CIC: The file dealing with appellant’s representations for review of the DPC meeting was available with the PIO but he denied information informing that the file was under submission; Show Cause Notice issued to the Secretary, Election Commission of India
O R D E R
1. The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Election Commission of India, New Delhi seeking information on two points, including, inter-alia, (i) the attested copies of promotion orders as Section Officer of all employees junior to the appellant as per the Election Commission of India’s Seniority List dated 19.01.2007, and (ii) the attested copies of noting and order/letters of file dealing with his representations for review of the DPC meetings held from the year 2017 till date.
2. The appellant filed a second appeal before the Commission on the grounds that he is not statisfied with the CPIO’s reply as the seniority list and other information sought for is available in the office. The appellant requested the Commission to direct the CPIO to provide the information sought for and to take action against the CPIO.
3. The appellant Shri Prahalad Prasad and the respondent Shri Abhishek Mohan, Under Secretary, Election Commission of India, New Delhi, were present in person.
4. The appellant submitted that the CPIO has not provided the copies of the promotion orders of all the employees, who though junior to him as per the Election Commission of India’s Seniority List dated 19.01.2007, were promoted as Section Officer as sought vide point no. 1 of the RTI application. Moreover, he had enclosed the Seniority List with his RTI application, yet misleading response was given to him. The appellant further stated that the information sought for by him on point no. 2 of his RTI application has been incorrectly denied to him by the CPIO on the plea that the file concerned was under submission to the Establishment Section. However, as evident from the copy of the file movement register regarding submission of the file concerned, provided to him by the CPIO vide letter dated 20.03.2018, the file concerned was in the custody of CPIO as on 21.02.2018. Hence, incorrect information has been furnished to him on point no. 2 of his RTI application.
5. The respondent submitted that the promotion to the cadre of Section Officer is made from Assistant Section Officer (ASO). The appellant, instead of submitting the Seniority List of ASOs, had provided the seniority list of LDCs. Hence, the appellant was requested to provide the names of employees who though Junior to him were promoted as Section Officers. On receipt of the names of the officers, vide the appellant’s letter dated 07.01.2019, the requisite information on point no. 1 of the RTI application was furnished to the appellant on 10.01.2019. With respect to point no. 2 of the RTI application, the respondent reiterated that the file was under submission and not available in the Establishment Section. Nonetheless, complete information has been furnished to the appellant vide letters dated 10.01.2019 and 18.01.2019.
6. The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that though an appropriate reply has been given to the appellant in respect of point no. 1 of his RTI application, no information was furnished to the appellant on point no. 2 of the RTI application. The Commission further notes that as per the copy of the file movement register provided to the appellant by the respondent vide letter dated 20.03.2018, the file dealing with the appellant’s representations for review of the DPC meeting was available with the CPIO as on 21.02.2018. However, the CPIO denied the information on the ground that the file was under submission and not available in the Establishment Section. Moreover, the respondent failed to give any reasonable justification for not providing correct information to the appellant on point no. 2 of the RTI application. The Commission, therefore, directs the Registry of this Bench to issue a Show Cause Notice to Shri B.C. Patra, CPIO and Secretary, Election Commission of India, New Delhi, for explaining as to why action 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 should not be initiated against him.
7. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.
8. Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Prahalad Prasad v. CPIO, Election Commission of India in Second Appeal No. CIC/ECOMM/A/2018/613934, Date 08.03.2019