PIO explained the reasons for delay - CIC: From the PIO’s submissions it is apparent that he has not acted in a manner so as to consciously & deliberately block the request for information; imposition of penalty would not be justified
Information sought: The appellant has sought the following information:-
A few retired officials viz. Shri D Basava Raju, M Hanumantharao, M V R J S Sarma and MSSR Murty, have made representations to CMD, New Delhi on the anomaly arisen consequent to restricting the Stenographer cadre pay scales and consequential implementation of the scales after formation of BSNL w.e.f. 01/10/2000 which were sent by registered post vide RL No. 211092 dt 23/05/2012; RL No. A RN 821265800IN dated 16/06/2012, RL No. 1865 dated 07/06/2012 etc., and no reply has been received from the Corporate Office, New Delhi on the representation. Please supply the information, the nature of action taken on the said representations and note sheet.
Grounds for the Second Appeal: The CPIO has not provided the desired information.
Relevant Facts emerging during the Hearing on 05/08/2014: The following were present
Appellant: Mr. M. S. S. R. Murty through VC
Respondent: Mr. H N Verma CAPIO, Mr. Parimal Kumar & Mr. Prem Prakash The appellant stated that in the matter at hand a few retired officers had sent a representation to the CMD regarding anomaly in their pay and in reply to the RTI application the respondent informed that the said representation has not been received whereas the postal authorities have confirmed that the letter has been duly delivered to the Corporate office of BSNL on 28/05/2012. He further stated that consequently the reply to the RTI application was delayed and the information received only on 17/04/2013. He pleaded for initiating penal proceedings against the CPIO for the delay in providing the information. The CAPIO stated that he has not brought the relevant file and some time should be permitted to make his submissions.
Interim Decision notice dated 05/08/2014: As requested by the CAPIO it is decided to grant adjournment and invite written submissions from him demonstrating in detail his stand on the issue at hand, so that full facts are brought on record. Accordingly, the CPIO should furnish his submissions to the Commission by 25/08/2014 The CPIO should send his submissions to the Commission by post and also by e-mail at email@example.com The matter is adjourned for 12/09/2014 at 04.00 PM”
Relevant Facts emerging during the Hearing on 12/09/2014: The following were present
Appellant: Mr. M. S. S. R. Murty through VC
Respondent: Mr. H. S. Rawat, ACPIO;
The CPIO vide his written submissions dated 22/08/2014 has explained that the appellant’s RTI application was received on 14/08/2012 and immediately vide letter dated 16/08/2012 he requested for the status of the representation from the concerned section which vide its letter dated 07/09/2012 informed that the representation has not been received and accordingly vide letter dated 12/09/2012 he requested the appellant to send a copy for necessary action. It has been further stated that on receipt of a copy of the second appeal on 25/02/2013 the RTI cell again referred the matter to the PPS to the CMD on 27/02/2013 and PS to Director (HR) on 01/03/2013, in response to which the Director (HR) informed that the representation is referred to the personal section on 06/03/2013 and the personal section supplied the information on 21/03/2013 which was sent to the appellant promptly vide letter dated 25/03/2013. The ACPIO in his oral submissions pointed out that the RTI cell never held back/blocked any information from the appellant and promptly supplied whatever information was gathered by them from the concerned sections. He vehemently pleaded that there was no intent whatsoever to delay/deny any information to the appellant.
It is seen that the Hon’ble High Court of Punjab & Haryana in its decision dated 04/03/2010 [civil writ petition no. 6504 of 2009 – State of Punjab vs. SIC] while setting aside the penalty order passed by the SIC has observed as under:
“3. The penalty provision under Section 20 is only to sensitize the public authorities that they should act with all due alacrity and not hold up information which a person seeks to obtain. It is not every delay that should be visited with penalty. If there is a delay and it is explained, the question will only revolve on whether the explanation is acceptable or not…….”
The CPIO has explained that he has promptly gathered the information from the concerned sections and replied timely to the appellant’s RTI application and as soon as the personal department provided the information the same was conveyed to the appellant. He has vehemently pleaded that there was no delay whatsoever in dealing with the matter at his end. It is seen that the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in its decision dated 02/02/2012 (W.P.(C) 766/2010 & CM No. 1611/2010 Municipal Corporation of Delhi vs Sunil Kumar) has held as under:-
“The aspect of levy of penalty on the PIO is governed by Section 20 of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act)……………………..…….The crux of the said provision is that the PIO should have obstructed the supply of the information with intent or should have acted consciously and deliberately in a manner so as to block the provision of the information.” From the CPIO’s submissions it is apparent that he has not acted in a manner so as to consciously and deliberately block the request for information. Imposition of penalty on the CPIO, therefore, would not be justified.
The matter is closed.
Citation: Mr. M. S. S. R. Murty v. BSNL in File No. CIC/BS/A/2013/001305/5987