Delay in providing information - CIC issued an advisory u/s 25(5) of the RTI Act to the Army to organise basic training programmes to the officers and staff dealing with RTI matters sensitizing them about the provisions of the Act without any delay
The appellant has sought the following information with regard to allotment of field area family accommodation in Colaba, Mumbai:
1. Provide details of action taken on the following letters by HQ UM & G Sub Area (Station- cell), Colaba. Mumbai:
(a) Appellant’s letter No. Welfare/01 dated 31st December 2017
(b) Welfare Complex, IHQ of MoD (Army), New Delhi letter No Welfare/D/I00l/Accn dated 10th January 2018.
(c) Welfare Complex, HQ Southern Command letter No. 8301O72/AWWA/SC-l/Pet/O4/18 dated 21st Feb, 2018.
2. How many field area family accommodations in Colaba, Mumbai have been allotted to officers on compassionate grounds from January 2016 to till date by HQ UM & G-Sub Area (Station Cell), Colaba, Mumbai? If allotted, then on what basis (including priority l & II).
3. Provide the information with regard to the merit seniority being accorded with reference to application of the appellant, as stated in para 1(a) above.
Grounds for Second Appeal
The CPIO did not provide the desired information. Submissions made by Appellant and Respondent during Hearing: The representative of the appellant submitted that he is not satisfied with the reply of the CPIO as the information provided was not relevant to what was asked and there was also delay in providing her a reply. He further submitted that even though the information sought is not relevant any more as the appellant has got accommodation in Lucknow, however, such a delay as was done in the present case defeats the purpose of the RTI Act and his purpose in following up with the case is to make sure this does not happen in future to anyone. The CPIO submitted that an appropriate reply was given to the appellant on 14.03.2019.
From a perusal of the relevant case records, it is noted that even though a suitable point-wise reply was given to the appellant, however, the same was highly delayed for almost a year
On a query to CPIO as to why there was a delay of almost one year as the RTI application was transferred to them on 19.04.2018, he was unable to give any valid justification. He however submitted that they have streamlined the whole process for getting accommodation and also that they are attending to every RTI application in a time bound manner.
The Commission expresses displeasure at the callous and negligent conduct of the respondent authority as a whole while handling the present RTI application. It is pertinent to mention here that if the information is not provided within a reasonable time, the very purpose of filing the RTI application gets defeated. The CPIO should note that such a delay, as was found in the present case, defeats the very purpose of the RTI Act as was rightly pointed out by the representative of the appellant and this problem requires urgent deliberation and rectification as timely replies are the very essence of the RTI Act.
In view of the above, an advisory is issued u/s 25(5) of the RTI Act to the head of the organisation to organise basic training programmes on RTI Act/matters to the officers (respondent CPIO/PIO and FAA)/ and staff dealing with RTI matters working under them sensitizing them about the provisions of the RTI Act without any delay. The Commission desires that this advice should be viewed seriously and an action taken report be submitted to the Commission within two months of the receipt of this order.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Vanaja N. Sarna
Citation: Laxmi Prasant Pathak v. HQ MG & G Area, Pin - 908806, C/O 56 APO and RTI Cell, Addl DG MT (AE), Sena Bhawan, IHQ of MoD (Army), Date of Decision: 12/05/2021