Penalty of Rs. 25,000/- imposed on the PIO of CIC
Through an application dated 20/04/2011 filed under the RTI Act, information about the work allocation to information commissioner to hear/decide second appeals filed by the citizens in respect of certain file of Bharat Scouts and guides was sought. Information about appeals and complaints was also sought. When no reply was received, the first appeal was filed on 31/05/2011 and through an order dated 08/06/2011, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) directed the PIO Mr. K.L. Das to provide complete information to the appellant within 10 working days to disclose the information.
The Appellant submitted before the Central Information Commission (CIC) that he has received the information satisfactorily only on 13/04/2012. Through a written submission, the PIO informed that the relevant file was not readily available/ traceable and hence could not furnish the information. He also stated that he could not comply with the order of the FAA given on 08/06/2011 since the file was not found. He further states that since a new ministry was allocated on 27/08/2010, around 3500 files and a number of related papers were transferred to his Registry. In the process of receiving and keeping these records the appellants’ file got mixed-up and could not be traced despite efforts. He admitted that an error was made in not sending the information to the Appellant and added that a similar situation exists in some other cases also.
View of CIC
The CIC noted that no information or communication was sent to the appellant and the information was finally sent to him only on 13/04/2012. The Commission observed that at the very least, the PIO should have informed the Appellant that the relevant file was misplaced/ untraceable. The Commission held that either the file should have been located within a reasonable time and the information provided or a Police Complaint should have been made for the loss of the said file. As per the provisions of Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act 2005, the Commission found it a fit case for levying penalty on Mr. K. L. Das, PIO & Dy. Secretary and imposed the maximum penalty of Rs. 25,000/- on him. The amount was directed to be deducted at the rate of Rs.5000/ per month every month from the salary of Mr. K. L. Das and remitted by the 10th of every month starting from June 2012. The total amount of Rs.25000 /- will be remitted by 10th of October, 2012.
The case highlights that even the PIO of the CIC is not immune from levy of penalty. Even after almost seven years of the coming in force of the RTI Act, it is pitiable to see that it is not being implemented at the level of CIC which is expected to foresee the implementation of the RTI Act all over the country. Readers may not from the reply of the PIO that “a similar condition exists in some other cases too” thereby meaning that many more cases of penalty are likely to follow. Hopefully, it would put set a precedent and lead to cleaning of the house and set things of order.
Citation: Mr. Rajeev Sharma v. Mr. K. L. Das PIO & Dy. Secretary, Central Information Commission in Decision No. CIC/SM/A/2011/001997/SG/18581Penalty
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/332
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission