CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Club Building (Near Post Office)
Old JNU Campus, New Delhi - 110067
Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2010/000142/7895Penalty
Appeal No. CIC/SG/C/2010/000142
Relevant Facts emerging from the Complaint:
Complainant : Mr. Rajendra Gupta 704, G. T. Road, Shahdara,
Delhi - 110032.
Respondent : Mr. Arun Kumar Public Information Officer &
Suptdg. Engineer -I
Municipal Corporation of Delhi
Shah. South Zone, Near Karkarduma Court, Shahdara,
RTI application filed on : 30/12/2009
PIO replied : 15/01/2010
First Appeal filed on : Not filed
Second Appeal received on : 09/02/2010
The Complainant had sought following information regarding below mentioned properties:
RTI ID No. Properties No.
1136 Adjacent to property no. 825 and in the corner of Gururam Das Nagar Extn., Laxami Nagar, Delhi.
1134 788/89, Gururam Das Nagar Extn., Laxami Nagar, Delhi. 1135 764/65, Gururam Das Nagar Extn., Laxami Nagar, Delhi. 935 4/145, Lalita Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi.
934 5/186, Lalita Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi.
1) Whether the building deptt. of MCD, Shah North Zone had approved map for any construction at the above mentioned properties. Whether any kind of approval was granted for above mentioned properties. Whether the construction was in the knowledge of Dy. Commissioner. 2) Details of amount with details of cheque/draft if any, paid for the approval of map. Whether the map is for residential purpose or a commercial.
3) Details of action taken by the MCD if no approval has been given by them in respect of construction at the above mentioned properties.
4) Whether the above mentioned buildings had been booked for the demolition. If yes then reason for not demolishing it till now.
Page 1 of 5
5) Reason for sealing the above mentioned properties if there was any problem in demolishing the same. If not then the reason for the same. If yes then the details of time limit prescribed for demolishing the illegal structure.
6) Whether the structure was being built according to the map if any, approved by MCD. If not then details of action taken by the MCD.
7) Name and contact no. of the engineer who had been given the responsibility to inspect the structure during or after the construction.
8) Name and contact no. of the officer to whom the engineer reported about the construction along with his current designation and the place where he is currently posted. 9) Area of the above mentioned properties.
10) Details of previous structure at the above mentioned properties before filing the complaint by the Complainant.
11) Details of approved coverage area of the above mentioned properties. 12) Details of floors, rooms and kitchens approved for the construction at the above mentioned properties.
13) Whether the structure was being built at the part of the property. 14) Details of complaints received in regard to illegal construction at the above mentioned properties with date on which it was received. Name of the Complainant, if it could be given, with details of action taken on those complaints.
15) Name and contact no. of the officers of building department related to the illegal constructions at the above mentioned properties.
16) Whether the people residing in the vicinity of the above mentioned properties was kept in mind while approving the map.
17) Whether the MCD had approved the map according to the rules and standards of master plan. Whether the map was approved after verifying the chain of the registry. 18) Request to conduct a joint inspection.
Reply of the PIO:
Information did not come under the purview of RTI Act, 2005. However in respect to ID No 934, and 935, the PIO replied that the no map was approved for those property as mention in said IDs hence no such information was either available in the departments records or no such illegal. Moreover in respect of query no. 15 of the said IDs the PIO replied that Mr. Manoj Shah was the Junior Engineer and he had not been given any mobile and the Mr. J. P. Singh(AE) had the mobile no. 9717786095.
Information was denied on ID nos. 1134, 1135 & 1136 on the ground that the Complainant was an Editor of a News Paper and had stated that he would use the information for publication in his news paper. Thus the PIO stated this was commercial use of information.
Ground of the Complaint:
Incomplete information received from the PIO.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing on 28 May 2010:
"The following were present:
Complainant: Mr. Rajender Gupta;
Respondent : Mr. Arun Kumar, Public Information Officer & Suptdg. Engineer -I; The Complainant has sought information about alleged illegal construction being carried out. The PIO stated in case of ID no. 934 & 935 that there was no building plan that has been approved for these. The Complainant states that illegal construction is going on at these two properties and MCD officers are not recording this in their registers. He would like to inspect the said site with the PIO. The Page 2 of 5
Commission orders that a joint inspection of the two sites be carried out by the Complainant and the PIO's representative Mr. Ashok Singh, AE on 28 May 2010 at 01.00PM. They will meet at the site at the pointed time and date. A joint report will be made after inspection the site and photographs will be taken.
For id nos. 1136, 1134, 1135 the PIO has refused to give the information on the ground that the Complainant had declared that he would use the information for publication in his newspaper. The PIO has stated that, "all these RTI's are on letter head of a News Agency signed by Chief Editor. Sector-3 of RTI Act confers the Right to Information on all citizens whereas the information has been sought by a person with designation as Chief Editor and with a specific reference of purpose for publishing in his news paper. In my considered opinion as PIO, this institution of RTI application is being used by virtue of such application as reporter/correspondent of the news paper, which is not at all admissible in the true sprit of RTI Act." The PIO's refusal to give the information is without any basis in law there are number of times that Commission has ruled that mere act of using a letter head does not mean that a citizens is not using the Right to Information. The RTI Act does not require the citizens to give any reasons for seeking the information. If a citizen has in the spirit of transparency declared that he will publish the information in a news paper this cannot be considered a ground for denial. Infact the Commission would appreciate the act of transparency displayed by a citizen though there is no legal requirement for him to do so."
Commission's Decision dated 28 May 2010:
"The Appeal is allowed.
The PIO is directed to provide the complete information on ID numbers: 1134, 1135, 1136 to the Complainant before 10 June 2010.
Mr. Ashok Singh, AE is directed to go for inspection with the Complainant at 1.00PM.
The issue before the Commission is of not supplying the complete, required information by the PIO within 30 days as required by the law.
From the facts before the Commission it is apparent that the PIO is 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 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. Arun Kumar, PIO will present himself before the Commission at the above address on 22 June 2010 at 10.30am 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."
Page 3 of 5
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing on 22 June 2010:
The following were present:
Respondent : Mr. Arun Kumar, Public Information Officer & Suptdg. Engineer -I; The Respondent was asked to justify the basis of refusing to give the information. The PIO had stated, "all these RTI's are on letter head of a News Agency signed by Chief Editor. Sector-3 of RTI Act confers the Right to Information on all citizens whereas the information has been sought by a person with designation as Chief Editor and with a specific reference of purpose for publishing in his news paper. In my considered opinion as PIO, this institution of RTI application is being used by virtue of such application as reporter/correspondent of the news paper, which is not at all admissible in the true sprit of RTI Act."
The Respondent has given a written submission in which he has stated, "I do agree that merely submitting RTI application on a letter head with designation as Chief Editor alone cannot be sole reason for refusal of information. I also agree that to mention purpose in isolation cannot be sole reason for denial of information. But all the three, i.e. letter head, designation and purpose, when come together the status of applicant changes and becomes violative of provisions of RTI Act. No person can say that what is to be published in what paper. It is the sole prerogative of Chief Editor of a News Paper, who so ever be the person, and when Chief Editor says for publication, to becomes report or information received through its reporter/correspondent of news paper for commercial purpose of news agency. Thus, undersigned would like to request to review the order passed by eh Hon'ble Commission and to uphold the stand taken by answering PIO. However, under the orders of the Commission information has been supplied in all the three cases within stipulated period."
The respondent was asked if he has any other reasons to give for denying the information. He states that he has already given his reasons for denial of information which he believes were legitimate. The Right to Information is a fundamental right of citizens and the law has been in force for over four years. The law has very clearly stated in Section 6(2), "An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him". Thus the Act has clearly stated that the reasons for requesting information or the personal details of the Complainant are not to be considered when a request of the information has been provided. Section-3 of the RTI Act has very succinctly stated "Subject to the provisions of this act, all citizens shall have the Right to Information." The only information which can be exempted from disclosure is that which is defined in Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. The PIO has not stated that the information was exempt under Section 8(1) of the RTI Act but has sought to deny the information on the ground that the Complainant is an editor of a news paper who has stated upfront that he intends to use the information for publication. All information with the Public Authorities belongs to the Citizens of India and if somebody intends to publicize the information obtained, it has to be encouraged since the Complainant is likely to ensure that many more citizens would be informed. Refusing information on this ground has no basis in law. If the PIO refuses to give information to applicants without any basis in the law it can only be assumed to be an arbitrary exercise which is dictated by the desire to refuse giving information without any basis in law. It is also important to understand that in the instant case the Complainant was seeking information about certain constructions which might be illegal.
Since the PIO has refused information without any reasonable basis in the law the Commission finds this as a fit case for levy of penalty under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act on Mr. Arun Kumar, PIO & SE- I. The RTI Application was filed on 30/12/2009 and information was refused on 15/01/2010. The Respondent states that after the order of the Information Commission the information has been provided to the Complainant on 08/06/2010. Thus the delay in providing the information has been over Page 4 of 5
100 days. The Commission therefore imposes the maximum penalty under Section 20(1) of Rs.25000/- on Mr. Arun Kumar, PIO & SE-I(Shahdara South Zone) for refusing to given the information without any reasonable cause.
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. Arun Kumar, PIO & SE-I. Since the delay in providing the correct information has been over 100 days, the Commission is passing an order penalizing Mr. Arun Kumar Rs. 25000/ which is the maximum penalty under the Act.
The Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Delhi is directed to recover the amount of Rs.25000/- from the salary of Mr. Arun Kumar 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 Rs.5000/ per month every month from the salary of Mr. Arun Kumar and remitted by the 10th of every month starting from August 2010. The total amount of Rs.25000 /- will be remitted by 10th of December, 2010.
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.
22 June 2010
(In any correspondence on this decision, mention the complete decision number.)(GJ)
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
Page 5 of 5