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Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Functioning of Central Information Commission in public hearing

Posted by rtiact2005 on October 1, 2006

—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Dhirendra Krishna dhirendrakrishna@ yahoo.co. uk

Functioning of Central Information Commission

Report of public hearing held on 24th Sep 2005

A public hearing took place on 24th Sep 2005 on the functioning of
Central Information Commission from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm. Annexure 1
contains the list of people who attended the hearing.

Preparations for hearing:

Letters were sent out to 824 people, who have had some kind of
experience at CIC. List of such people was obtained from CIC under
RTI Act. They were asked to share their experiences, both good and
bad, in dealing with CIC. Response was received from 182 people, out
of which 3 people expressed satisfaction, while the balance 179
people expressed varying degree of dissatisfaction with CIC’s
functioning.

All the orders passed by the Commission till 8th Sep 2005 and
published on their website were also analysed in great detail.

Violation of principles of natural justice by the CIC:

The CIC received 3059 cases till 8th Sep 2006. Out of these, CIC
claims to have disposed 1531 cases. But the website of CIC contains
only 800 cases.

Where are the balance 731 cases? All these cases were rejected
without any hearing by the staff themselves. According to Mr Singhi,
Director in CIC, “These cases were not found fit for admission.”
This appears contrary to judicial practices because in Courts, a
hearing is held even to decide whether a case is fit for admission
(except, when there is a technical error, where the registry issues
a deficiency notice and you are given a chance to rectify it). Cases
have not been rejected by the CIC staff merely on technical grounds.
They were rejected on substantive grounds also. For instance, P C
Shekhar wanted to know the number of people who applied for VRS,
after he did. His application was rejected, saying that he was
seeking opinion and not information. Ajay Goel’s application was not
only rejected but he was also reprimanded for filing such
application. Do the staff have the jurisdiction to reject cases and
reprimand appellants? Can the Commissioners delegate their judicial
functions to their staff? These questions were raised by the people
at the hearing. Interestingly, none of the rejection orders, which
were passed by the staff, are put up on the Commission’s website.

Even in those cases, which were heard by the Commissioners
themselves, they did not consider it necessary to hear appellants.
Of the 800 cases heard by the Commissioners, 353 cases were disposed
by them without calling the appellant.

So, out of 1531 cases disposed by the Commission till 8th Sep, 1084
cases i.e. 71% cases were disposed without giving an opportunity of
being heard to the appellant. The following is the Commissioner wise
statistic:

Who was called for a hearing?

Both parties Only CPIO Only appellant None
W.Habibullah 104 8 38 35
O P Kejariwal 20 4 0 1
P.Balsubramanium 8 10 0 72
M.M.Ansari 37 6 0 199
A.N.Tiwari 24 0 0 2

Large number of people are aggrieved that their cases are being
dismissed without hearing them. During public hearing, many people
presented their cases and many cases were read out.

Excerpts from some letters received from people are annexed as
Annexure 2. This is merely an illustrative list. Many more cases
were read out and presented at public hearing.

Mr Habibullah defended Commission’s practice of not hearing
appellants on three grounds that if they granted hearing in every
case, it would slow down their disposal rate; that if they were
giving a judgement in favor of the appellant, there was no need to
hear him; and that sometimes the case is so simple that it could be
decided on the basis of records itself.

These arguments did not find favor with the public. Arvind Kejriwal
of Parivartan said, “Commission’ s job was not to dispose cases but
to dispense justice. They cannot refuse a hearing to the appellants
on the ground that it would slow down their disposal rate. Imagine
if our courts also started doing that! Also, our analysis shows that
not hearing an appellant increases workload rather than decreasing
it. Almost every such appellant files a review petition, thus
increasing Commission’s workload.”

Mr Collin Gonsalves, senior advocate said, “You have to give an
opportunity to an appellant even if you pass a judgement in his
favor. Further, you cannot close a case by just passing an order
that information be provided. You should direct the PIO to provide
the information to the appellant and the appellant should submit a
letter to the Commission in the next hearing that he was satisfied
with the information received. Only then should you close a case.”

Mr Prashant Bhushan, senior advocate also expressed that the
Commission simply cannot dispose any case without hearing both the
parties. Mr Anna hazare also expressed grave concern at the
violation of principles of natural justice by the Commission. He
emphasized that the Commission should not dispose cases in this
manner.

When Mr Habibullah was still insisting that there was no need to
hear appellants before deciding cases, Mr T S Krishnamurthy, former
Chief Election Commissioner, suggested that perhaps all the
Information Commissioners may like to undergo training in judicial
processes by some retired Supreme Court judges. Mr Habibullah did
not agree to that idea.

At the end of this session, Mr Habibullah was requested for an
assurance that from now onwards, the Commission would hear
appellants in every case. To everyone’s disappointment, he refused
to give any such assurance saying, “We will do as per law.”

Penalty:

Of the 1531 cases disposed by the Commission so far, penalties have
been imposed only in two cases (this is as on 8th Sep). One of them
has been subsequently withdrawn. The other one is in the process of
being withdrawn.

This is having disastrous impact at the level of PIOs. A word has
spread that nothing happens to you whether you give information or
not. As a result, most of the PIOs have simply stopped responding to
RTI applications. Or they just reject your application citing some
section. So, almost all applications have to be taken in appeal.

On 8th Sep, there was a pendency of 1528 appeals. There is already a
waiting list of seven months at CIC i.e. if you filed an appeal
today, it will be heard seven months later. With every passing day,
the number of appeals received at CIC are increasing exponentially.
For instance on 4th Sep, which was a normal day like any other day,
89 cases were filed at CIC. At that rate, CIC is already receiving
2000 cases per month. CIC just cannot handle that kind of workload.
Within a few months, the wait period would increase to one to two
years. That would be the end of RTI. That would also be a situation,
which would be irreversible. It would be beyond redemption.
Therefore, the situation appears to be extremely urgent and
alarming. However, Mr. Habibullah did not share such pessimism.

During hearing, speaker after speaker said that it is only an
aggressive use of penalty clause, which could reduce inflow of cases
at CIC. Several cases were presented by the public and many cases
were read out, of how CIC refused to impose penalties even in very
gross violations of RTI Act also.

Under the law, it is compulsory for the CIC to impose a penalty, if
the PIO did not provide information within 30 days or provided false
or incomplete information, unless there was some reasonable cause,
which prevented the PIO to do so.

Several cases were presented during the hearing, in which the PIO
did not respond in 30 days. No response was received from first
appellate authority also in the next 30 days. Therefore, an appeal
was filed with the CIC. CIC issued notices of hearing. The PIO did
not turn up at the hearings at CIC also. Still, CIC refused to
impose penalties. Some of the reasons given for not imposing
penalties:

· The PIO was busy attending meetings and doing other work and
did not get time to attend to RTI applications.
· One of the Information Commissioners has dropped penalty
saying that though that was a fit case for imposing penalty, however
she was not doing it because she did not know the name of the PIO.
She has done this in two cases
· Many penalties have been dropped on the ground that the PIO
was still learning RTI Act.
· Maybe the PIO did not get the notice of hearing.

So far, CIC has issued show cause notices 59 cases to the PIO as to
why penalty should not be imposed on him/her. Time given in the show
cause notices has long elapsed. But the outcome of none of these
notices is there on the CIC website. What could have happened to
these show cause notices? In one case, which related to admission of
poorest children to public schools in Delhi, CIC issued notices to
Delhi Education Department on 27th March to show cause within 15
days as to why penalty should not be imposed on them. They were also
directed to provide information within 15 days. Delhi Government was
directed to explore whether that case should be handed over to CBI.
Information in these cases has not been received so far. But Mr.
Habibullah informed that he had dropped the penalty on the PIO, when
the PIO met Mr. Habibullah in his room and pleaded mercy.

So, have the balance 58 penalty notices also been dropped secretly?
And why are the orders dropping penalties not posted on CIC’s
website?

Mr E. A. S. Sarma, former expenditure secretary, said that RTI Act
would not take off until penalty clause was effectively invoked. Mr
Anna Hazare said that the bureaucracy never wanted penalty clause in
RTI Act, when this was being drafted. So, he will not allow the
Information Commissioners to dilute this provision in this manner.

However, Mr Habibullah did not give any assurance on this count.

Though many cases were presented and read out, however, we are
annexing a few grave cases for illustration. Please see Annexure 3.

Out of turn disposals:

When a person files an appeal with the Commission, he does not
receive any reply, not even an acknowledgement. He is at the mercy
of the babus at CIC. He keeps calling them up, e-mailing them,
visiting them to know the status of his case and to request them to
put it up to the Commissioner expeditiously. An analysis shows that
many cases were dealt within a few weeks of filing when so many
others were languishing for months. Many cases of out of turn
disposals have come to light. For instance,

In Mr. Habibullah’s bench
(The following are mere illustrations. Several out of turn hearings
have taken place in almost all benches)

Date of filing appeal at CIC Date of hearing
Dr Suresh 29.12.05 2.8.06
R K Gupta 19.4.06 15.5.06

R P Jain 16.2.06 1.9.06
Piyush Mohapatra 20.3.06 30.5.06

This creates a scope for corruption. Therefore, proper systems
should be immediately put in place.

Information denied on grounds of fiduciary relationship etc:

Overall picture of case disposals at CIC:

Information provided Information rejected
W. Habibullah 118 66
O P Kejariwal 20 13
Padma Blasubramanium 46 47
M.M.Ansari 47 207
Tiwari 11 15

(The above information is only for single member benches.
Information for double member benches has also been compiled, but is
not being presented here because the practice of double member
benches has been dispensed with by the CIC)

Please read some illustrations in Annexure 4, on how cases have been
rejected at CIC.

Many letters have been received and many people complained during
hearing that the cases were being rejected by the Commissioners in
an arbitrary and whimsical fashion. Many cases have been dismissed
on the ground that information asked for was fiduciary in nature.
Some instances:

1. Someone applied for a petrol pump. He did not get it. He
asked for the manner in which the interview board had evaluated the
applicants and how much marks did each one get. This information was
refused saying that the relationship between the interview board and
HPCL was fiduciary.
2. The relationship between examiner and Board of examination
has also been declared as fiduciary.
3. Relationship between government employee and government has
also been termed as fiduciary.
4. Every citizen files his income tax return to the government
in his fiduciary capacity.

Mr Collin Gonsalves strongly reacted to such an abuse of the word
fiduciary. He said that any information given by one agency to
another in confidence cannot be termed as fiduciary. There are some
relationships, which have been universally recognized as fiduciary
like that of a doctor and a patient, advocate and client. The above
examples do not qualify for fiduciary relationship by any stretch of
imagination.

Mr E A S Sarma also reacted very strongly saying that nothing would
be left for disclosure if the term “fiduciary” were given such an
interpretation.

Mr Prashant Bhushan also objected to such misuse of the term
fiduciary.

It was also discussed that many appeals had been dismissed on the
ground that the information sought was private and had no public
interest. Some instances:

· Someone made an application for something in a Government
Department. He lost his application. He applied under RTI for a copy
of his own application, which was rejected saying that this was
private information, which had no public interest.
· Someone was appointed as Deputy Director in Ministry of
Commerce despite being declared unfit. Someone asked for copy of his
medical report. This was rejected under the same clause.
· Someone applied for a kerosene depot. He filed an
application asking for the status of his own application. It was
rejected saying that this was private information and had no public
interest.

During public hearing, the above cases were considered as misuse of
this clause. Firstly, private information can be denied only if it
violates the privacy of an individual. My own information cannot
violate the privacy of any other individual. So, public interest
over ride should not be applied where a person is asking for his own
information.

Anna Hazare announced that if the Information Commissioners did not
improve their functioning within two months, he would launch a
nation wide agitation.

The meeting ended with an assurance from Mr Habibullah that he would
come for any such meeting, whenever it is organized in future.

Important note:

Since this is a very brief and quick summary of the proceedings, the
comments, presentations etc made by many individuals have not
figured here. A detailed transcript of the entire proceedings is
being made, which is likely to take time. Comments made by every
individual will find place in that transcript.

Summary of recommendations, which emerged during the hearing:

1. Opportunity of being heard should be given to both parties
in every case. It is upto the party to decide whether they wish to
be physically present or send their written comments or decide not
to avail of the opportunity.
2. No case should be closed, just by ordering that information
be provided in the next 15 days etc. In most of the cases, it
has been seen that the PIO does not comply with such an order. As a
result, the appellant has to again approach the Commission and again
wait for 7 months for his/her turn to come. Therefore, after passing
an order, the case should be adjourned, and not closed. On the next
hearing, if the appellant confirms having received information to
his/her satisfaction, only then should a case be closed. This is the
practice which is being successfully followed by Public Grievance
Commission in Delhi for the last five years and also by State
Information Commission of UP.
3. The Information Commissioners should undergo training in
judicial processes from some retired Supreme Court judges.
4. Penalty should be imposed in every case of violation by
government officials. Else RTI would soon be dead.
5. Some guidelines should be made on the terms
like “fiduciary”, “private information” and “public interest”, which
should be uniformly adhered to by all the Commissioners.
6. Appeal number should be given to every appellant/complaina nt
and it should be communicated to him within 24 hours of receipt of
his appeal/complaint. Within the next 24 hours, it should be put up
on the website. Status of every appeal should be provided on the
website, even if it is treated as inadmissible ab-initio.
7. No case should be taken up on out of turn basis, unless
there is some grave public interest involved, which should be
mentioned in the order.
8. There should be a public hearing every three months, which
should be attended by all Commissioners.

Annexure 1

From Central Information Commission:

Sh Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner
Dr O P Kejariwal, Information Commissioner
Sh L C Singhi, Director, CIC

List of panelists:

S. No Name
1. Dr P. C. Alexander Member of Rajya Sabha,Former
Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India,Former Governor
of Tamil Nadu & Maharashtra
2. Mr T. S. Krishnamurthy Former Chief Election Commissioner
3. Mr E. A. S. Sarma Former Expenditure Secretary
4. Dr Yogendra Narain Secretary General Rajya Sabha
5. Ms Nandita Haksar Human Rights activist and Senior
Advocate
6. Mr Anna Hazare Padma Bhushan & RTI activist
7. Mr Sandeep Pandey RTI activist and Magsaysay Awardee
8. Mr Surya Sethi Advisor Planning Commission
9. Mr Shankker Iyer Managing Editor, India Today
10. Mr Colin Gonsales Senior Advocate, Supreme Court
11. Mr Prashant Bhushan Senior Advocate, Supreme Court

Moderators:

The hearing was moderated by independent moderators, namely Mr
Siddharth Pandey and Mr Srinivas Jain from NDTV and Mr Yogendra
Yadav from CSDS.

Participants:

About 200 people, who had filed appeals at the CIC in the last few
months, participated and shared their experiences.

Annexure 2

Instances of cases dismissed without hearing people

Dr. Roop vs Office of the Director General of Income Tax [31.08.06]

“I have filed a complaint on 29.03.06 with CIC. I got a decision
regarding the complaint by post on 9.09.06. But I did not get any
copy of response from respondent to the honorable commission nor I
got any intimation from the commission about the date of hearing of
the matter. Thus I did not get any opportunity to put my comments on
the stand taken by the respondent.”

Pankaj Khanna vs. HPCL [14.03.06]

“The petitioner has sent ten appeals. Out of which an Information
Commissioner has disposed three off without considering Petitioner’s
reply and without giving him any opportunity of personal hearing. No
opportunity has been given on any one of ten appeals even on the
matter of Life and Liberty.”

Ketan Modi

Ketan Modi filed Second Appeal with CIC. He did not enclose the
correspondence with the CPIO/AA. So, it was assumed that he had not
filed first appeal and his case was dismissed, though he had filed
first appeal. If the Information Commissioner had called him, he
could have explained this fact. Ketan filed a review petition. The
Review Application was also dismissed without going into the merits
and without hearing him.

Sh. N. K. Sethi vs Indian Trade Promotion Organisation [12.06.06]

“I filed appeal with CIC dated 9.02.06. I followed in CIC
telephonically (talked to Mr. Ajay on 9.05.06 at 11.35AM). I made a
personal visit to CIC on 18.05.06 to check from Dr. Munish Kumar
regarding the status of my appeal. I was told the matter is under
submission with Mrs. Balasubramaniam. On 12.06.06, I sent an Email
to Mrs. Padma Balasubramaniam. Then suddenly on 13th June 06, I saw
on the website of CIC that decision on my appeal had been given on
12.06.06 without giving me a chance of personal hearing. I was
shocked to see my appeal having been rejected and I had not been
called even. My faith in justice under RTI Act from the Commission
was totally shattered. I again wrote to the CIC on 2.06.06
mentioning that justice had been denied to me as I had not been
called for personal hearing but till date nothing has been done.”

Vishwanath Poddar vs The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
[09.08.06]

The CIC ruled:

“The appellant had filed certain complaints against M/s Bathiya &
Associates, Mumbai. In this regard, he sought information relating
to the status the action taken by the competent authority.

The CPIO and the appellate authority have given para-wise response
to his request for information, yet the appellant is not satisfied
with their responses.

Since there is no denial of information as per the provision of he
Act, the appellant may take up the matter relating to his grievances
to the appropriate authority.”

[This order has been passed without calling any of the parties. The
Information Commissioner believes that because a parawise reply has
been provided, hence there is no denial of information. But who
would decide whether information has been provided. If the
Commissioner had called the appellant for a hearing, he would have
told why he was dissatisfied. ]

Treesa Irish vs CPIO, Kerela Postal Circle, Trivndrum [06.02.06]

“The CPIO, Kerala Postal Circle, has declined to furnish a photocopy
of an evaluated answer sheet of the appellant, as sought for by her
on the ground that no public interest was involved in her request.
The appellate authority, while concurring with the decision of the
CPIO, has also added another reason for rejection that the
disclosure would compromise the fairness and impartiality of the
selection process… Therefore, we find that in case of evaluated
answer papers the information available with the public authority
is, in his fiduciary relationship, the disclosure of which is exempt
u/s 8(1)(e). In addition, when a candidate seeks for a copy of the
evaluated answer paper, either of his/her own or others, it is
purely a personal information, the disclosure of which has no
relation to any public interest or activity and this has been
covered u/s 8(1)(j) of the Act…”

[The Information Commissioner not only defended the CPIO/AA’s
opinion which failed to provide any reasonable cause for rejection,
but took the liberty to add another cause [denial u/s 8 (1)(e)] for
rejection without giving an opportunity to the applicant to respond.]

Annexure 3

Instances of gross violations of RTI Act. Still CIC refuses to
impose penalties

A case of blatant favoritism:

(Kusum Devi & Others vs. Delhi Development Authority)

Thirty-eight residents of East Delhi filed individual RTI
applications seeking status of the daily progress made on their
complaints to the DDA. On not receiving any response within the time
limit specified, the applicants filed first appeals. Again, no
response was received. The applicants then filed a second appeal in
the CIC. CIC issued notice of hearing to the DDA. DDA did not show
up for the first hearing on 29.05.06. Next date was fixed for
17.08.06. DDA again did not turn up. CIC’s office contacted CPIO on
telephone during the hearing but could not get any information about
his whereabouts. The CIC issued show cause notice to the CPIO why a
penalty should not be imposed on him in each of the 38 cases and
another date of hearing was fixed. Finally, CPIO turned up on the
next date. CIC was so happy to finally see him that he dropped the
penalty stating that the CPIO “has taken action on the applications
made in this case but has not informed appellants of the action
taken…CPIO has pleaded that the applicants of this nature were more
than 245, making it time consuming supplying information to all….”
The only action that CPIO had taken was to transfer all the cases to
the Education Department, whereas the applications pertained to him
and he was supposed to provide information. This order has not been
placed on the CIC’s website. The 38 applicants are yet to receive
any piece of information so far.

It was a question of the lives of slum children:

Bobby Verma and others vs. Directorate of Education, Delhi

Forty residents from East Delhi made individual requests for
information to the Deputy Director Education (East) on 1.12.05 on
the issue of admission of students from Economically Weaker Section
to Public Schools. Many of them did not receive any response in 30
days. First appeal was filed on 18.01.06. The applicants were
invited to the first appeal hearing on 10.02.06. The Appellate
Authority observed that information had been provided to the
satisfaction of appellants, which was blatantly wrong. A second
appeal was filed on 6.03.06 with the CIC. CIC scheduled a hearing on
23.03.06. The PIO was directed to provide information in 15 days and
was issued a show cause notice as to why he should not be penalized
for not providing information within 30 days. The CIC also ordered
that the Government of NCT would examine if there were any
suspicions of venality in admission warranting an enquiry by the
CBI. To date no response has been received. In the meanwhile, Mr
Habibullah dropped the penalty, when CPIO met him in his chamber and
pleaded mercy. This order of dropping penalty is also not there on
CIC’s website. When people came to know that Mr Habibullah has
dropped penalties, they filed a review petition. That review
petition has not come up for hearing in the last five months.

PIO caught lying. CIC refuses to impose penalty

Bina Popli vs. Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation

Mrs. Bina Popli is a widow of a former Senior Inspector in CSO,
Department of Statistics. She applied for information seeking copies
of documents in the personal file of her late husband Shri Popli. On
not receiving a response even after the lapse of 45 days, she
applied for inspection of files. No response was received on this
request as well and she filed an appeal. Her first appeal request
was dismissed on the ground, “Personal file of late Joginder Singh
Popli is not traceable in this office, as this is a 20 year old case…
his name has been struck off from roll of this Department.” The
appeal was heard by CIC and it noted that several documents
concerning Shri Popli are available within the public authority. The
CPIO/AA had in fact lied to the applicant. However, the CIC refused
to impose penalty on the ground ” CPIO who bears the principal
responsibility for ensuring that the appellant is kept informed is,
therefore liable to penal action u/s 20(1). However, he has retired
since. Also there were several officials who processed the papers
who become liable for penal action u/s 5(5) for misinforming the
CPIO and appellant regarding availability of the record”. But
despite making such strong observations, the CIC refused to impose
penalty. Even if a person has retired, a penalty could be imposed on
him and the amount could be recovered from his pensionary benefits.

CIC finds it a fit case for penalty but does not impose one

D. M. Solanki vs. DRM/SEC Railway, Nagpur

Mr. Solank is a senior citizen who attempted to file an RTI
application with the PIO, DRM SEC Railway, Nagpur. The PIO and the
chief cashier refused to accept his application and the application
fee. The applicant therefore filed his application with Divisional
Railway Manager. Mr. Solanki filed a complaint with the CIC. The CIC
ordered saying that it is a “fit case for proceeding against PIO u/s
20 (1) for levy of penalty. Four months have passed since, the
applicant is awaiting a response.” However, no penalty was imposed.

No Response received still no penalty

D. P. Sangar vs. Ministry of Environment & Forests

v Application filed on 18.11.05 NO RESPONSE
v Two reminders sent NO RESPONSE
v Appeal filed in the CIC on 19.04.06
v CIC holds it to be a case of malafide denial.
v Show cause notice for penalty issued
v No penalty imposed

Show cause notices but no penalties CIC barks but does not bite

Following are some cases where show cause notices were issued but no
penalties were imposed. No news on what happened to these notices.
Some of them were secretly dropped by Mr Habibullah without
informing appellant. Orders dropping penalties have not been put up
on website

Jai Dev vs. Dy. Commissioner (South) Revenue, MCD [07.08.06]

“…the information should have been provided…by not providing this,
PIO has rendered himself liable to penalty u/s 20 (1)…claiming
evidently fictitiously to have been forwarded information leads to
suspicion of malafide intent…he will show cause on 16.08.06”

D. P. Sangar vs. Ministry Environment & Forests [04.08.06]

“The letter of response to the application till such time as notice
was issued to the Public authority by the Commission leads to
suspicion of malafide denial…CPIO will u/s 20 (1) within fifteen
days show cause why a penalty should not be imposed…”

Dr. Anand Akhila vs. Council of Scientific & Industrial Research
(CSIR) [12.05.06]

“The PIO seems to have had no reasonable ground for delay in sending
the brief and slipshod response to the application…the complaint of
malafide intent has not been denied…he will show cause u/s 20 (1)
within ten working days why he should not pay the penalty…”

Piyush Mohapatra vs. Ministry of Environment & Forests [30.05.06]

“Since PIO has been held in violation of prescribed limits u/s 7(1)…
he may appear before the Commission on June 12, 2006 to show cause
why penalty u/s 20 (1) should not be imposed on him…”

Since I don’t know names of CPIO No penalty!

1. Ram Bhawan Singh vs. Chief Post Master General, Bihar Circle
[17.07.06]

Application for information as well as first appeal received no
response. The matter went into second appeal and the Information
Commissioner stated, ” the admitted fact is that information sought
for on 31.12.05 was provided in full only on 12.6.06, that is after
a period of more than 150 days, not withstanding the fact that in
terms of RTI Act…Neither CPIO or Appellate authority has cared to
explain the delay…it would have been proper to issue show cause
notice to them as to why penalty should not be imposed. However, in
the absence of the names of the CPIO and designated appellate
authority…”

2. R. N. Rai vs. Food Corporation of India [21.07.06]

“The appellant is justified in seeking for imposition of penalty for
the delay and also for the wrong stand taken in the reply. However,
since the penalty is imposed only on the CPIO and in the absence of
definite information relating to the designated CPIO…”

3. Nagendra Prasad vs. Allahabad Central Circle, CPWD [ 17.07.06]

“…there has been a delay of over 75 days…I would have to issue a
show cause notice to the CPIO…however, in the absence of details
like name of the CPIO and whether this application was handled by
any designated CPIO etc…”

Annexure 4

Instances of arbitrary rejection of cases

Manish Dnyaneshwar Thool Vs. HPCL Mumbai [20.04.06]

Munesh applied for a petrol pump. He did not get it. He asked for
copies of application forms of other candidates and other
information related to selection. CIC decision: “The Documents
submitted by individual applicants contain a lot of information of
confidential nature. The marks awarded by the panel experts to each
candidate under different parameters are of confidential nature and
this act has been carried out by them in fiduciary capacity which is
exempt u/s 8 (1) (e).”

Sunita vs Reserve Bank of India [19.06.06]

Some employees of Gurgaon Gramin Bank fraudulently withdrew money
from the account of a housewife, Mrs Sunita. She complained to RBI
and also filed a criminal complaint. Later, she filed an RTI
application in RBI asking for action taken on her complaint. RBI
rejected her request. When she appealed to CIC, CIC rejected her
request saying that relationship between RBI and Gramin Bank was
fiduciary:

“…the matter relates to the complaint of the appellant about the
alleged unauthorized withdrawal of Rs. 10,000/- from the saving
account of the appellant in Gurgaon Gramin bank. The appellant has
stated that she has filed a case in the court and she wanted to file
the reply of the Reserve Bank in the court…” CIC ruled “…In the
instant case, file notings in possession of RBI is furnished by the
Gramin Bank (third party) in fiduciary capacity. Therefore, the
exemption u/s 8(1)(e) has been correctly applied by the public
authority.”

Dr. K H Jambhulkar vs HPCL [31.08.06]

In response to an advertisement by the HPCL for retail outlet
(Petrol Pump) dealership at Nandanvan, Nagpur, under `freedom
fighters’ category, the appellant had applied and was finally
unsuccessful. Aggrieved by the decision of the HPCL, he sought a
copy of the application and other related documents submitted by the
first empanelled candidate. While part of the information was
furnished the other part was denied on the ground that the
information sought pertain to third party, the disclosure of which
does not fall under the public doman u/s 8(1)(d) &(j) of the Act.
The Commission ruled that “the marks awarded by the panel experts to
each candidate under different parameters are of confidential nature
and this act has been carried out by them in fiduciary capacity,
which is exempt u/s 8(1)(e). The appeal is accordingly disposed off.”

Bhagwan Chand Saxena Vs. Safdarjung Hospital [03.04.06] & EIC
[13.04.06]

The appellant sought for a certified copy of medical certificate
issued in respect of one Sh. Jaipalan who had been allegedly
appointed as Assistant Director in Ministry of commerce even though
he was declared as medically unfit. CIC ruled, “Disclosure of
medical reports of any citizen would amount to invasion of his
privacy. Appeal is dismissed.”

In several cases, people have asked for annual property returns of
officers. These have been denied saying that this is personal
information.

Mahender Kumar Vs NABARD [26.07.06]

The appellant asked for information on the number of vigilance cases
pending enquiry and other related information.

It was held that “the Appellant who is an Officer in NABARD, has
sought information related to administrative issues within the bank,
through various correspondence. ”

CPIO denied information saying that there was no public interest

CIC held “There is no denial of information. ”

A. X. S. Jiwan vs Commissioner Central Excise [29.03.06]

“In the present case information seeker has asked several questions
expecting the CPIO to reply in “yes” or “no”, which the CPIO ought
not to do.”

D. V. Rao vs Dept of Legal Affairs [21.04.06]

“RTI Act does not cast any obligation on public authority to answer
queries, as in the case, in which a petitioner attemts to elicit
anwers to his questions with prefixes such as “Why”, What”, “When”
and “Whether”.”

One Response to “Functioning of Central Information Commission in public hearing”

  1. B.H. VEERESHA said

    The public hearing has finally resulted in exposing corrupt practice existing in the Central Information Commission. This also exposed incompetence of some of the Central Information Commissioners who deserves to be publicly hanged for their connivance with the Public Information Officers in withholding the information which are to be disclosed by the Public Authorities.

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