Respondent: RTI applications have been filed by the same person as the handwriting of all the RTI applications dealt herein is exactly the same; at least 30 RTI applications in different names with similar queries have been filed - CIC: Appellant warned
Respondent: RTI applications have been filed by the same person as the handwriting of all the RTI applications dealt herein is exactly the same; at least 30 RTI applications in different names with similar queries have been filed - CIC: Appellant is warned to desist from misusing the provisions of the RTI Act for settling his personal scores
The appellant is not present. At the very outset, the respondents stated that the RTI applications have been filed by the same person as the handwriting of all the RTI applications dealt herein is exactly the same. The information sought relates to completion of work orders, preparation of bills, dates of payment of the same, number of pending bills of contractors since 2003, names of officials responsible for delay in payment, period of delay, in addition to seeking details of Shri Manoj Kumar, JE, in the respondent authority, etc. regarding pending payment of M/s Gyan Const Co. against work done by the agency. The PIO in response to all the RTI applications has given point-wise reply; the FAA has disposed of appeals, after taking due notice of facts of the case. It is impertinent to note here that the appellant was neither present at the time of the first appeal hearing nor is he present before the Commission.
As for the handwriting in the RTI applications, the Commission is no expert, however, a bare perusal reveals that the RTI applications are indeed filed by the same person, in different names, on the same address. The respondent stated that they are compelled to answer each RTI application by the appellant, even when he is agitating similar matter in different names. The respondents urged that due to shortage of staff in their Dept., a lot of time is spent in replying to the appellant who has filed at least 30 RTI applications in different names with similar queries, having the same handwriting regarding pending payment of M/s Gyan Const Co. against work done by the agency.
Further, the respondent stated that many a times, the appellant has been offered various opportunities of inspection of record, but he has not availed the same and has made a habit of filing second appeals before the Commission to harass the public authority. A written submission dt. 08.08.2014 has been received from the respondent in this regard, along with a list of RTI applications filed by the appellant in different names.
After hearing the respondent and on perusal of documents, the Commission does not specifically wish to go into the queries of the appellant.
The Commission would like to emphasise that though the Respondents are duty-bound to supply information asked for by the Appellants, the Appellants are also required to keep in mind the objectives of the RTI Act as outlined in the Preamble to the Act: and that is, to introduce the elements of transparency and accountability in the functioning of the public authorities and to contain corruption. In this context, it would be pertinent to refer to the following observations of Pasayat J. in Ashok Kumar Pandey vs. The State of West Bengal (AIR 2003 SC 280 Para 11): “It is depressing to note that on account of such trumpery proceedings initiated before the Courts, innumerable days are wasted, which time otherwise could have been spent for the disposal of cases of the genuine litigants. Though we spare no efforts in fostering and developing the laudable concept of PIL and extending our long arm of sympathy to the poor, the ignorant, the oppressed and the needy whose fundamental rights are infringed and violated and whose grievances go unnoticed, unrepresented and unheard; yet we cannot avoid but expressing our opinion that while genuine litigants with legitimate grievances relating to civil matters involving properties worth hundreds of millions of rupees and criminal cases in which persons sentenced to death facing gallows under untold agony and persons sentenced to life imprisonment and kept in incarceration for long years, persons suffering from undue delay in service matters, Government or private, persons awaiting the disposal of cases wherein huge amounts of public revenue or unauthorized collection of tax amounts are locked up, detenus expecting their release from the detention orders etc. etc. are all standing in a long serpentine queue for years with the fond hope of getting into the Courts and having their grievances redressed, the busybodies, meddlesome interlopers, wayfarers or officious interveners having absolutely no public interest except for personal gain or private profit either of themselves or as proxy of others or for any other extraneous motivation or for glare of publicity break the queue muffing their faces by wearing the mask of public interest litigation and get into the Courts by filing vexatious and frivolous petitions and thus criminally waste the valuable time of the Courts, as a result of which the queue standing outside the doors of the Courts never moves, which piquant situation creates frustration in the minds of the genuine litigants and resultantly they lose faith in the administration of our judicial system.” What the Hon’ble Supreme Court has stated in regard to the PIL in the above cited cases will mutatis mutandis apply in case of vexatious and frivolous petitions submitted under the RTI Act.
The Delhi High Court in Praveen Kumar Jha V. Bhel Educational Management Board And Ors. [W.P.(C) 5688/2010 and CM No. 11183/2010], held:–
“Further, while Section 20 of the RTI Act empowers the CIC to levy costs on PIOs who are found to have obstructed the furnishing of information to an applicant, there is no corresponding provision for levy of penalties or costs on a complainant if the complaint is found to be vexatious. Likewise, Section 20(2) 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 and persistently, failed 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 recommend for disciplinary action against the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, under the service rules applicable to him. RTI Act permits the CIC to recommend disciplinary action against an errant CPIO. There is no provision concerning the complainant….”
It is certain that this variety of the vexatious and frivolous petitions is not going to serve the interest of the Right to Information ⎯ the self-serving, pious protestations of serial petitioners such as this one notwithstanding. Further, the Appellant is warned to desist from misusing the provisions of the RTI Act for settling his personal scores with the respondent. In case the appellant continues to prefer RTI applications which are vexatious and frivolous in nature with a view to disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority, then the PIO will be free to deny information under the provisions of section 7(9) An information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question. of the Act. The appeals are dismissed accordingly.
Citation: Shri R.K. Chauhan & Shri N. Singh v. North Delhi Municipal Corp., Delhi in F.No.CIC/DS/A/2013/001038-YA F.No.CIC/DS/A/2013/001079-YA F.No.CIC/DS/A/2013/001039-YA