Friday, November 5, 2010

CIC: 6 officials told to pay 25k for RTI violation

6 officials told to pay 25k for RTI violation

Himanshi Dhawan, TNN, Oct 24, 2010, 01.44 am IST

NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has slapped the maximum penalty ever on any agency at one time by directing six MCD officials to cough up Rs 25,000 each for withholding information related to transfer of staff. These errant MCD officers will have to pay Rs 1.5 lakh for a 100-day delay in providing information under the RTI Act. 

Noting the delay in disclosure of information, information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said, "Since the delay in providing the information has been over 100 days, the Commission is passing an order penalising all six officers Rs 25,000 which is the maximum penalty in the Act." 

The applicant Ravi Bhushan Bali had in February 2010 asked for information related to direct recruitment, ad-hoc promotion and regular promotion of 13 officers. Bali has also asked details of how many officials had been transferred from DDA to MCD and under what terms and conditions. He also sought information on the status of his own promotion that has been pending before a higher authority. 

In his reply in April 2010, MCD PIO had argued that the department was still in the process of collecting the information but could not provide the relevant facts. In fact, it was only after a rap on the knuckles by the CIC in September that the municipal corporation provided Bali with service books of all the sanitary superintendents and allowed the applicant inspection of the relevant files. 

Arguing that the Commission was obliged to levy a penalty if it found that information had not been furnished without reasonable cause, Gandhi in his order said no reasonable cause for delay had been cited in this particular case. 

He has asked the MCD commissioner to recover Rs 25,000 each from the salary of sanitary superintendents Nand Lal (south zone), Rajendra Prasad (south zone), Raj Pal Singh (SP zone), Om Prakash (Najafgarh zone), Ravinder Rai (west zone) and Naresh Kumar (central zone). An amount of Rs 5,000 will be deducted from their monthly salary.

Courtesy_

Also read the FULL Order at: http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/1157884/

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

Club Building (Near Post Office)

Old JNU Campus, New Delhi - 110067

Tel: +91-11-26161796

Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2010/002127/9341Penalty

Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2010/002127

Relevant Facts emerging from the Appeal:

Appellant : Mr. Ravi Bhushan Bali SS- SZ, Ward No. 6, House No. 881, Mehrauli, New Delhi 110030.

Respondent (1): Mr. Nand Lal, Deemed PIO & SS, MCD South Zone, Green Park, New Delhi

(2) Mr. Rajendra Prasad, Deemed PIO & SS South Zone, (formerly in Narela Zone), MCD South Zone, Green Park, New Delhi

(3) Mr. Raj Pal Singh, Deemed PIO & SS SP Zone, MCD SP Zone, Idgah Road, Sadar Pahar Ganj Zone, New Delhi

(4) Mr. Om Prakash, Deemed PIO & SS, MCD Nazafgarh Zone, Overhead water tank, Najafgarh Zone, Nazafgarh Zone, New Delhi

(5) Mr. Ravinder Rai, Deemed PIO & SS, MCD West Zone, Rajouri Garden, Vishal Enclave, New Delhi

(6) Mr. Naresh Kumar, Deemed PIO & SS, MCD Central Zone, Jal Vihar, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi

(7) Mr. Surender Singh, Deemed PIO & SS West Zone, MCD, Vishal Enclave, Rajouri Garden, New Delhi

(8) Mr. Devender Kumar, Public Information Officer & Chief Engineer, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Office of Assistant Commissioner/DEMS/HQs, Gandhi Mela Ground, Town Hall, Delhi- 110006.

(9) Mr. Kishan Lal, Deemed PIO & SS City Zone, MCD City Zone, Delhi

(10) Mr. J. K. Gupta, Deemed PIO & SS Sahadara, MCD Sahadara North Zone, Sahadara, Delhi

(11) Mr. Vijender Rana, Deemed PIO & SS Rohini Zone, MCD Rohini Zone, Rohini Zone, Delhi

RTI application filed on : 11/02/2010 

PIO replied : 05/04/2010 

First appeal filed on : 20/04/2010 

First Appellate Authority order : 24/06/2010 

Second Appeal received on : 26/07/2010

Sl. Information Sought Reply of the Public Information Officer (PIO)

1. Provide the information under the RTI Act as The PF file and S/book of the officials of the officials per the following format mentioning Direct mentioned in point 1 are not available at the office. Letters Recruitment /Adhoc promotion /Regular dates 18/12/2010 and 04/03/2010 were sent to the Zonal promotion with the then office order no and officers, to provide the PF File & S/Book, with a copy to the date, shown in the table in the application for 13 appellant. PF File of Mr. Bal Kishan and Mr. Jagdish officers: Chander have been received in this office and the same can 1- Mr. Nand Lal be inspected on any working day within 15 days, and the 2- Mr. Surender Singh appellant may obtain a copy of the documents as the desired 3- Mr. Bal Kishan information in the prescribed proforma is not available. The 4- Mr. Raj Pal department is in the process for obtaining the PF File and 5- Mr. Krishan Kant S/book of the remaining officials. 6- Mr. Kishori Lal, 7- Mr. Lakhara, 8- Mr. Suraj Bhan, 9- Mr. K. C. Gulati, 10- Mr. Ravinder Ray, 11- Mr. Om Prakash, 12- Mr. Naresh Kumar, 13- Mr. Jagdeesh Chandra

2. How many officials were transferred from DDA It is a voluminous record, hence the appellant may come and to MCD with designation? inspect the relevant files and collect the desired documents.

3. At what designation DDA staff had been As Above. transferred to MCD and what designation considered by MCD?

4. Since when seniority had been given to said As Above. staff in each category?

5. Photocopies of office orders for all above As Above. mentioned officials for each designation'

6. Photocopy of terms and conditions on which As Above. DDA supervisor staff was transferred to MCD.

7. What is status of promotion case of under The representations have not been dealt with so far. signed for which a representation has already been submitted.

Grounds for the First Appeal:

Unsatisfactory information provided by the PIO Order of the First Appellate Authority (FAA):

The FAA directs the appellant to inspect the relevant file and obtain the copies of the desired documents free of cost by appearing personally at the PIO's office on any working day within 15 days from the date of the issuance of the order.

Grounds for the Second Appeal:

Unsatisfactory information provided by the PIO

Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing on 10 September 2010: The following were present

Appellant: Mr. Ravi Bhushan Bali,

Respondent: Mr. T. P. Sharma, Assistant Commissioner on behalf of Mr. Devender Kumar, PIO & CE; "The PIO has provided the office orders required by the appellant of 01 officer out of 13 officers from whom the appellant wanted the officer orders. The PIO states that he has sought the assistance of 12 Sanitation Superintendents and 01 EO Pension under Section 5(4) of the RTI Act. The PIO states that he received the service books of only Mr. Bal Krishan and Mr. Jagdish and these were inspected by the appellant and photocopies of records which he sought were given to him. However, the other sanitation superintends did not respond. The PIO is directed to obtain the service books from all the sanitation superintends and give inspection to the appellant on 30 September 2010 and provide photocopies of whatever records the appellant wants free of cost.

Mr. T. P. Sharma, AC is also directed to send copies of the showcause notice issued with this order to all the Sanitation Superintendents who have not provided any information from whom assistance was sought on 18/02/2010 by letter no. 6020/DA-1/AC/DEMS/HQS/2010. He had also sent reminder on 04/03/2010."

Commission's Decision dated 10 September 2010:

The Appeal was allowed.

"Mr. T. P. Sharma, AC is directed to obtain the service books from all the sanitation superintends and give inspection to the appellant on 30 September 2010 and provide photocopies of whatever records the appellant wants free of cost upto 300 pages. The issue before the Commission is of not supplying the complete, required information by the deemed PIOs and sanitation superintends within 30 days as required by the law. From the facts before the Commission it is apparent that the deemed PIOs are guilty of not furnishing information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of Section 7 by not replying within 30 days, as per the requirement of the RTI Act. It appears that the deemed PIOs actions attract the penal provisions of Section 20 (1). A showcause notice is being issued to them, and they are directed give their reasons to the Commission to show cause why penalty should not be levied on them.

All the Sanitation Superintendents will present themselves before the Commission at the above address on 22 October 2010 at 04.00PM alongwith their written submissions showing cause why penalty should not be imposed on them as mandated under Section 20 (1). They will also submit proof of having given the information to the appellant.

If there are other persons responsible for the delay in providing the information to the Appellant the PIO is directed to inform such persons of the show cause hearing and direct them to appear before the Commission with him."

Relevant Facts emerging during Showcause Hearing on 22 October 2010: The following were present

Appellant: Mr. Ravi Bhushan Bali;

Respondent: Mr. T. P. Sharma, Assistant Commissioner on behalf of Mr. Devender Kumar, PIO & CE; Mr. Nand Lal, SS, South Zone; Mr. Rajendra Prasad, SS South Zone (formerly in Narela Zone); Mr. Raj Pal Singh, SS SP Zone; Mr. Kishan Lal, SS City Zone; Mr. Om Prakash, SS Nazafgarh Zone; Mr. J. K. Gupta, SS Sahadara North Zone; Mr. Vijender Rana, SS Rohini Zone; Mr. Surender Singh, SS West Zone; Mr. Ravinder Rai, SS West Zone; Mr. Naresh Kumar, SS Central Zone;

The Commission noted that the PIO was required to provide information from the service file(s) of 13 officers. He sought the assistance of various Sanitary Superintendents on 18/02/2010 and sent reminder(s) on 04/03/2010. Only two service files from Rohini Zone were made available for which information was provided.

After the order of the Commission on September 10, 2010, the PIO provided the requisite information after obtaining the service files from various Sanitary Superintendents for another seven officers in September 2010. The service files of the following officers have not been provided so far: 1- Mr. R. K. Lakhara, 2- Mr. K. C. Gulati, 3- Mr. Om Prakash, 4- Mr. Kishori Lal

The Appellant stated that he has obtained the requisite information and does not wish to get any information on these four officers.

The Commission was informed that City Zone, Rohini Zone and North Zone had provided the information initially, which was given to the Appellant. Mr. J. K. Gupta, the then Sanitary Superintendent of City Zone has recently been posted on promotion to Sahadara Zone. Thus, Mr. Kishan Lal, Mr. J. K. Gupta and Mr. Vijender Rana cannot be held responsible for the delay in providing the information.

Mr. Surender Singh, Sanitary Superintendent, West Zone claims that he believes he was told by Mrs. Saroj, Dealing Clerk that the service files were sent to the office of the PIO, but were received back. Mr. Surinder Singh stated that this was not true and therefore either Mrs. Saroj had not told the truth or Mr. Surinder Singh was telling the truth. The Commission directs Mr. Surender Singh, Sanitary Superintendent, West Zone to produce documentary evidence to show that Mrs. Saroj had misinformed him in the manner described by him. Mr. Surender Singh will produce the evidence and bring Mrs. Saroj to the Commission to prove what he is saying on 26 October 2010 at 12.00 noon. If he does not appear before the Commission on that day and prove his contention the Commission will impose the penalty on him as per Section 20(1) of the RTI Act.

The Commission has been given no reasonable explanation for the delay in giving the information by Mr. Nand Lal, SS, South Zone, Mr. Rajendra Prasad, SS, South Zone (formerly in Narela Zone), Mr. Raj Pal Singh, SS, SP Zone, Mr. Om Prakash, SS, Nazafgarh Zone, Mr. Ravinder Rai, SS, West Zone and Mr. Naresh Kumar, SS, Central Zone. They all admitted that a letter was sent by the PIO to them to provide the service file(s) of the 13 officers as per the list. A reminder was also given to them on 04/03/2010. They provided the service files and replies only after the order of the Information Commission on September 10, 2010.

Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act states, "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." A plain reading of Section 20 reveals that there are three circumstances where the Commission must impose penalty:

1) Refusal to receive an application for information. 2) not furnishing information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 30 days. 3) malafidely denying the request for information or knowingly giving incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroying information which was the subject of the request 4) obstructing in any manner in furnishing the information. All the above are prefaced by the infraction, ' without reasonable cause'.

Section 19 (5) of the RTI Act has also stated that "In any appeal proceedings, the onus to prove that a denial of a request was justified shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, who denied the request."

Thus if without reasonable cause, information is not furnished within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7, the Commission is dutybound to levy a penalty at the rate of rupees two hundred and fifty each day till the information is furnished. Once the Commission decides that there was no reasonable cause for delay, it has to impose the penalty at the rate specified in Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act and the law gives no discretion in the matter. The burden of proving that denial of information by the PIO was justified and reasonable is clearly on the PIO as per Section 19(5) of the RTI Act.

Since no reasonable cause has been advanced by Mr. Nand Lal, SS, South Zone; Mr. Rajendra Prasad, SS South Zone (formerly in Narela Zone); Mr. Raj Pal Singh, SS SP Zone; Mr. Om Prakash, SS Nazafgarh Zone; Mr. Ravinder Rai, SS West Zone and Mr. Naresh Kumar, SS Central Zone for the delay in providing the information the Commission decides to impose the penalty as per Section 20(1) of the RTI Act. The information should have been provided before 11/03/2010 instead it has been provided only after the order of the Information Commission in September 2010. Since the delay has been for over 100 days the Commission imposes the maximum penalty of `25000/- as per Section 20(1) of the RTI Act on six officers.

Decision:

As per the provisions of Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act 2005, the Commission finds this a fit case for levying penalty on Mr. Nand Lal, SS, South Zone; Mr. Rajendra Prasad, SS South Zone (formerly in Narela Zone); Mr. Raj Pal Singh, SS SP Zone; Mr. Om Prakash, SS Nazafgarh Zone; Mr. Ravinder Rai, SS West Zone and Mr. Naresh Kumar, SS Central Zone Since the delay in providing the information has been over 100 days, the Commission is passing an order penalizing all 06 officers `25000/- each, which is the maximum penalty under the Act.

The Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Delhi is directed to recover the amount of `25000/- each from the salary of Mr. Nand Lal, SS, South Zone; Mr. Rajendra Prasad, SS, South Zone (formerly in Narela Zone); Mr. Raj Pal Singh, SS SP Zone; Mr. Om Prakash, SS Nazafgarh Zone; Mr. Ravinder Rai, SS West Zone and Mr. Naresh Kumar, SS Central Zone and remit the same by a demand draft or a Banker's Cheque in the name of the Pay & Accounts Officer, CAT, payable at New Delhi and send the same to Shri Pankaj K.P. Shreyaskar, Joint Registrar and Deputy Secretary of the Central Information Commission, 2nd Floor, August Kranti Bhawan, New Delhi 110066. The amount may be deducted at the rate of `5000/- per month every month from the salary of each officer and remitted by the 10th of every month starting from December 2010. The total amount will be remitted by 10th of April, 2011.

This decision is announced in open chamber.

Notice of this decision be given free of cost to the parties. Any information in compliance with this Order will be provided free of cost as per Section 7(6) of RTI Act.

Shailesh Gandhi, Information Commissioner

22 October 2010

(In any correspondence on this decision, mention the complete decision number.) (YM)

CC:

To

1- Municipal Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Town Hall, Delhi- 110006

2. Shri Pankaj K.P. Shreyaskar, Joint Registrar and Deputy Secretary, Central Information Commission, 2nd Floor, August Kranti Bhawan, New Delhi 110066


Courtesy_

http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/1157884/

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The RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 11 May 2005, by the Raj Sabha (Upper House) on 12 May 2005 and received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Parts of the Act came into force upon Presidential assent, but the Act came fully into force on 12 October 2005, 120 days after Presidential assent.

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