Dealing assistant, the deemed PIO under Secion 5(5) of the RTI Act, was imposed penalty of Rs 1000/-

Shri Balbir Singh, the Applicant filed an RTI application dt.24.7.09 with the CPIO, O/o CPMG, Ambala requesting for information against 9 points with regard to transfer procedures. On not receiving any reply, he filed an appeal dt.31.8.09 with the Appellate Authority. On not receiving any reply from the First Appellate authority, he filed a complaint dt.nil before CIC. The CIC vide its order dt.30.10.09 directed the PIO to provide the information by 30.11.09 and to show cause in writing for the delay in furnishing information, by 4.12.09.
The Bench of Mrs. Annapurna Dixit, Information Commissioner, scheduled the hearing for December 10, 2009.  Shri R.S.Yadav, CPIO, Shri S.N.Bhatia, Shri R.D.Bansal and Shri Ram Nath represented the Public Authority. The applicant was not present during the hearing.


Shri R.S.Yadav, CPIO vide his letter dt.-.11.09 submitted that on receipt of CIC order dt.30.10.09, the whole episode came to light and explanation of the official at fault was called for keeping the RTI application under active consideration. The RTI application was received on 27.7.09 and it was transferred to the staff section on 29.7.09 where it was to be dealt with by Shri Som Nath Bhatia, the then Dealing Assistant and Section Supervisor (Staff Section) working under the control of Shri V.K.Malhotra, the then APMG (Staff) & PIO (retired on superannuation on 30.9.09). He added that Mr.S.N.Bhatia could not put up the said RTI application to Shri Malhotra due to heavy rush of work as well as ill health and he put up the RTI application only on 3.9.09 with a draft letter addressed to the Complainant requesting him to furnish the receipt of Rs.10/- for taking further action. Shri Malhotra signed the draft letter and marked the file back to Shri Bhatia on 8.9.09. Since, the Complainant was BPL card holder, no fee was to be charged from him and as such the letter was not dispatched to the Complainant. The Respondent emphasized the fact that due to heavy rush of work, Shri S.N.Bhatia forgot to put up the file to the PIO along with the information sought by the Complainant. On receipt of the CIC’s order, information was supplied to the Complainant on 18.11.09. He further added that process for direct recruitment of Postal Assistants in Circle Office/Army Postal Service is in progress and a large number of applications received for the posts are being processed to finalize the recruitment by 31.12.09, the target date fixed by the Postal Directorate. In this way, Shri S.N.Bhatia and Shri Malhotra were busy in finalizing recruitment process of Postal Assistants and they could not supply the information timely to the Complainant. However, keeping in view the gravity of the laxity/carelessness on the part of Shri S.N.Bhatia, strict action is being taken against him.

The Commission after reviewing the explanation observed that no reasonable cause for the delay in furnishing information has been provided by the Respondents. Also, the deemed PIO, Mr. S.N. Bhatia has failed to provide the information on time not once, but twice. The first time he failed to put up the RTI application to Mr. Malhotra and left it unattended to from 29.7.09 to 3.9.09 and the second time, even after having received the approval from Mr. Malhotra on 8.9.09, failed to reply to the Complainant till 18.11.09. The Commission while holding Mr. Bhatia as the deemed PIO under Section 5(5) of the RTI Act, is constrained to impose a penalty on him under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act and accordingly directs the Appellate Authority to recover an amount of Rs. 1000/- for a delay of 4 days (from 30.8.09 to 3.9.09) from the salary of Mr. Bhatia . The amount to be paid in a single installment through a Demand Draft in favour of PAO CAT . The Demand Draft should reach the Commission by 10th February 2010 and it should be addressed to Shri G.Subramanian, Under Secretary & Deputy Registrar, Central Information Commission, Club Building, Old JNU Campus, New Delhi 110 067. The complaint is accordingly disposed off.
CIC Decision No CIC/AD/C/2009/000956 dated 10.12.2009