SSC unable to attend RTI applications for months due to shortage of staff
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) seeking copy of the evaluated OMR sheet of his son. The Public Information Officer (PIO) did not provide any information to the appellant. The concerned PIO submitted that although he had received the RTI application on transfer, he got transferred out of the section and therefore, he had no occasion to deal with the application. As he was posted back to the section again he searched out the RTI application and the relevant information.
During the hearing the before Central Information Commission (CIC), the PIO submitted that although he had received the RTI application on transfer on 2 November 2012, he got transferred out of the section on 6 November and, therefore, had no occasion to deal with the application. He further explained that he was posted back to the section again in February 2013. After receiving the notice from the CIC for the hearing, he searched out the RTI application and the relevant information. The CIC noted that there has been considerable delay in the case which is similar to several such cases of the SSC where the RTI applications are simply not attended to for months on end until the matter comes before the CIC. The CIC observed that there has to be some permanent solution to this situation and the same is in the hands of the management of the SSC.
The PIO also submitted that he and some others like him also perform the post-examination duty which involves handling of millions of evaluated answer sheets, tabulation of marks and publication of results. Since the examination is a time bound process, they find it very difficult to choose between the examination at hand and the large number of RTI applications received from the candidates on completion of each such examination. The PIO also stated that the piling of answer sheets in large heaps also makes it quite difficult to retrieve the answer sheet of any particular candidate given the extremely inadequate manpower available to these sections. The Commission observed that these were serious practical problems, unless the management of the SSC strengthens the PIO concerned in these sections with additional and competent hands, the PIOs would continue to default on the deadline fixed for replying to the information seekers and subject themselves to penalty under the provisions of the RTI Act.
View of CIC
The Commission directed the PIO to place their order before the Chairman, SSC so that he can take stock of the situation and post additional hands immediately. The CIC also directed the PIO to provide a copy of the evaluated answer sheet of his son to the appellant. Under 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 CIC awarded a compensation of Rs. 5000/- to the appellant for the inconvenience caused to him because of the inordinate delay. The Commission also held that they were not imposing any penalty on the PIO concerned not just only because he had been transferred out of the section soon after receiving the application but also because of the circumstances stated above.
Citation: Mr. Babu Lal Meena v. Staff Selection Commission in File No. CIC/SM/A/2013/000308
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1413
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission