There was a delay in complying with CIC’s order - CIC: Lucknow Zonal Office of the UCO bank does not appear to take RTI work with due seriousness; Bank to issue instructions to all its officers to adhere to the timeframe stipulated under RTI Act
This matter pertains to an RTI application dated 4.7.2012 filed by the Appellant, seeking information on two points regarding withdrawals from the pension account of her late father. The CPIO responded on 30.7.2012 and denied the information under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act. Not satisfied with the reply of the CPIO, the Appellant filed an appeal to the First Appellate Authority on 10.9.2012 and approached the CIC in second appeal on 11.6.2013.
Hearing on 16.7.2014
2. No one was present on behalf of the Respondents. The Appellant stated that she had filed another RTI application dated 17.7.2012 on the same subject and her second appeal, concerning the above application, came up before the Commission in November 2013. The Respondents were not present on that occasion also. Having heard her submissions, the Commission, vide its order No. CIC/VS/A/2013/000077/05554 dated 27.11.2013, had directed the CPIO to provide the information within thirty days of the order. The Appellant further submitted that in spite of the above order, the Respondents have not provided the information to her. 3. Having considered the submissions made by the Appellant, we have decided to hear this matter again on 25 th August, 2014 at 10.00 a.m . through videoconferencing. We direct the Respondents to ensure that they are represented at an appropriate level during the hearing on 25.8.2014. The venue for videoconferencing for the Appellant and the Respondents will be as follows: For the Appellant and the Respondent
NIC Video Conferencing Room No. – 110, 1st Floor, Yojana Bhawan No. 9,
Sarojini Naidu Marg, Lucknow – 226001
(Contact OfficerMr. Diwan Singh & contact Nos. 05222298822/ 2298823/2238059 Ext15)
Hearing on 25.8.2014
4. Neither the Appellant nor the Respondents were present during today’s hearing. The Commission takes an adverse view of nonattendance of Respondents on both dates of hearing and noncompliance of Commission’s order dated 27.11.2013 as quoted in para 2 above. In view of the foregoing, we direct the CPIO responsible for noncompliance of the CIC order to show cause why he should not be penalised in terms of the provisions of sub Section 1 of Section 20 of the RTI Act. He is further directed to appear before us on 19 th September, 2014 at 10.00 a.m . through videoconferencing and give his explanation. His written submissions, if any, should reach the Commission’s office by 12.9.2014. The venue for appearance of the CPIO for the hearing on 19.9.2014 will be as follows: NIC Video Conferencing Room No. – 110, 1st Floor, Yojana Bhawan No. 9, Sarojini Naidu Marg, Lucknow – 226001 (Contact OfficerMr. Diwan Singh & contact Nos. 05222298822/ 2298823/2238059 Ext15)
5. The Registry is directed to send a copy of this order to Shri Rakesh, Zonal Manager, UCO Bank, Zonal Office, Naval Kishore Road, Lucknow226001, who will serve it on the CPIO / officials responsible for non compliance of the CIC order dated 27.11.2013.
Hearing on 19.9.2014
6. The matter came up again today. The Respondents have forwarded to us their letter dated 30.6.2014 to the Commission, with a copy to the Appellant, with which they had provided some of the information which was ordered to be disclosed as per Commission’s decision No. CIC/VS/A/2013/000077/05554 dated 27.11.2013. The Appellant submitted that she has still not received a copy of the cheque by which withdrawal was made. The Respondents provided her with a copy of the cheque during the hearing.
7. Regarding the reason for the delay in complying with the Commission’s decision dated 27.11.2013, mentioned above, Shri Md. Imam Hashmi, who represented the Respondents, stated that the information provided with the above mentioned letter dated 30.6.2014 had been forwarded by the branch to the First Appellate Authority on 3.10.2012. However, he was not aware whether the FAA sent it to the Appellant or not. The Appellant stated that the information was not received by her at that stage. In the light of the foregoing, we note that the Commission’s decision dated 27.11.2013 was partially complied with on 30.6.2014 and the remainder information (copy of the cheque) was provided to the Appellant only during the proceedings today. Shri Hashmi did not provide us a satisfactory explanation regarding the reason(s) for the above delay in complying with the Commission’s order. In response to our query, he was unable to inform us about the name of the officer, who was holding the charge of CPIO when the Commission’s order dated 27.11.2013 was issued. We would like the concerned CPIO to show cause why he should not be penalised in terms of provisions of the sub Section 1 of Section 20 of the RTI Act. Accordingly, we direct Shri Md. Imam Hashmi, Deputy Zonal Head to appear before us, along with the officer(s) who held the charge of CPIO between 27.11.2013 and 30.6.2014, on 28 th November, 2014 at 10.00 a.m. at the office of the Commission, Room No. 305, 2nd Floor, BWing, August Kranti Bhawan, Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi – 11006. The written submissions of the Respondents, if any, should reach us by 21.11.2014.
Hearing on 28.11.2014
8. As directed in our order dated 19.9.2014, Shri R.K. Bishnoi, Former CPIO in the Lucknow Zonal Office and Shri M. I. Hashmi, Deputy Zonal Head, Lucknow appeared before us today. Shri R. K. Bishnoi was the CPIO when the Commission’s order dated 27.11.2013 was issued.
9. With regard to the Appellant’s RTI application dated 4.7.2012, Shri Bishnoi submitted that the CPIO in his letter dated 30.7.2012 denied the information because the Appellant did not mention in that application that she was seeking information in respect of the account of her father. This fact became known from her appeal dated 10.9.2012 to the FAA. The FAA, upon receiving this appeal, asked the CPIO to furnish the information. The CPIO sent it to the FAA on 3.10.2012 (copy of CPIO’s letter dated 3.10.2012 to the FAA has been shown to us) and the FAA, in turn, forwarded it to the Appellant. Copy of the FAA’s letter, forwarding the information to the Appellant, was not shown to us. We note that during the hearing on 19.9.2014, the Appellant had informed us that she did not receive the information at that stage.
10. Shri Bishnoi also submitted that the Commission’s order dated 27.11.2013 was not received by him. He came to know of it only when the Commission wrote to the Respondents on 10.6.2014 to state that the Appellant had complained regarding noncompliance by them with the Commission’s order mentioned above. Upon receipt of the Commission’s communication, the information, including a copy of the cheque was forwarded to the Appellant on 30.6.2014 (copy of this letter has been shown to us).
11. In response to our query, Shri Bishnoi conceded that he had received notices for the hearings held on 16.7.2014 and 25.8.2014, but failed to appear before the Commission for those hearings.
12. We have considered the submissions made by Shri Bishnoi. Taking into account the totality of the facts of this case, particularly the fact that information has been provided to the Appellant, we would not impose any penalty on him. However, we are constrained to observe that the Lucknow Zonal Office of the Respondent bank does not appear to take RTI work with due seriousness. In view of the foregoing and by virtue of the power vested in us under Section 19 (8) (a) of the RTI Act, we require the public authority to issue instructions to all its officers dealing with RTI matters to dispose of RTI applications and appeals strictly in keeping with the provisions of the RTI Act and within the stipulated timeframe.
13. With the above direction and observations, the appeal is disposed of.
14. The Registry is directed to forward a copy of this order by name, besides the usual recipients, to the CMD of UCO Bank.
15. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Smt. Neelima v. UCO Bank in File No. CIC/VS/A/2013/001011/SH