There was a delay of 88 days in transferring the RTI application – New PIO joined the Department on promotion but was not assigned any work; the earlier PIO has retired on superannuation - CIC: penalty proceeding dropped
1. The Commission through its order dated 23.01.2013 had directed that a show cause notice be issued to Shri Zuver Ahmed Khan, Under Secretary & CPIO, Department of Justice asking him to show cause why penalty of Rs. 22,000/- (250×88 days) should not be imposed upon him under section 20(1) 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, refused 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 impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees: Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him: Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. of the RTI Act for causing a delay of 88 days in transferring the RTI application dated 26.07.2011 of the Appellant, Shri N.C. Tiwari. The Commission observed that the CPIO, Department of Justice did not provide a copy of the RTI application inspite of the request of the CPIO, Department of Legal Affairs. The CPIO, Department of Justice had provided a copy of the RTI application to the CPIO, Department of Legal Affairs only after getting a copy of the order of the First Appellate Authority, Department of Legal Affairs which has prima facie caused a delay of 88 days in transferring the Appellant’s RTI application to the CPIO, Department of Legal Affairs.
2. A show cause notice dated 29.01.2013 was accordingly issued to Shri Zuver Ahmed Khan, CPIO, Department of Justice, New Delhi.
3. Shri Khan accordingly submitted his reply (to show cause notice) to the Commission on 04.01.2013 wherein he has, interalia, explained that he joined Department of Justice on promotion as Under Secretary on adhoc basis on 06.09.2011. From 06.09.2011 to 30.10.2011 he remained under posting and was not assigned any work by the Department of Justice from 06.09.2011 to 30.10.2011. Thereafter he was relieved from the Department of Justice for undergoing Level ‘D’ Training in ISTM from 31.10.2011 to 23.12.2011. After completion of training, he joined the Department of Justice on 26.12.2011. Thereafter on the very first day of his joining the Department of Justice, he signed a letter dated 26.12.2011 by which a copy of RTI application was forwarded to the CPIO, Department of Legal Affairs. He has thus pleaded that he was not concerned with the instant RTI application of the Appellant. He has also mentioned that Shri S.K. Srivastava, the then Deputy Secretary, who was dealing with instant RTI application of the Appellant as CPIO, has retired on superannuation on 30.11.2011. He has accordingly requested to drop the penalty proceeding against him.
4. Considering the fact that Shri Zuver Ahmed Khan had not dealt with the instant RTI application of the Appellant except forwarding a copy of the same to the CPIO, Department of Legal Affairs vide letter dated 26.12.2011, the penalty proceeding initiated against him is hereby dropped. The Commission is also not in a position to initiate any penalty proceeding against the then CPIO, Shri S.K. Srivastava, who had dealt with the RTI application, in view of the fact that Shri Srivastava has since retired from the services of the public authority.
Citation: Shri N.C. Tiwari v. Department of Justice in Case No. CIC/SS/C/2012/000251