FAA had directed the PIO to provide the information - PIO claimed that though the copy of the order was endorsed to him, the subordinate staff did not inform him about the order - CIC: the explanation is not satisfactory, penalty of Rs. 25,000/- imposed
FAA had directed the PIO to provide the information - PIO claimed that though the copy of the order was endorsed to him, the intelligence officer (subordinate staff) did not inform him about the order - CIC: the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the PIO, the explanation is not satisfactory, penalty of Rs. 25,000/- imposed
1. The matter was earlier heard on 17.07.2012 and the Commission passed and Order vide No. CIC/SS/A/2012/000714 dated 03.08.2012 and observed as under: “The Commission observes that the CPIO has complied with the directions of the FAA vide his letter dated 11.07.2012, only after getting hearing notice from the Commission, which has prima facie caused a delay of more than 100 days. A separate show cause notice u/s 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 would be issued to Shri Vikas Joshi, CPIO, DGCEI, Ahmedabad asking him to show cause why a penalty of Rs. 25,000/- should not be imposed upon him.”
2. Accordingly, a show cause notice dated 27.09.2013 was issued to Shri Vikas Joshi, CPIO, DGCEI, Ahmedabad and the matter was scheduled for hearing on 07.11.2013.
3. The Noticee Shri Vikas Joshi, Assistant Director & CPIO was present for the hearing. Earlier, He submitted his written submissions, wherein he stated as under:
i) The appellant Shri Patel had asked for information regarding rewards sanctioned and disbursed to the informer for the last 12 years. Vide letter dated 22.10.2011, he declined the disclosure of information under 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.
ii) However, the First Appellate Authority vide his order dated 26.11.2011, directed him (the CPIO) to disclose certain information for last 5 years in the manner they are maintained / available in the official record.
iii) Against the Order of FAA, the appellant filed 2nd appeal before the Commission and the same was listed for hearing on 17.07.2012 and the Commission passed an order dated 03.08.2012.
iv) With regard to noncompliance of the FAA’s order, the compliance work of RTI matters was allotted to Shri Amar Shah, Intelligence Officer, DGCEI, Ahmedabad. He received a copy of the order of FAA and he neither informed / communicated the said order nor delivered a copy of the same to him. Even, he did not bring to his notice the fact of filing 2nd appeal by the appellant against the FAA’s order dated 20.12.2011.
v) He came to know about this matter only when he received hearing notice on 02.07.2012 and he enquired the matter and a Memo dated 03.07.2012 was issued to Shri Amar Shah, Intelligence Officer.
vi) Since the incharge of Intelligence Officer failed to comply with the order of FAA, the show cause notice issued to him (CPIO) be dropped.
4. Heard the oral submissions of the respondents and perused the written submissions. The Commission observes that the CPIO failed to comply with the FAA’s order dated 19.12.2011 a copy of which was endorsed to him. The information was given by the CPIO on 11.07.2012 i.e., after the receipt of hearing Notice from the Commission. The second proviso under section 20 states that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the CPIO. However, the explanations given by the CPIO, were not found satisfactory.
5. The Commission therefore, imposes a penalty of Rs. 25,000/- (Rupees Twenty five thousands) only upon Shri Vikas Joshi, Assistant Director & CPIO, Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence, Ahmedabad for not complying with the FAA’s order dated 19.12.2011 for more than 6 months and thus, obstructing the disclosure of information. The amount shall be recovered in 5 (Five) equal monthly installments of Rs. 5,000/- (Rupees Five thousand only) each from his pay and allowances commencing from the month of December, 2013 to April, 2014.
6. The head of Public Authority shall direct the salary paying authority to effect the payments and forward the bank draft of the above said amount, payable to “PAO, CAT, New Delhi”, payable at New Delhi, to this Commission each month.
Citation: Shri Hemantbhai N. Patel v. Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence in F. No.CIC/SS/A/2012/00071 4