Respondent claimed that the RTI application sent by Registered post was not received - CIC: FAA to inquire into the ‘missing’ RTI application & take appropriate action against those responsible for misplacing it; Compensation of Rs. 2,500/- granted
O R D E R
1. Shri K.K. Garg filed an application dated 11.08.2015 under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), O/o the Chief Controller of Accounts (CCA), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) seeking information on ten points pertaining to his complaint dated 09.04.2012 against one Shri Bhagwan Deen, Accounts Officer (AO).
2. The appellant filed a second appeal dated 12.12.2015 before the Commission on the grounds that the CPIO and the First Appellate Authority (FAA) have not provided any information. The appellant requested the Commission to direct the CPIO concerned to provide information sought by him.
3. The appellant Shri K.K. Garg attended the hearing through video conferencing. The respondent Shri Madan Lal, Sr. A. O. (Admn), MHA was present in person. 4. The appellant submitted that no reply in response to the RTI application was received from the respondent, therefore, he preferred a first appeal which was disposed of by the FAA after the lapse of the stipulated time. The appellant also stated that as per the Postal Department, the RTI application was delivered on 14.08.2015 in the respondent’s office. The appellant further submitted that the FAA had disposed of the first appeal without granting him an opportunity of hearing, which is against the principles of natural justice. The appellant requested the Commission to initiate enquiry with regard to the missing RTI application, take action against the erring CPIO and award him compensation for the mental harassment caused to him. 5. The respondent submitted that the RTI application of the appellant was not received and therefore, no reply in respect of the same could be provided to the appellant. The respondent further submitted that the first appeal in the matter was received on 29.10.2015 and it was disposed of vide order dated 11.12.2015.
6. The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that as per the appellant, the RTI application was sent through Registered post and the same was delivered in the respondent organization. However, as per the respondent, RTI application of the appellant was not received and hence, no reply within the stipulated time could be provided to the appellant. The Commission, further observes that record keeping and proper maintenance of files is a key function of any Public Authority. In view of this, it is imperative to ascertain the facts leading to the misplacement of the RTI application dated 11.08.2015 filed by the appellant. The Commission, therefore, directs the FAA, MHA to inquire into the matter of the ‘missing’ RTI application and to ascertain as to whether the RTI application was actually misplaced or the CPIO had taken that plea to deny information to the appellant. The FAA shall also, if required, take appropriate departmental action against the officers/officials responsible for the misplacement of the RTI application. A copy of the inquiry report along with the action taken report may be provided to the Commission as well as to the appellant within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.
7. The Commission further notes that the appellant has faced inconvenience and detriment due to non-availability of the documents and hence, deserves to be compensated. Therefore, in exercise of the powers vested in the CIC as per 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 Commission, directs the Department to compensate the appellant by an amount of Rs.2500/-. Accordingly, the CPIO should ensure that this amount is remitted to the appellant by demand draft/pay order within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order.
8. The Commission, with regard to the appellant’s plea of not getting an opportunity of hearing before the FAA, observes that the issue of not granting an opportunity of hearing to the appellant has been dealt in detail by the Commission vide case no. CIC/SM/A/2013/000312 dated 18.07.2012 as under:-
“4. During the hearing, among other submissions, the Appellant specifically wanted us to take note of the fact that the Appellate Authority had not given him any opportunity of hearing even after he expressly requested for that. He also, with the help of some information he had obtained through RTI from the CVC, submitted that the Appellate Authority in the CVC had not given any personal hearing to anyone except in three cases since the Right to Information Act came into being. Although the Right to Information (RTI) Act or the rules made there under do not prescribe in detail the procedure to be followed by the Appellate Authority in dealing with first appeals, by convention, the Appellate Authority should give an opportunity of hearing to any Appellant if the Appellant expressly wants to be heard. Therefore, we would like the Appellate Authority to bear this in mind and, wherever any such request is made, to afford an opportunity of hearing to that Appellant.”
In view of the above ratio, the Commission would like to counsel the FAA, MHA, to provide the appellants, as far as possible, an opportunity of hearing before deciding the appeals.
9. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.
10. Copy of decision be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri K.K. Garg v. O/o the Chief Controller of Accounts in Decision No. CIC/SB/A/2016/000111 Dated 01.03.2017