No response was given to application seeking information about status of appellant’s PF claim - CIC: This is illegal and blatant denial of information on the lame excuse that the records could not be traced; Penalty of Rs 25,000 imposed on PIO
1. The appellant sought information about status of his PF claim. Specifically he wanted to know action taken on his representation dated 29.08.2016. Because of lack of response, the appellant approached this Commission.
2. The Commission’s order dated 07.02.2018:
2. The Commission directs the respondent authority to provide certified copies of entire information, within 10 days from the date of receipt of this Order. The Commission also directs the CPIO as on the date of RTI application to show-cause why maximum penalty should not be imposed against him for not replying to the RTI till date. All the explanations should reach the Commission before 09.03.2018 and the case is posted for compliance and penalty proceedings on 13.03.2018.
3. Shri G.S. Chauhan, CPIO/APFC in his explanation dated 13.03.2018, stated as under:
“(a) The application dated 21.02.2017 as preferred by Smt. Kiran Kumari under RTI Act was received in R.O., Meerut on 23.02.2017 with the requirement to provide the information regarding settlement of her claims (Form-20 & Form-10D) for PF and Pension.
(b) In reply, the entire information duly signed by competent authority has since been provided to the above named applicant. In this regard, a letter no. 160493 dated 12.03.2018 has been sent to the applicant.
(c) It is worth mentioning here that the delay in settlement of the aforesaid claims was attributed to the fact that the claim forms were received in R.O. Meerut on 03.03.2016 and 28.08.2017 but they were returned to concerned person/establishment reflecting the reason as mismatch of the name of member from the office records and non-attestation by authorized person of the establishment. Finally, the claim forms were received in R.O., Meerut on 24.10.2017 and settled on 01.12.2017. Further, the pension related documents (IDS, etc.) were sent to EPFO, R.O., Lucknow, on 01.12.2017 for issuing the PPO from there as desired by claimant/applicant.
(d) However, it is humbly submitted that the compliance towards any further order passed by your august personage will be ensured at the level of competent authority at the earliest under intimation to the information-seeker accordingly.
(e) In view of the above, I request your honour to kindly discharge the undersigned of the case and oblige”.
4. The officer agreed to the fact that the file of the appellant was not traceable. It is surprising that the respondent authority has not given any response within the stipulated 30 days’ time from the date of receipt of this RTI application. Though he claimed that he gave information, it was only after CIC’s direction. This is illegal and blatant denial of information on the lame excuse that the records could not be traced. For an ordinary workman like the applicant, the PF amount is like a security, non-settlement of PF payment issues will seriously affect the maintenance of family of the PF holder. It indicates the failure of governance on the part of the public authority.
5. Appellant had to wait for more than a year to secure information on the direction of CIC. Hence, it a fit case for imposing penalty considering complete negligence of CPIO towards the RTI Act and rights of appellant. The Commission imposes maximum penalty of Rs. 25,000/- against Shri Gulab Singh Chauhan, CPIO. The Appellate Authority is directed to recover the amount of Rs. 25,000/- from the salary payable to, Shri Gulab Singh Chauhan, CPIO by way of Demand Draft drawn in favour of ‘PAO CAT’ New Delhi in 5 equal monthly instalments. The first instalment should reach the Commission by 18.05.2018 and the last instalment should reach by 18.09.2018. The Demand Draft should be sent to Shri S.P. Beck, Joint Secretary & Addl. Registrar, Room No. 505, Central Information Commission, CIC Bhawan, Baba Gangnath Marg, Munirka, New Delhi-110067.
(M. Sridhar Acharyulu)
Central Information Commissioner
Citation: Kiran Kumari v. PIO, EPFO, Meerut in CIC/EPFOG/A/2017/130175, Date of Decision – 16.03.2018