Seeking rules for allotment/ cancellation of allotment of Government property under RTI
The Central Information Commission in earlier order had issued a show cause notice to the Public Information Officer (PIO) Directorate of Estates; PIO Office of Director General (Works) and PIO office of Chief Engineer, Bangalore, for personal hearing prior to imposition of penalty. The Commission observed that the original RTI application was addressed the Directorate of Estates whose PIO chose to dissipate his responsibilities by merely forwarding the RTI application instead of providing information as held by them to the appellant. The PIO (HQ), Bangalore provided part information and asked the appellant to approach the Directorate of Estates, New Delhi for information on the other points, stating that these were the matters of policy.
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The argument of the PIO that they made several efforts to approach the appellant to ascertain as to the area/locality in respect of which information was sought was not accepted by the Commission as the RTI application was obvious that the information sought is not location specific and pertains to the general rules prescribed by the Directorate of Estates pertaining to the issues raised in the RTI application. The Commission observed that the guidelines and rules for allotment/cancellation of allotment are uniform across the country and are framed by the Directorate of Estates who is the principal owner of the Central government properties and thus it is not possible that the Directorate has no knowledge of these rules. Commission also rejected the arguments given by the respondents that they are not aware of any rules regarding who is required to pay for the outages of electricity for works done for maintaining/ renovating the government accommodation which is already occupied. Noting that the RTI application was received on 13 October 2010 but the information was finally provided to the appellant only on 25 January 2012, the Commission imposed a penalty of Rs. 12,500/- each on the PIO, Directorate of Estates and the PIO, SW III, Bangalore which is the maximum penalty that can be imposed as there had been delay of 385 days.
Unnecessary transfer of application to the sub-ordinate office is commonly done without caring to look whether the information is available with the office receiving the application. In this case, the PIO, Directorate of Estates to whom the original RTI application was addressed, transferred it to the Director (P&WA) and from him to the Chief engineer (SZ III) and finally to the CPIO office of Director General (Works) and CPIO office of Chief engineer, Bangalore. Such transfer of applications may lead to imposition of penalty. Further, this information should be made available to the citizens on the website of the organisation.
Citation: Shri M. A. Verghese v. Min. of Urban Development in Adjunct 2 to Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2011/000804
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/409
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