PIO: extensive search was carried out but the required documents could not be located; it is difficult to pinpoint any single person for loss of the records; poor record keeping has contributed to the information not being traceable - CIC: appeal disposed
Information sought: The appellant has sought the following information:-
1. On which date was the one year time deposit account no 980528 opened in the City PO Etawah
2. Provide the copy of the Index Card of the said account.
3. Whether the details of this account are maintained in ledger register. Provide the copy of all the documents related to account no. 950528.
4. Whether the nomination has been made in the register for the same account. Provide the copy of the documents till 01/10/2009.
Grounds for the Second Appeal: The CPIO has not provided the desired information.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing held on 04/08/2014: The following were present
Appellant: Mr. Y K Gupta appellant’s representative through VC M: 9412182430
The appellant’s representative stated that Shri Wasim the late husband of the appellant had a term deposit of Rs.40000/- with the postal department and the original receipt and the pass book are available with her and he wants a copy of the SB 3 form executed by the deceased. He further stated that in compliance of the FAA’s order dated 24/08/2012 the respondent have informed that SB 3 form is not available. He requested that an inquiry to be held to ascertain the correct position. The CPIO, inspite of being put on notice, is not present for making his submissions.
Interim Decision notice dated 04/08/2014:
The Commission takes a serious view of the lackadaisical/callous attitude adopted by the CPIO who has not bothered to attend the hearing inspite of being put on notice. The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in its decision dated 13/09/2013 (W.P.(C) 3660/2012 & CM 7664/2012 Union of India vs. Vishwas Bhamburkar) has held as under:
“7. This can hardly be disputed that if certain information is available with a public authority, that information must necessarily be shared with the applicant under the Act unless such information is exempted from disclosure under one or more provisions of the Act. It is not uncommon in the government departments to evade disclosure of the information taking the standard plea that the information sought by the applicant is not available. Ordinarily, the information which at some point of time or the other was available in the records of the government, should continue to be available with the concerned department unless it has been destroyed in accordance with the rules framed by that department for destruction of old record. Therefore, whenever an information is sought and it is not readily available, a thorough attempt needs to be made to search and locate the information wherever it may be available. It is only in a case where despite a thorough search and inquiry made by a responsible officer, it is concluded that the information sought by the applicant cannot be traced or was never available with the government or has been destroyed in accordance with the rules of the concerned department that the CPIO/PIO would be justified in expressing his inability to provide the desired information. Even in the case where it is found that the desired information though available in the record of the government at some point of time, cannot be traced despite best efforts made in this regard, the department concerned must necessarily fix the responsibility for the loss of the record and take appropriate departmental action against the officers/ officials responsible for loss of the record. Unless such a course of action is adopted, it would be possible for any department/ office, to deny the information which otherwise is not exempted from disclosure, wherever the said department/ office finds it inconvenient to bring such information into public domain, and that in turn, would necessarily defeat the very objective behind enactment of the Right to Information Act. Accordingly, the FAA/DPS, O/o PMG, Agra is directed to conduct an enquiry into the circumstances in which the aforesaid records have gone missing and submit a detailed report to the Commission on or before 04/09/2014. The report should clearly identify the person(s) responsible and fix accountability for loss of the records. The report should be sent to the Commission by post and also by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The matter is adjourned for 10/09/2014 at 04.00 PM with the direction to the FAA to ensure that the CPIO attends the hearing without fail.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing on 10/09/2014: The following were present
Appellant: Absent Respondent: Mr. Ram Sahay CPIO through VC
The appellant was given an opportunity to participate in the hearing, however, she is absent.
The Assistant Director, O/o CPMG vide his report dated 03/09/2014 has informed that an extensive search was carried out but form SB-3 could not be located. He has stated that the postal assistants handling the seat were frequently changed and hence it is difficult to pin point any single person for loss of the records. The Assistant Director has submitted that poor record keeping has contributed to the information not being traceable. The CPIO informed that after discussions with the appellant/her representative he has submitted her claim for approval and the competent authority’s decision is awaited.
The respondent have submitted that all efforts were made to trace form SB-3 but without success. The CPIO is directed to followup with the competent authority and convey the decision to the appellant at the earliest. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Mrs. Nasim Begum W/o Late Wasim v. Department of Posts in File No. CIC/BS/A/2013/001297/5964