Certified copies of action taken on appellant’s complaints registered by CVC were denied citing PIDPI Resolution - PIO: The CIC decision in similar cases ordering disclosure has been challenged before Delhi High Court - CIC: Appeal adjourned sine die
The Appellant filed an RTI application dated 07.06.2019 seeking certified copies of all noting, all investigation/inquiry reports, and all first and second stage advice in respect of his various complaints which have been registered vide CVC letter/complaint no. under PIDPI Resolution in Central Vigilance Commission New Delhi.
The CPIO replied to the appellant on 20.06.2019 stating that information sought cannot be provided as per PIDPI Resolution dated 21.04.2004.
Being dissatisfied, the appellant filed a First Appeal dated 18.07.2019. FAA’s order dated 09.08.2019 upheld the reply of CPIO.
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied, appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-
Appellant: Present through audio conference.
Respondent: Sanjay K Gwalia, Under Secretary & CPIO present through audio conference.
The Appellant narrated the factual background of the information sought for in the RTI Application to state that he is being denied information under the garb of PIDPI resolution even as he had categorically mentioned in para 10 of his RTI Application that he has no objection in the disclosure of his identity and as such all of the complaints referred to by him therein are related to corruption and disclosure of information in that regard is invariably in the larger public interest. He further alleged that he has been requesting the CVC to inform him about the action taken on his complaints for the longest time but no response is forthcoming therefore he was compelled to ask for this information under the RTI Act as he has every right to know of the fate of his complaints. He furthermore relied on his written submissions sent prior to the hearing, relevant extracts of which are reproduced hereunder:
“2. That I had sought the information/documents in the instant case in respect of my complaints registered with CVC during the years 2016-2018.
3. There were two types of complaints vide which under mentioned was alleged:
(i) Framing of incorrect & false documents & Irregularities/violation of Govt. procurement norms, Wilfull Misuse of Power & Office, losses/corruption of Govt. Money & Irregularities/violation of Govt. rules during conduction of All India Trade Test for Trade Apprentices etc. by the Ordnance Cable Factory, Chandigarh Authorities.
(ii) I have been Victimized, Harassed & Defamed by the alleged officers by misusing of their power & office.
4. That after denial of information by CPIO & FAA, CVC in my instant case, I had written a simple application dated 01.07.2019 to Secretary, CVC for provisioning of the same information. Despite submission of reminder letters dated 02.09.2019, 08.10.2019, 16.10.2020, 28.10.2020, 06.11.2020, 13.11.2021, 24.12.2020, 15.01.2021 and my personal visit to CPIO/CVC office on dated 30.09.2019, I did not receive any response from CPIO/CVC side.
5. That whereas I had already mentioned & requested in my simple application dated 01.07.2019 & reminder letters (copies of reminders annexed as Annexure A - 8colly) as under:
‘That applicant/appellant/Whistle blower is aggrieved by Hon’ble Central Administrative Tribunal, Administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh Order in OA No. 060/00794/2018, pronounced on 06.09.2018 and Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana high Court, Chandigarh Judgment in CWP no. 31180--2018 (O&M) date of decision 28.02.2019 which are self--explanatory. Now I have filed Revision Application before the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court, Chandigarh. In order to get justice, I need the information in instant matter.’
‘I have to file special Leave Petition in Hon’ble Supreme Court of India within prescribed time limit. And to get justice, I have needed the requisite information/documents from your side (CVC).’
7. That I have already been submitted no objection certificate (NOC) in disclosing my identity to any of the office/authority/person and the CVC had already sought my NOC for disclosure of my identity in the course of processing the complaint (As Attached Annexure A-7Colly). I have merely sought to know the fate of my complaints, so there is no question of fear of disclosure of my identity to myself.
10.That during course of the Revision Application no. 281 of 2019 in CWP31180-2018 of 2018 decision pronounced on dated 19.08.2020 by Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court & Special Leave Petition under diary no. 7408 of 2020 decision pronounced on dated 09.07.2020 by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, I have suffered injustice & substantial financial loss to the tune of Rs. 2 lakh (lawyer & documentation fees) solely for the reason of unavailability of evidences because of non provisioning of information by the CPIO & FAA & CVC.
11. That in the instant case, the CPIO have mindlessly relied on the provisions of PIDPI Resolution to deny the information sought for in the RTI Application and have further invoked Section 8(1)(g) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes; of the RTI Act. The reasoning accorded for invoking the said exemption clauses is also completely misplaced as the question of revealing the identity of mine/the Complainant does not arise as the Appellant is myself the Complainant & I have already given “No Objection Certificate” regarding disclose of my identity & moreover, my identity have already been revealed vide Hon’ble Central Administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh in OA No. 060/00794/2018, pronounced on 06.09.2018 which are available in public domain.
12. That in similar cases as of mine, the Hon’ble CIC have granted relief to the appellants vide orders no. CIC/CVCOM/A/2018/173997 Date of Decision 11.01.2021 & CIC/CVCOM/A/2018/174234 Date of Decision 11.01.2021 and further the Hon’ble Commission wrote in his orders as under:
‘Further, the Commission notes that the Respondent office has been routinely denying information under RTI Act related to Complaints under PIDPI or otherwise by following a rather cyclostyled CPIO’s reply and FAA’s order with absolutely no scrutiny of the actual information sought for in the RTI Applications. The said conduct of the CPIO & FAA amounts to amounts to causing unwarranted obstruction to the implementation of the RTI regime within CVC as it is commonplace that a major RTI regime within CVC as it is commonplace that a major RTI regime within CVC as it is commonplace that a major chunk of the RTI Applications received by the CVC seeks information related to Complaints filed with it and therefore such template responses will stifle the purport responses will stifle the purport of the RTI Act.’
13. That in another similar case, the Hon’ble CIC have been granted relief to me vide order no. CIC/CVCOM/A/2019/113437 Date of Decision 04.02.2021…”
In furtherance of the aforesaid, the Appellant relied on the earlier decision (supra) of 04.02.2021 in his matter and also brought the attention of the bench to a Public Notice of CVC placed in the public domain dated 24.04.2019 wherein it has been stated that once NOC for disclosing identity of the Complainant is obtained on a PIDPI complaint, it is treated as a Non-PIDPI complaint. That, by virtue of the NOCs provided by him for all his PIDPI complaints to CVC, they cease to be PIDPI complaints anymore and therefore the denial of the information is not justified. The relevant excerpt of the said public notice is reproduced hereunder:
“3. While processing the complaints received under the “Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informers Resolution”, it has been observed that there are certain categories of complaints where it is not possible to maintain confidentiality about the identity of the complainants and “No Objection Certificate” is obtained from them before processing their complaints. On receipt of the No Objection Certificate, the complaints are processed and placed before the Screening Committee for consideration. Such complaints are considered as Non Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informers (Non PIDPI) Complaints, but before processing such complaints, the identity of the complainant is masked, thus taking adequate safeguard in an attempt to maintain confidentiality about the complainant’s identity. Some categories of complaints, which one similarly dealt with are as under:-
(i) The complaint has been received in an open condition.
(ii) The complaint has been addressed/endorsed to several authorities.
(iii) The issues raised in the complaint had earlier been taken up with other authorities.
(iv) The information has been sought / obtained under the provisions of RTI Act, by the complainant himself. ….”
The CPIO submitted that it is the constant endeavour of CVC to protect the interests of the whistle-blowers whether it is a PIDPI or non PIDPI complaint. He further submitted that CVC has challenged the decision of this bench wherein disclosure has been ordered under the RTI Act in similar PIDPI cases including the one of 04.02.2021 referred to by the Appellant in his own case before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court vide a Writ Petition filed on 13.04.2021 and are awaiting admission by the Court.
The Commission observes in pursuance of the CPIO’s submissions during the hearing, at present Writ Petitions No.5596/2021; 5600/2021 & 5105/2021 are pending before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi.
For the said reason, the instant appeal is adjourned sine die.
Citation: Krishan Kumar v. Central Vigilance Commission in File No: CIC/CVCOM/A/2019/143947, Date of Interim Decision: 13/08/2021