CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Appeal Nos. CIC/WB/A/2008/01353 & 1571 dated 28-7-2008 & 16-9-2008 Right to Information Act 2005 - Section 19
Appellant: Shri P.A. Sinha,
Respondent: Dep't of Personnel & Training (DOPT) Decision Announced: 29.1.'10
These are two appeals by Shri P.A. Sinha of Munger, Bihar against the information supplied to him by the DOPT.
File No. CIC/WB/A/2008/01353
In this case by an application of 9-2-2008 received in the Department on 13-3-08 Shri P.A. Sinha has sought the following information: b) "Kindly provide list of the officers involved in process & taking decision on the Demi-Official letters received in the Office of Hon'ble Minister of States (Personnel), Govt. of India including time limit prescribed for the purpose. c) Kindly arrange to provide day to day progress on the letter dated 6.11.2007 (photo copy attached) of Congress General Secretary Shri Digvijay Singh.
d) Kindly provide details as to which officer, processing this case, retained this Demi Official letter with him for which period.
e) Kindly provide details of Govt. Officers who have retained this Demi Official letter with him for more than prescribed period along with details of action proposed against them. f) Kindly provide date of receipt, date of decision and date of issue of order in respect of attached letter. In case no decision has been taken, then please provide detailed reasons for the same."
To this Shri P.A. Sinha received a point-wise reply dated 18-3-08 from Shri V. Tirkey, SO, DOPT and the then CPIO, DOPT informing him as follows: "1. First Appellate Authority is Shri V. Peddanna, Personnel & Training Department, Room No. 318, Third Floor, Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market, New Delhi and first appeal can be
preferred within thirty days of receipt of information from Central Public Information Officer.
2. Demi- Official letters received by Central Government are disposed off as early as possible. If the Demi--official letters are based on information pertaining to State Government, the same are disposed off after receipt of information from the State Government. For this purpose, no time limit has been fixed.
3. Letter of Hon'ble Shri Digvijay Singh, Congress General Secretary, dated 6.11.2007 has not been received in this Section. A photocopy of Official-Official letter is attached with your letter dated 6.11.2007. It is not possible to take any action on this photo copy.
4,5 & 6. Since letter of Hon'ble Shri Digvijay Singh, Congress General Secretary, dated 6.11.2007 has not been received in this Section, the question of keeping it pending does not arise."
Not satisfied, however, Shri Sinha moved an appeal dated 4-4-08 of which we have no copy on file and upon this he received an order dated 2-5-08 as below:
"Photo copy of D.O. letter of Hon'ble Digvijay Singh, General Secretary, All India Congress Committee addressed to Hon'ble State Minister was received as enclosure with your application addressed to this Department. In this connection, earlier also, you had been informed that no such D.O. letter has been received in this Department from Office of the Hon'ble State Minister.
CPIO has forwarded your application only to this Department, which was received by him from the Office of Hon'ble Minister of States
If you think that this matter is linked with corruption and individual point of view, then kindly present evidence before this Department. This Department allocates States to personnel, only on the recommendations of the State Advisory Committee. The question of injustice to any one does not arise. No matter of allocation of State on Choice of individual, on the recommendations of the Hon'ble Congress General Secretary is pending in this Department. Decision is made at the level of Section Officer to the Hon'ble Minister, only after receipt of recommendations from the State Government and State Advisory Committee."
Appellate Authority Shri V. Peddanna, DS, DOPT has also observed as below:
"You were directed to appear personally before Appellate Authority on 17/18th April, 2008 to present your case but you have not called upon this office in spite of lapse of time."
Appellant Shri Sinha's prayer before us in his second appeal is as below: i. "Relief should be granted from 2nd appeal filed after 15 days late. The decision of the Appellate Authority was received on 15.5.2008, due to the illness of the appellant the 2nd appeal has been filed late. The CIC may grand pardon far this.
ii. Required information may be furnished at the earliest. iii. The CIC may enquire the matter it self on the basis of documents enclosed.
iv. Action should be taken against the CPIO & the Appellate Authority concerned under Section 19 & 20 (i) & (ii) of the RTI Act, 2005.
v. The matter should be heard in the absence of the applicant since the applicant is very poor and to go Delhi will cost much, which is unbearable, for the applicant.
vi. The applicant should be informed in writing by post regarding the decision of the CIC."
The grounds pleaded for this appeal are as below: "(i) The CPIO denied the receiving of the letter in the question. (ii) The very motive of 'Responsibility' and 'accountability' is clearly denied."
File No. CIC/WB/A/2008/01571
In this case by an application of 14-3-2008 Shri P.A. Sinha has sought the following information:
B. After division of Bihar-Jharkhand, how many officers of Bihar have been allocated to Jharkhand State and how Officers of Jharkhand have been allocated to Bihar State?
C. Kindly provide list of all such officers, who have represented for reconsidering their cases for retaining them in their cadre State / domicile State. Furnishing details of reasons for considering their applications
also kindly provide results of the consideration of such applications.
D. In how many cases, the DOPT (SRS) has allocated officers on the basis of their choice instead of final allocation already decided. Kindly provide details of decision process, and procedures/rules adopted for the same.
E. In respect of which services and how many officers, allocation has been made on the choice of Bihar & Jharkhand Governments. Kindly provide names, designation of all such officers, who have been recommended by them to DOPT for reconsideration of their applications."
To this Shri P.A. Sinha received a point-wise reply dated 2-5-08 from Shri V. Tirkey, SO, DOPT and the then CPIO, DOPT informing him as follows: Point (b) How many residents in Bihar & Jharkhand are from each other's State? No such record is maintained in this Department.
Point (c) Reconsideration of final allocation of Cadre on receipt of individual applications is done on the basis of Directives issued in this respect, but no record of such applications/decisions is maintained in this Department. Point (d) On division of States, State Advisory Committee sends recommendations on final allocation to the Central Government. The final orders on this are issued by the Central Government. Interim allocation list is maintained by State Advisory Committee.
Point (e) State Government does not make any recommendations by itself. Only State Advisory Committee makes final recommendations in consultation with the State Government and recommends it to Central Government.
Point (f) Reconsideration on the basis of individual applications are made as per Directives already issued on the subject. But no record is maintained in this Department. Final decision is taken by the State Minister / Competent Authority. Point (g) As per our knowledge, more than 850 cases are pending in different Courts of Bihar & Jharkhand. These cases are registered on the basis of Home State, Seniority, discrepancy in Priority list etc. This Department does not maintain any record of personal applications. Point (h) No record is maintained by this office on the expenditure incurred on the Court cases. No funds are separately allocated for such purposes.
Point (i) No complaint regarding corruption/fraudulent measure is registered in this office regarding division of Cadre between Bihar & Jharkhand.
Point (j) Entire directives on the division of Cadre between Bihar & Jharkhand is available on the website of this Department which is www.persmin.nic.in.
Point (k) State Governments consult State Advisory Committee only on Cadre allocation. No such information is received by the Central Government. Therefore, question of maintaining such a record does not arise."
In this response, however, Shri Tirkey has referred to an application of 24- 3-08 instead of 14.3.'08, which has subsequently been clarified in the order on first appeal that the error in dating was a clerical error. In his first appeal dated 8- 7-2008 before Shri V. Peddanna, DS, DOPT appellant Shri Sinha has pleaded as follows:
"Due to the illness of applicant there was delay in filing first appeal. Seeing the problems of the appellant appeal may be heard."
Upon this Shri Sinha received the following order dated 18-7-08 from Shri V. Peddanna, DS, DOPT:
"This is to inform you that the information sought by you has been sent to you vide our registered letter dated 20.6.2008. Copy of the letter is attached for your reference. With this your appeal is hereby dismissed."
It appears, therefore, that appellant Shri Sinha had, in fact, moved an appeal on 7-6-2008 upon which he received the following order dated 20-6-08 to which reference has been made in the order of 18-7-08: "The directives regarding allotment can be obtained from our website www.persmin.nic.in. If you need these directions in writing than you are required to deposit Rs. 60/- for 30 pages @ Rs. 2/- per page which amount you can send through IPO or Bank Demand Draft. The information sought has already been given to you vide our letter dated 2.5.2008. Due to the typing mistake the date 24th March was typed instead of 14th March. Copy of letter is attached for your reference."
Appellant Shri Sinha's prayer before us in his second appeal is as below: "ii. The CIC may enquire the matter itself on the basis of documents enclosed.
iii. Action should be taken against the CPIO & the Appellate Authority concerned under Section 19 & 20 (i) & (ii) of the RTI Act, 2005.
iv. The matter should be heard in the absence of the applicant since the applicant is very poor and to go Delhi will cost much, which is unbearable, for the applicant.
v. The applicant should be informed in writing by post regarding the decision of the CIC."
In both the above cases appellant Shri P.A. Sinha has pleaded that the Commission decide the case on merits because appellant's means did not support his travelling to Delhi. Arrangements were nevertheless made for hearing the case by video-conferencing at his hometown Munger, Bihar. Notwithstanding notice having been issued to him accordingly, appellant Shri Sinha has opted not to be present. The following are present in the hearing on 29-1-2010:
Shri V. Peddanna, Dy. Secretary & Appellate Authority. Shri M. S. Sharma, Under Secretary & CPIO.
Shri V. Tirkey, Section Officer and then CPIO.
Respondent Shri V. Peddanna submitted that the grievance of appellant has arisen from the fact that although on his own request his cadre was changed to Jharkhand from Bihar, he is now seeking transfer back to Bihar and has. together with two other such officials, used every means to seek to pressurise Government into conceding to his request, which is against the rules. Shri V. Peddanna also explained that the applicant is an officer of the services and can by no means claim to be so poor as not to afford appearing in the hearing.
On the question of delay in responses by the then CPIO Shri V. Tirkey, Shri Tirkey submitted, supported by Dy. Secretary Shri V. Peddanna that he was the only person looking after the cadre allotment within the former State of Bihar now divided into Jharkhand and Bihar. He already has over 800 such applications to process and the present appellant is a persistent applicant,
besides the fact that all the information available with the Department had, in fact, been provided to him.
We find that the questions asked by Shri P.A. Sinha in both cases have been answered. His appeal before us apart from criticizing the officials of the DOPT for not being accountable or transparent has not expatiated in what manner appellant Shri Sinha finds them to be so. We cannot, therefore, find any grounds for interfering with the information provided in both cases. It is not within our mandate to examine the "justice" of allocation of Shri P.A. Sinha to one cadre or another, which is the sole responsibility of the DOPT.
Nevertheless, we find that the initial application dated 9-2-2008 and subsequent application dated 14-3-08 have both been replied to after the lapse of the period mandated for responding under sub Section (1) of Section 7. In file No. CIC/WB/A/2008/01353, however, as pointed out by CPIO Shri Tirkey in his response to the initial application of Shri P.A. Sinha, he has received the application only on 13-3-08. This is supported by a copy of a letter of 11-3-08 from CPIO Shri D.C. Sharma, SO, DOPT forwarding this application to SRS Section to whom the matter pertained. Such transfer should normally have taken place within 5 days of receipt of the application if it had been made under sub Section (1) of Section 6. If we assume that this forwarding to SRS section was under sub Section (4) of Section 5 of the RTI Act by the IR Section of the same Department. On the other hand, in the case of File No. CIC/WB/A/2008/01571 response became due by 14-4-08 and is overdue by 18 days having been sent only on 2-5-08. CPIO Shri V. Tirkey, when asked, was unable to provide any reasonable cause for this delay other than the heavy load of work. In view of the fact that appellant Shri Sinha has been described by CPIO to be a persistent applicant, CPIO could only have been expected to have a practised response to his requests. Thus, having heard CPIO Shri V. Tirkey we find him liable for a penalty of Rs. 4,500/- @ Rs. 250/- per day, which will be recovered by Secretary
Shri Shantanu Consul, DOPT from the salary of Shri V. Tirkey for the month of February, 2010 by 3.3.'10 and the same deposited with PAO, CAT, C-1, Hutments, Dalhousie Road, New Delhi under intimation to Shri Pankaj K.P. Shreyaskar, Jt. Registrar, CIC. However, because Deputy Secretary Shri V. Peddanna has stoutly defended the plea of CPIO Shri V. Tirkey in this matter it is open to the DOPT, if the public authority feels that the delay is its own responsibility, to compensate CPIO Shri V. Tirkey through payment to him of an equal amount as compensation.
Announced in the hearing. Notice of this decision be given free of cost to the parties.
Chief Information Commissioner
Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against application and payment of the charges prescribed under the Act to the CPIO of this Commission.
(Pankaj K.P. Shreyaskar)