Complaint regarding grabbing of settlement dues of appellant after forging her signatures on documents - CIC: Since the inquiry pending with UPSC, final outcome cannot be provided; Provide the latest position of the averred complaints to the Appellant
Information sought and background of the case:
The Appellant filed RTI application dated 12.05.2022 seeking information on following points:-
Q-1: Kindly provide certified copy of all representations/complaints /complete notings and complete Correspondence/letter(s)/Replies against suspended sh. Narender Kumar Dy. GEQD and Dr. B. A. Vaid GEQD Shimla "Over period 20.12.2013 to 31.03.2022"
Q-2: Kindly provide certified copy of all the complete documents/complete notings and complete Correspondence/letter/Reply 25020/16/2011/PM-II representations/ complaints dated 16.3.2019 & in connection file No. reminder dated 5.5.2021, 3.6.2021, 28.3.2021 & 20.7.2019 under S. No. 1 to 2 above under S. No. 1 to 2 above
Q-3: Kindly inform me what the final decision was taken by, Home Secretary Govt. of India, in connection OM file No. 25020/16/2011/PM-II (MHA) dated 18.3.2013 and representations/complaints dated 16.3.2019 & reminder dated 5.5.2021, 3.6.2021, 28.3.2021 & 20.7.2019 under S. No. 1 to 2 above under S. No. 1 to 2 above
The CPIO/Director (Women Safety Division), vide letter dated 09.06.2022 replied as under:-
“May please refer to your RTI application dated 12.05.2022 (registered online vide Reg. No. MHOME/R/P/22/00504 dated 13.05.2022 by RTI Cell, MHA). It is informed that a few representations were received against suspended Sh. Narender Kumar, Dy. GEQD and Dr. B. A. Vaid GEQD, Shimla. The disciplinary authority initiated departmental action against these officials and the proceedings in the matter are underway. Subsequent, information in this regard cannot be given in terms of section 8(1)(j) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person. of RTI Act, 2005. As regard point no-3, the copy of order of Hon'ble CMM/Rouse Avenue Courts, New Delhi dated 26.09.2020 is enclosed for information.”
Dissatisfied with the response received from the CPIO, the Appellant filed a First Appeal dated 30.06.2022. The FAA/Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs vide order dated 15.07.2022 upheld the reply of the CPIO.
Aggrieved and dissatisfied, the Appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.
Facts emerging in Course of Hearing:
The Appellant along with Shri Anoop Pandey, participated in the hearing through video conference. The Appellant stated that the Respondent has malafidely refused to provide the information requested in the instant RTI Application on false grounds that the matter being exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act. She added that the information requested in the RTI Application is very much required as she has filed a complaint to Delhi Police/CBI that some male colleagues of a foreign bank where she was employed as a head of investment branch had grabbed her settlement dues after forging her signatures on various documents. She further added that she has requested similar information from MHA earlier and the same was furnished by the MHA but after the year 2013-14, no further action was taken by MHA. She requested the bench to direct the Respondent to provide copy of all the complaints made by her from the year 2013 till date along with the relevant file notings.
The Respondent represented by Shri Lakshmi Kanta Halder, DS & CPIO, MHA (Women Safety Division) and Shri Kapil, ASO, participated in the hearing through video conference. Shri Lakshmi Kanta Halder, submitted that the report of Inquiry officer along with the relevant records has been placed before Disciplinary Authority i.e. Union Home Minister and the averred matter is at the last stage and accordingly the same has been referred UPSC for advice. He further submitted that as and when the matter is concluded by the UPSC, their office will provide the final outcome of the averred complaints to the Appellant.
A written submission has been received from Shri Lakshmi Kanta Halder, DS & CPIO, MHA (Women Safety Division), vide letter dated 31.07.2023 and the same has been taken on record.
Upon perusal of the facts on record as well as on the basis of the proceedings during the hearing, the Commission observes that that Appellant is using RTI Act in seeking her own documents and the same are not permitted for the purpose as held by the Hon'ble Madras High Court in the matter of PIO, High Court Madras Vs. B. Bharathi (W.P No.26781 of 2013) as under:
‘24. Insofar as query (iv) is concerned, we fail to understand as to how the second respondent is entitled to justify his claim for seeking the copies of his own complaints and appeals. It is needless to say that they are not the information available within the knowledge of the petitioner; on the other hand, admittedly, they are the documents of the second respondent himself, and therefore, if he does not have copies of the same, he has to blame himself and he cannot seek those details as a matter of right, thinking that the High Court will preserve his frivolous applications as treasures/valuable assets.
Further, those documents cannot be brought under the definition "information" as defined under Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act. Therefore, we reject the contention of the second respondent in this aspect.’
The Commission further observes that though the Appellant is the complainant, she has the right to know the final outcome of the said complaints. In this regard the Commission would like to rely upon a judgement of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of Kamal Bhasin v. Radha Krishna Mathur and Ors., W.P.(C) 7218/2016 dated 01.11.2017, wherein it was held as under:
“6. In the present case, the petitioner stands as a relator party as he is also one of the complainants. The petitioner is not seeking any personal information regarding respondent No. 3, but merely seeks to know the outcome of the complaint made by him and other such complaints. The PFC Officers Association had pointed out certain conduct which according to them was irregular and warranted disciplinary action; thus, they would be certainly entitled to know as to how their complaints have been treated and the results thereof.
11 In the circumstances, this Court directs the respondent to disclose to the petitioner as to what action had been taken pursuant to his complaint and other similar complaints made against the then CMD. The petitioner would not be entitled to any notings and deliberations of the Group of Officers or Disciplinary Authority but only information as to what action was taken in relation to the complaints in question.”
Since the inquiry process is still pending with UPSC, the Commission is not in a position to direct the Respondent to provide the final outcome to the Appellant at this stage. However, the Commission deems it fit to direct the present CPIO to provide the latest position of the averred complaints to the Appellant, with a copy marked to the Commission, within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order.
The written submission dated 31.07.2023 filed by the Respondent is comprehensive and self explanatory as such. However, it seems copy of the same has not been sent to the Appellant. Hence, it is hereby directed that a copy of the same the written submission must be supplied to the Appellant, within 15 days from the receipt of this order. No further adjudication is warranted in this case, under the RTI Act, in the light of the above discussion.
With the above observations, the instant Second Appeal is disposed of.
Y. K. Sinha
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Ms. Guninder Kaur Gill v. MHA, CIC/MHOME/A/2022/149257; Date of Decision: 25.08.2023