Monday, October 25, 2010

CIC penalised Official for delay in providing correct information

Official penalised for delay in providing correct information to RTI applicant

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission has slapped a penalty of Rs. 10,000 on the State Government's Social Welfare Department senior superintendent (administration) for delay in providing correct information to an RTI applicant.

The complaint to the CIC was filed by Subhash Baghel of non-government organisation Pratidhi pointing out deficiencies in the information provided by the Department on queries regarding any departmental enquiry against the officials accused in two cases registered by the Anti-Corruption Branch in 2008 and whether the name of any accused official was recommended for promotion.

The CIC had in August issued show-cause notices to a former and an incumbent public information official observing that the former appeared to have provided false information and the other had not supplied complete information within 30 days to two RTI applicants seeking details on the officials booked in the corruption cases.

The matter pertained to separate RTI applications filed by two Pratidhi representatives in November 2009 and in May this year.

In reply to the first application, the then PIO K.K. Bhalla had last year informed that enquiry proceedings had been initiated against some officials booked by the ACB. However, in reply to the second application this year, PIO O.P. Bhatti informed that no departmental inquiry was initiated.

First order

Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, in his first order on the issue, had directed PIO (Administration) R.K. Meena to give an affidavit to the complainant regarding the reply that no official had been recommended for promotion to the post of Joint Director in the Department during the month prior to the day the RTI application was filed.

During the show-cause hearing on October 1, the CIC stated that Mr. Bhatti and Mr. Meena had defied the Commission's order to provide affidavits before August 30 and September 5, respectively. "They have only given a statement on a simple paper to the complainant," it said. The CIC also asked Mr. Bhalla to produce documentary evidence to substantiate that inquiry proceedings against some accused officials had been ordered.

The Commission also issued a show-cause notice to Mr. Meena as to why penalty under Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act should not be levied on him for failing to comply with the CIC order.

During the show-cause hearing on October 18, the Information Commissioner noted that Mr. Meena had failed to provide the affidavit to the complainant and had also failed to come before the Commission for explanation. He found it a fit case for levying penalty.

As the appellant produced documents before the Commission purportedly showing that the promotion of an accused official in a case was already in progress, the CIC directed Mr. Meena to show-cause on December 8 why penalty and disciplinary action should not be imposed on him for providing false information.

The CIC also pulled up Mr. Bhalla regarding information on departmental enquiries, stating that he should convey information verbatim based on the findings.

Courtesy_

For FULL Order click at: http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/631181/

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

Club Building, Opposite Ber Sarai Market,

Old JNU Campus, New Delhi - 110067.

Tel: +91-11-26161796

Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2010/000963/9070Penalty-I

Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2010/000963

Complainant : Mr. Subhash Baghel C/o Pratidhi, Room No. 38, Iind Floor, Shalarpur, Police Station Complex, Pusta Road, Ramesh Park, Delhi 110092.

Respondent : Mr. R. K. Meena Public Information Officer & Senior Superintendent/Dy. Director, Social Welfare Department, GNCTD, GNLS Building Complex, Delhi Gate, Delhi.

RTI application filed on : 11/05/2010 PIO, Replied : 26/06/2010, First Appeal filed on : Not filed Complaint Received on : 02/07/2010

Sl. Information Sought Reply of the PIO

1. Whether ACB had approached the Govt. for prosecution/sanction of the officers No. who were accused in FIR No. 18/08 and 19/08. If yes, then copy of the letter and concerned file.

2. The time for which the file was pending before the concerned authority along Not applicable in with name and designation of concerned officer and time frame for such view of point no. 1 sanction.

3. Status of the departmental enquiry against the officials along with the details ofNo RDA has been each official. recommended against accused person till then.

4. Time frame to finalize such departmental enquiry as per the Govt. rules. Not applicable in view of point no.3.

5. Whether any official name had been recommended for the promotion to the Not related to ACB post of Joint Director in the Department of Social Welfare during last one month. If yes, then name of the official. Whether the same officer was involved in FIR No. 18/08/ and 24/06/2008. Whether such officers were eligible for promotion if any criminal/departmental case was pending against them.

6. Whether those officers were posted in important/sensitive position within the As above. department, if so, details of posting of each officer against their name. Details of policy regarding posting of tainted officers.

Grounds for Complaint:

Non-receipt of proper information from the PIO.

Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing on 20 August 2010: "The following were present

Complainant: Mr. R. M. Prasad and Ms. Sonam Gulati representing Mr. Subhash Baghel; Respondent: Mr. R. K. Meena, Public Information Officer &Senior Superintendent/Dy. Director; Mr. O. P. Bhatti, Senior Superintendent (Vigilance);

The complainant states that most of the queries should have been addressed by Department of Social Welfare to whom the RTI Application has been sent. He states that instead providing information which was held by them they unnecessarily transferred the RTI application to the Anti Corruption Branch and the Department of Vigilance. He also states that he was not informed about this transfer and was informed about this transfer only on 05/08/2010. Considering the information provided to the complainant from the different PIOs the following deficiencies have been found:

1- Query-3: The PIO Mr. O. P. Bhatti from Social Welfare has informed the complainant that no departmental inquiry has been initiated against the accused persons. The complainant has earlier been given information in an earlier RTI application by Mr. K. K. Bhalla, Senior Superintend (Vigilance) that inquiry proceedings have been ordered by the competent authority. Thus there is an evident contradiction in the two statements. Mr. O. P. Bhatti will also provide an affidavit stating that no departmental inquiry has been initiated against the accused persons.

2- Query-5: In response to the complainant's query any officers name has been recommended of promotion to the post of Joint Director, the information provided by the PIO (Admin) Department of social of Welfare on 31 May 2010 is, "Not yet". The Complainant states that this statement is false. The PIO (Admin) will provide an affidavit to this effect to the Complainant.

The complainant has pointed out to the Commission that though the application was completely transferred by PIO Social Welfare, the FAA of Anti Corruption Bureau had sought to put the responsibility of filing the first appeal on the complainant against the PIO of Social Welfare. This position is now correct and if the PIO of ACB felt that some queries needed to be answered by the PIO Social Welfare he should have transferred it back.

It is apparent that the information has been received very late on 21/07/2010 from the PIO of social welfare department. The PIO of Social Welfare Department has most of the information but instead of providing the information transferred it unnecessarily.

It appears that Mr. K. K. Bhalla the then PIO has provided false information to the Complainant."

Commission's Decision dated 20 August 2010:

"The Complaint is allowed.

The PIO Mr. O. P. Bhatti is directed to provide the information on point-1 (query-3) as directed above to the complainant before 30 August 2010.

Mr. R. K. Meena, Public Information Officer &Senior Superintendent/Dy. Director will provide an affidavit as stated above on point-2 to the complainant before 05 September 2010.

It appears that Mr. K. K. Bhalla the then PIO has provided false information to the Complainant. A showcause notice is being issued to him, and he is directed give his reasons to the Commission to show cause why penalty should not be levied on him.

Mr. K. K. Bhalla will present himself before the Commission at the above address on 01 October 2010 at 2.30pm alongwith his written submissions showing cause why penalty should not be imposed on him as mandated under Section 20 (1). He will also submit proof of having given the information to the Complainant .

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

The Commission has also observed that Mr. O. P. Bhatti is responsible for not supplying the complete, required information within 30 days as required by the law. It appears that the PIO's actions attract the penal provisions of Section 20 (1). A showcause notice is being issued to him, and he is directed give his reasons to the Commission to show cause why penalty should not be levied on him.

Mr. O. P. Bhatti will present himself before the Commission at the above address on 01 October 2010 at 2.30pm alongwith his written submissions showing cause why penalty should not be imposed on him as mandated under Section 20 (1). He will also submit proof of having given the information to the Complainant .

If there are other persons responsible for the delay in providing the information to the Complainant 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 that emerged during the Showcause Hearing on 01 October 2010: The following were present

Complainant: Mr. R. M. Prasad representing Mr. Subhash Baghel; Respondent: Mr. K. K. Bhalla the then PIO presently Sr. Superintendent, Dept. of Woman & Child Development, 1, Canning Lane, K. G. Marg, New Delhi; Mr. O. P. Bhatti, Sr. Superintendent & present PIO;

"Mr. O.P. Bhatti and Mr. R. K. Meena have defied the order of the Commission to provide the affidavits before 30 August 2010 and 05 September 2010 respectively. They have only given a statement on a simple paper to the Complainant . Mr. O. P. Bhatti was asked by the Commission why he did not give the affidavit he only state that he will now provide the affidavit on 04 October 2010 to the Complainant . Mr. Bhatti was asked for reasons for defying the order of the Commission. Mr. Bhatti is able to give no reasons to justify not giving the affidavit as ordered by the Commission. Mr. K. K. Bhalla has in an earlier RTI application informed the Complainant that, "inquiry proceedings have been ordered by the competent authority in one case involving Mr. R. K. Sharma Mr. Mahesh Sharma and Mrs. Rajeshwari Chauhan." The Complainant states that this information appears to be false since Mr. Bhatti in the present RTI application has stated that no inquiry proceedings have been ordered. Mr. K. K. Bhalla is directed to produce any documentary evidence to substantiate his claim before the Commission on 18 October 2010 at 05.00PM. If he does not produce any evidence the Commission will assume that he has given false information. Mr. Bhalla is directed to showcause why penalty under Section 20(1) and disciplinary action against Section 20(2) should not be recommended against him if he do not produce any evidence that the information provide by him was not false.

The Commission also issues a showcause notice to Mr. R. K. Meena, Public Information Officer &Senior Superintendent/Dy. Director on 18 October 2010 at 05.00PM. To showcause why penalty under Section 20(1) should not be levied on him for failing to comply with the order of the Commission.

Mr. K. K. Bhalla is directed to produce any documentary evidence to substantiate his claim before the Commission on 18 October 2010 at 05.00PM."

Relevant Facts emerging during Showcause Hearing on 18 October 2010: The following were present

Complainant: Mr. R. M. Prasad representing Mr. Subhash Baghel; Respondent: Mr. K. K. Bhalla the then PIO; presently Sr. Superintendent, Dept. of Woman & Child Development, 1, Canning Lane, K. G. Marg, New Delhi;

The Complainant also claims that the information provided by him is false. The Complainant is directed to send his reasons for claiming that the information is false to respondent and the Commission. The Commission has looked at the file noting based on which respondent had given the statement. After hearing both sides it comes to the conclusion that where as the statement by Mr. Bhalla is not strictly true it would have to give the benefit of doubt that he was conveying the meaning in the statement when he had given the information to the Complainant earlier. The Commission warns Mr. Bhalla that in matters such as this he should convey the information verbatim based on the findings.

The Commission notes that Mr. R. K. Meena PIO & Sr. Superintendent has failed to provide the affidavit to the Complainant as had been ordered and has also failed to come before the Commission to give any explanation for not following the directions of the Commission. Mr. Meena has not taken the opportunity of hearing given to him and hence it appears that he has no reasonable cause to offer for not providing the affidavit to the Complainant as per the Commission's direction on 20 August 2010. In view of this the Commission finds this as a fit case for levy of penalty under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act on Mr. R. K. Meena, PIO & Sr. Superintendent. The Commission had ordered Mr. Meena to give the affidavit to the Complainant before 05/09/2010 and he has not complied with this direction so far. Since has not provided the affidavit which the information to the Complainant about the truthfulness of his statement the Commission imposes a penalty on Mr. R. K. Meena for a delay of 40 days in providing the affidavit at `250/- per day of delay i.e. `250/- X 40 days = `10000/-.

If Mr. R. K. Meena does not provide the affidavit as directed by the Commission before 30 October 2010 the Commission will consider recommending disciplinary action against him under Section 20(2) of the RTI Act.

The appellant also alleges that the information which was provided by Mr. R. K. Meena that no officers had been proposed for promotion in response to which query no.-5 was false. He has produced before the Commission a set of papers by which he claims that a promotion of Mr. P. N. Jha was already in progress and the PIO Mr. R. K. Meena has given false information. The complainant also shows that there is an arrest report against Mr. P. N. Jha and yet he was sought to be promoted.

The Commission directs Mr. R. K. Meena to present himself before the Commission on 08 December 2010 at 04.30PM to show cause why penalty under Section 20(1) and disciplinary action under Section 20(2) of the RTI Act should not be imposed on him for providing false information to the complainant.

Decision:

As per the provisions of Section 20 (1), the Commission finds this as a fit case for levying penalty on Mr. R. K. Meena, Public Information Officer & Senior Superintendent. Since the delay in providing the correct information has been of 40 days, the Commission is passing an order penalizing Mr. R. K. Meena `10,000/-.

The Chief Secretary of GNCT of Delhi is directed to recover the amount of `10,000/- from the salary of Mr. R. K. Meena 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 from the salary of Mr. R. K. Meena and remitted by the 10th November 2010 and 10th December 2010. The total amount of `10,000/- will be remitted by 10th of December, 2010.

Shailesh Gandhi, Information Commissioner.

18 October 2010

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

CC: 

To

1- The Chief Secretary, GNCT of Delhi, New Delhi

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/631181/


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

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.

Search our Blog

Google
 

Subscribe this Blog to your E-mail


Disclaimer

This Blog Spot is meant for publishing reports about the usage of RTI Act (Right to Information Act, 2005) so as to create an awareness to the general public and also to keep it as a ready reckoner by them. So the readers may extend their gratitude towards the Author as we quoted at the bottom of each Post under the title "Courtesy".Furthermore, the Blog Authors are no way responsible for the correctness of the materials published herein and the readers may verify the concerned valuable sources.

Dinamani - RTI News