Is over workload a reasonable cause for delay? Can PIO claim as a ground to escape penalty?
The appellant filed an application u der the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) seeking copy of the evaluated OMR sheet for the examination in which he had appeared. Even after the directions of the First Appellate Authority (FAA) the Public Information Officer (PIO) did not provide information to the appellant. The Central Information Commission (CIC) directed the PIO to provide the information and also issued a show cause notice to the PIO for not providing the desired information in time. Nearly 14 months after the appellant had filed the RTI application, the information was provided to him.
During the show cause hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the PIO submitted that he had not been able to provide the information because of the huge volume of work he had to handle during the period being in charge of the confidential branch of the SSC. He explained that this branch dealt with very large number of examination related papers and extracting any specific answer sheet from the pile of documents was very time consuming if not impossible.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the explanation of the PIO was not appropriate. The CIC held that even if it is assumed that the PIO had been making efforts to locate the answer sheet, he should have informed the information seeker about such efforts. The Commission imposed a penalty of Rs. 10,000/- on the PIO for the delay in providing the information. Under section 19(8)(b) 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 compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered; of the RTI Act the CIC awarded a compensation of Rs. 10,000/- to the appellant for the detriment and harassment caused to him.
Citation: Mr. Saurabh Pandey v. Staff Selection Commission in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/001123
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1291
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission