RTI application seeking details of selection of Chairperson of CBEC/ CBDT
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Ministry of Finance and Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) seeking information regarding selection of Member/ Chairperson of CBEC/CBDT for the last five years. The RTI application was transferred to the Public Information Officer (PIO) (CX-9), CBEC who advised the appellant to send a DD/Bankers cheque/ IPO payable to the P&AO, Department of Revenue for a sum of Rs. 402/- or deposit the same amount in cash, for obtaining the copies of meetings of CBEC.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant contended that he should be provided the information free of cost, since there has been a considerable delay in providing the information. The respondent contended that the appellant had filed his RTI application to the Department of Financial Services, instead of filing the RTI application to the PIO, (CX-9), CBEC. The website of CBEC clearly indicates the nature of documents held by the CBEC in general and by each PIO of the concerned sections, despite which the application was addressed to the PIO, Department of Financial Services. He transferred the application to the PIO, Department of Revenue who thereafter transferred the RTI application to the concerned PIOs, including the PIO (CX-9). The PIO (CX-9) has provided requisite reply to the appellant without any delay and the appellant is bound to pay the requisite fee for the information.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the respondent’s plea is valid to the extent that no delay has been caused on the part of the PIO (CX- 9) who replied within the stipulated period of 30 days. However, the Commission observed that there has been an unexplained delay of more than three months from since the date of filing of RTI application and the date of issue of Department of Revenue asking the PIO (CX-9) to provide the information to the appellant. The CIC directed the PIO (CX-9) to provide information to the appellant free of cost in view of the delay caused to the appellant. The Commission also advised the appellant to address his RTI applications to the correct public authority in order to avoid such delays.
The issue whether the applicant is required to send the application to the specific PIO has not been addressed by the CIC in this case. The PIO is required to transfer the application to the concerned PIO within 5 days which does not appear to have been done. In this case, even the PIO who received the RTI application did not know where the information was located hence expecting outsiders to know about it would be farfetched.
Citation: Mr. Kishanlal Mittal v. Ministry of Finance and Central Board of Excise & Customs in Case No. CIC/SS/A/2012/0001112
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/829
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission