Penalty proceeding against the PIO - PIO: incessant rains floods which hit Mumbai in 2005 caused extensive damage to all the records maintained in the record Room - eventually records traced and provided - CIC: no willful delay, penalty waived
In pursuance of the Commission’s order dated 07.06.2013; No. CIC/SS/A/2013/000102, a show cause notice dated 10.06.2012 was issued to Ms. Sarit Sharma, General Manager (Finance) & CPIO, Air India Ltd., Mumbai asking her to explain why penalty of Rs. 250/ per day (subject to maximum of Rs. 25,000/) should not be imposed upon her u/s 20(1) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees: Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him: Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. of the RTI Act for
a) not responding to the Appellant’s RTI application within the stipulated time frame and
b) providing incorrect information that document sought (copy of schedule of retention of records) is not available, while the same was available with the Respondents, copy of which she submitted to the Commission along with her written statement dated 10.05.2013.
2. Ms. Sarit Sharma, General Manager & CPIO accordingly submitted her reply (to show cause notice) to the Commission vide letter dated 26.06.2013 stating/explaining as follows:
“In this connection your kindself would appreciate that all efforts were made to trace the requisite information pertaining to the years 2000/2001 sought by the appellant vide his RTI Application dated 9th June, 2011. The incessant rains/ flash floods which hit Mumbai in 2005, have caused extensive damage to all the records maintained in the record Room, located at the ground floor of the Airport Terminal Building. Most of the office files and records were completely soiled and defaced. Many of the ground floor rooms were submerged in water. Some of Air India staff also lost their life in the floods. Attempts were made to salvage/ retrieve as many records as possible and relocate the same. Owing to this reason, we were initially unable to locate/ trace the information sought by the Appellant. However after continuous efforts and attempts we were eventually able to trace the records and accordingly forwarded to the office of the C.I.C. Taking into account the circumstances of natural calamity of heavy rain and flood affecting AirIndia operations and Mumbai as a whole and the fact that eventually we were able to produce the requisite information sought by the appellant we humbly request you to kindly consider the above facts and condone the delay waive the penalty clause in the instant case.”
3. On consideration of the submission/explanation given by the CPIO hereinabove and on perusal of records, the Commission observes that there has been no willful attempt on the part of the CPIO to delay/ obstruct the supply of information to the Appellant. Moreover, the then CPIO, Shri J.J. Sawjiany, has since retired from services, as informed by the Respondents.
4. In view of the above, the penalty proceeding initiated against the CPIO/the then CPIO is hereby dropped and case is closed.
Citation: Shri Jagdish V. Gursahani v. Air India in Case No. CIC/SS/C/2013/000236