appellant once again moved the Commission in complaint.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant stated that he is the paternal uncle of the child and that along with his first appeal, he had enclosed consent letter from the parents of the child stating that they had no objection if the requested information was passed on to the appellant. The FAA stated that due to acute shortage of staff, he was unable to provide information to the appellant and also that the delay was not intentional. He further explained that he was overburdened with administrative, legal and court matters without the support of a regular branch officer as also on account of coping with a large number of RTI applications. The FAA also provided an unsigned note on the current status of the complaint which is the subject matter of the RTI application to the Commission and stated that a copy of the same has not been provided to the appellant.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that shortage of staff and preoccupation with other matters are not legitimate or acceptable reasons for not having adhered to the provisions of the RTI Act. Noting that as per section 19(1) Any person who, does not receive a decision within the time specified in sub¬section (1) or clause (a) of sub-section (3) of section 7, or is aggrieved by a decision of the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may within thirty days from the expiry of such period or from the receipt of such a decision prefer an appeal to such officer who is senior in rank to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer as the case may be, in each public authority: Provided that such officer may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of thirty days if he or she is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time. and section 19(6) An appeal under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) shall be disposed of within thirty days of the receipt of the appeal or within such extended period not exceeding a total of forty-five days from the date of filing thereof, as the case may be, for reasons to be recorded in writing. of the Act, the FAA is supposed to dispose of the matter within a period of 45 days from the date of filing of the appeal, the CIC held that the FAA had not only ignored these provisions, but also chose to ignore the directions of the Commission. The CIC warned the FAA to be more careful in future while discharging his responsibilities the onus of which has been placed upon him in the transparency Act. The Commission also directed the FAA to provide full and complete information as sought by the appellant. Under section 19(8)(a) In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to require the public authority to take any such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of this Act, including (i) by providing access to information, if so requested, in a particular form; (ii) by appointing a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be; (iii) by publishing certain information or categories of information; (iv) by making necessary changes to its practices in relation to the maintenance, management and destruction of records; (v) by enhancing the provision of training on the right to information for its officials; (vi) by providing it with an annual report in compliance with clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 4; of the RTI Act, the CIC recommended that the public authority through its Secretary should take appropriate steps to strengthen the infrastructure for implementing the RTI regime.
Citation: Mr. Anurag Dwivedi v. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in Adjunct to Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2012/000936
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1365
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission