Information regarding the Land Status of specific Plots, the date of registration of AWHO with DDA for land allotment and related information was sought - CIC directed the Pr. Commissioner (LD) to enquire into the matter and fix responsibility
O R D E R
RTI -I File No. CIC/DDATY/A/2018/158804-BJ
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 03 points regarding the Land Status of Plot No 15, Sect 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. , Dwarka, New Delhi-77 and plot No 16, Sect-23, Dwarka, ND-77, the date of registration of AWHO with DDA for land allotment and its registration number; the status of AWHO at the time of applying to DDA for land (whether Group Housing Society: Group House building Society; Co-operative Housing Society or any other type of society) and other issues related thereto.
Dissatisfied due to non-receipt of any response from the CPIO, the Appellant approached the FAA. The reply of CPIO/order of the FAA, if any, is not on the record of the Commission. The Appeal was forwarded to the concerned FAA vide reply dated 07.08.2018.
RTI – II File No. CIC/DDATY/A/2018/160648-BJ
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 02 points in respect of Ranjit Vihar-II a housing colony constructed by Army Welfare Housing Organization, waiver (from the requirement of registering RWA of Ranjit Vihar-II with Registrar of Co-operative Societies) granted by the DDA to the AWHO; the application by the AWHO seeking aforesaid waiver; Minutes of the meeting held on 17 May 2018, between the Project Director (AWHO) and the Dir (RL) DDA, and other issues related thereto.
Dissatisfied due to non-receipt of any response from the CPIO, the Appellant approached the FAA. The reply of CPIO/order of the FAA, if any, is not on the record of the Commission. The Appeal was forwarded to the concerned FAA vide reply dated 14.09.2018.
RTI – III File No. CIC/DDATY/C/2019/110331-BJ
The Complainant vide his RTI application sought on 04 points regarding the copy of DDA letter No. dated 10.08.2017, whether any action of providing information, as per direction of the FAA as mentioned in the aforesaid letter was taken by the PIO, and issues related thereto.
Dissatisfied due to non-receipt of any response from the CPIO, the Complainant approached the FAA. The reply of CPIO/order of the FAA, if any, is not on the record of the Commission.
Facts emerging during the hearing:
The following were present:
Appellant / Complainant: Lt. Col. Anand Prakash Singh through WhatsApp;
Respondent: Mr. Kapil Kumar, AD and Mr. Sada Shiv, Dy. Director (IL) through WhatsApp;
The Appellant / Complainant reiterated the contents of the RTI applications and stated that no information was received by him, till date. He further submitted that the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, were not followed in letter and spirit by the Respondent Public Authority. Therefore, it was prayed to the Commission to provide him the information sought in the RTI applications and to take strict action for not adhering to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 against the erring Respondent. In its reply, the Respondent while tendering their unconditional apology for not furnishing the reply earlier agreed to communicate its written submission which was e-mailed as a tentative reply to the Commission on 21.05.2020. Therefore, it was conveyed that its written submission should be relied upon. It was however noted by the Commission of the gross negligence and neglect in handling the RTI matters in the Public Authority which has been perpetually commented adversely by the Commission from time to time.
The Commission was in receipt of an email from the Respondent dated 21st May, 2020 (File No. CIC/DDATY/A/2018/158804-BJ) wherein a Para-wise reply to the RTI application was reiterated which were as under:-
(a) Date of applying to DDA through LG office is 31/07/95 and as per record the Registration No. is 11008 of 1980 under the Society Registration Act, XXI, of 1860;
(b) The status of the society at the time of applying was under special category Housing Society doing the welfare of Defence personnel and fulfilling their requirement of residential accommodation did not register under the office of Registrar of Co-operative Society, GNCTD.
(d & e) The land which has been allotted at site No. 15 sector 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. area 1.67 Hect on the cost of Rs. 9,88,87,843/- demand letter dated 09.06.2005 and Site NO. 16 sector area 2.63 Hect on the cost of Rs. 15,19,35,100/- institutional plots was allotted vide demand cum allotment letter dated 09/06/05 @ of Rs.5777 per Sqm. The ground rent is applicable 2.5% premium of the land.
It was also clarified the rate applicable for group housing scheme has been charged from AHWO. Furthermore, a detailed chronological sequence in the event was reiterated.
The Commission was in receipt of an email from the Respondent dated 21st May, 2020 (File No. CIC/DDATY/A/2018/160648-BJ) wherein a Para-wise reply to the RTI application was reiterated which were as under:-
(a)&(b) There is no matter of waiver, it was decided at the time of processing the matter of AWHO. The land is to be alloted under the provisions of relaxation of Nazul Rules (The Delhi Development Authority Disposal of Developed Nazul Land Rules, 1981) which was accorded with the Ministry vide letter dated K-2014/4/ 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. 02/DD-IIA.
(c) No such Minutes of the Meeting held on 17 May, 18 found in the file.
(d)No such Minutes of the Meeting held on 30 May, 18 found in the file.
(e) There is no such observation found recorded in the file. (f) NA (4) Director (RL) is the Nodal Officer being the concerned director.
The Commission was in receipt of an email from the Respondent dated 21st May, 2020 (File No. CIC/DDATY/C/2019/110331-BJ) wherein a Para-wise reply to the RTI application was reiterated which were as under:-
2. This is one of the disputed case, where allotment has been given under institutional category. Final decision is yet to be taken upon the conversion of norms of allotment. The reply could not be attempted, as the file was under submission to higher authorities. Meanwhile, the custodian of the file got transferred from time to time. They were not well aware of the fact of the case. In the absence of the file, reply could not be given. Any wrong information can cause panic to the applicant. However, delay in the matter is deeply regretted.
4. Matter pertained to Personnel Department
The Commission felt that timely response is the essence of the RTI mechanism enacted to ensure transparency and accountability in the working of Public Authorities. In this context, the Commission referred to the decision of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Mujibur Rehman vs Central Information Commission (W.P. (C) 3845/2007)(Dated 28 April, 2009) wherein it had been held as under:
“14.......The court cannot be unmindful of the circumstances under which the Act was framed, and brought into force. It seeks to foster an "openness culture" among state agencies, and a wider section of "public authorities" whose actions have a significant or lasting impact on the people and their lives. Information seekers are to be furnished what they ask for, unless the Act prohibits disclosure; they are not to be driven away through sheer inaction or filibustering tactics of the public authorities or their officers. It is to ensure these ends that time limits have been prescribed, in absolute terms, as well as penalty provisions. These are meant to ensure a culture of information disclosure so necessary for a robust and functioning democracy.”
The Commission observed that it is the duty of the CPIO to provide clear, cogent and pointed reply to the information seeker. In this context, a reference can be made to the judgment of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in J P Aggarwal v. Union of India (WP (C) no. 7232/2009 wherein it was held that:
“ 7 “it is the PIO to whom the application is submitted and it is who is responsible for ensuring that the information as sought is provided to the applicant within the statutory requirements of the Act. Section 5(4) is simply to strengthen the authority of the PIO within the department; if the PIO finds a default by those from whom he has sought information. The PIO is expected to recommend a remedial action to be taken”. The RTI Act makes the PIO the pivot for enforcing the implementation of the Act.
“8………….The PIO is expected to apply his / her mind, duly analyse the material before him / her and then either disclose the information sought or give grounds for non-disclosure.”
Furthermore, in OM No. 20/10/23/2007-IR dated 09.07.2009, while elaborating on the duties and responsibilities of the FAA, it was stated that:
“3. Deciding appeals under the RTI Act is a quasi judicial function. It is, therefore, necessary that the appellate authority should see that the justice is not only done but it should also appear to have been done. In order to do so, the order passed by the appellate authority should be a speaking order giving justification for the decision arrived at.
Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of R.K. Jain vs Union of India, LPA No. 369/2018, dated 29.08.2018, held as under:
“9………………………….. That apart, the CPIO being custodian of the information or the documents sought for, is primarily responsible under the scheme of the RTI Act to supply the information and in case of default or dereliction on his part, the penal action is to be invoked against him only.
Furthermore, the Commission also referred to the OM No. 1/32/2007-IR dated 14.11.2007 wherein while prescribing for creation of a nodal authority for dealing with RTI applications, it was stated as under:
“It is, therefore, requested that all public authorities with more than one PIO should create a central point within the organization where all the RTI applications and the appeals addressed to the First Appellate Authorities may be received. An officer should be made responsible to ensure that all the RTI applications/ appeals received at the central point are sent to the concerned Public Information Officers/ Appellate Authorities, on the same day. For instance, the RTI applications/ appeals may be received in the Receipt and Issue Section/ Central Registry Section of the Ministry/ Department/ Organization/ Agency and distributed to the concerned PIOs/ Appellate Authorities. The R&I/CR Section may maintain a separate register for the purpose. The Officer-in-charge/ Branch Officer of the Section may ensure that the applications/ appeals received are distributed the same day.”
The Commission observed that there is complete negligence and laxity in the public authority in dealing with the RTI applications. It is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored and set aside without application of mind which reflects disrespect towards the RTI Act, 2005 itself. The Commission expressed its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the respondent in responding to the RTI application. It was felt that the conduct of Respondent was against the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 which was enacted to ensure greater transparency and effective access to the information.
Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties, and in the light of the utter neglect and responsiveness in dealing with the RTI applications, the Commission directs the Pr. Commissioner (LD), DDA, to enquire into the matter and fix responsibility and accountability on the concerned official within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of this order depending upon the condition for containment of the Corona Virus Pandemic in the Country.
The Commission further directed the Respondent to furnish complete information to the Appellant as sought in the RTI applications as per the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of this order depending upon the condition for containment of the Corona Virus Pandemic in the Country or through email (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), as agreed.
The Commission also instructs the Respondent Public Authority to convene periodic conferences/ seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.
The Appeals / Complaint stand disposed accordingly.
(The Order will be posted on the website of the Commission).
(Chief Information Commissioner)
Citation: Lt. Col Anand Prakash Singh v. Delhi Development Authority in Second Appeal No./ Complaint No.:- CIC/DDATY/A/2018/158804-BJ+ CIC/DDATY/A/2018/160648-BJ+ CIC/DDATY/C/2019/110331-BJ, Date of Decision : 21.05.2020