New Delhi: In a first-of-its-kind penalty,
the Central Information Commission has slapped a maximum fine
of Rs 25,000 each on four MCD officials for failing to provide
information despite orders of higher authorities.
The case relates to an RTI application filed by a senior
citizen J N Kapur who sought to know reasons for demolishing
Mansarovar Garden Club in West Delhi.
When no information was provided by the Central Public
Information Officer (CPIO), Kapur filed an appeal with higher
officials as per the provisions of the RTI Act.
The higher authorities directed the information should be
provided. But despite three such orders, CPIO V R Bansal did
not provide any information.
During the hearing at the CIC, Bansal claimed he had
sought information from several MCD officials but they did not
cooperate and despite repeated reminders, no information was
provided to him.
Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said public
information officers had to seek the assistance of other
officials under section 5(4) of the RTI Act to furnish replies
to information seeker.
"In such cases, if each officer has, without any
reasonable cause, failed to provide the complete information
within the prescribed time period, then he is liable to be
penalised under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act," he said while
imposing a penalty of Rs 25,000 on each of the four officials
responsible for delay in providing the information.
As per Section 20(1), if the CIC at the time of deciding
any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the CPIO,
without any reasonable cause, did not provide information
within 30 days of receiving the application, it shall impose a
penalty of Rs 250 each day till information is furnished,
however, the total amount shall not exceed Rs 25,000.
"In the instant case, no reasonable cause has been given
for the delay in providing the information to the appellant.
The Commission holds all the four officers -- K D Sharma, the
then AE (West Zone), A K Gupta, present AE(WZ), T C Meena, JE
(West Zone) and V R Bansal, PIO and SE-I (WZ) -- responsible
individually for the delay of over 100 days in providing the
information," Gandhi said while penalising the officers.