CIC: Denial of information on the plea that inquiry is pending without substantiating the same u/S 8 or 9 of RTI Act and ignoring the fact that information sought for concerns the Appellant only for which he has every right to know, was inappropriate
The Appellant filed an RTI application dated 16.10.2020 seeking the following information:
(i) Status report of my complaint filed dated 27.11.2018 on illegality & irregularity in selection process for the post of Pilot (Regular) in the year 2011.
(ii) Inquiry/Investigation report of CVO submitted to Chairman, PPT on dtd. 10.09.2020 in this regard for appropriate administration action for reference.
Having not received any response from the CPIO, the appellant filed a First Appeal dated 16.11.2020.. FAA’s order dated 18.01.2021 advised the CPIO as follows:-
“………the CPIO is advised to furnish the available information to the Appellant in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 within a period of ten(10) days from the date of hereof, under intimation to this office.”
In compliance with the FAA’s order,the CPIO informed the appellant on 02.02.2021 that:-
“………..the action on the inquiry/investigation report of CVO is under process and legal opinion has been sought from the legal consultant. Hence, at this juncture no information can be supplied.”
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied, appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal on the following grounds –
“….1) That, the CPIO/Administrative Dept. failed to appreciate that the information seeker is an employee (Pilot) and was a candidate in the aforesaid selection process. Certainly an applicant to public post who has been overlooked is entitled to know the reason which prevailed with the appointing authority/recommending authority for preferring another over him.
2) That, the CPIO failed to appreciate that without such information/document the applicant who has remained unsuccessful /overlooked would not even be in a position to know as to why he was not appointed and another preferred over him and also would not be able to seek judicial review against the irregularity and illegality if any in the appointment/selection process.
3) That, the CPIO failed to appreciate that the denial of information can only be on the basis of exemption under section 8(1) of the RTI Act. The appellant is unable to fathom the secrecy and confidentiality of the above information sought.
4) That, the CPIO failed to appreciate that such information should be provided to the appellant as the information seeker himself is the complainant who has filed the said complaint before Chairman and CVO, Paradip Port Trust. Further CVO has already submitted the said report to the Chairman for appropriate administrative action. So the disclosure of information relating to the Vigilance report is justified for the sake of larger public interest.
5) That, the CPIO failed to appreciate that the present appellant is the victim of undue influence, injustice and violation of fundamental rights under article 14 & 16 of constitution of India in the aforesaid selection process….”
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-
Appellant: Present through audio-conference.
Respondent: K. Thirumoolar, Dy. Secretary & CPIO present through audioconference.
The CPIO submitted that upon completion of the inquiry; relevant information has already been provided to the Appellant on 26.10.2021 but that was is in response to his another RTI Application. To a query from the Commission, the Appellant affirmed the receipt of information from the CPIO now.
The Commission upon a perusal of facts on records observes that initial denial of information by the CPIO on the plea that inquiry is pending without substantiating the same under any relevant clause of Section 8/9 of RTI Act; and also ignoring the fact that information sought for concerns the Appellant only for which he has every right to know, was completely inappropriate. In this regard, the CPIO is advised to exercise due diligence in future while responding to the RTI Applications.
Now, considering the admitted fact that Appellant is in receipt of relevant information now, the Commission is not inclined to order any further relief in the matter and hereby closes the case.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Prasant Kumar Nayak v. Paradip Port Trust in File No : CIC/PPTRS/A/2021/105963, Date of Decision : 10/03/2022