Sun. Sep 20th, 2020

Penalty of Rs 25,000 imposed upon two information officers for repeated non-compliance of orders of CIC

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Central Information Commission (CIC): In a case relating to a
dispute of ownership of 20 bighas of land in Delhi worth around Rs 100 crore,
CIC imposed a maximum penalty of Rs 25,000 on two public information officers
(PIOs) for repeated non-compliance of order of the First Appellate Authority
and directions of the CIC. The penalty was imposed on the present CPIO of SDM
office (Civil Lines), GNCTD and also the former CPIO asking their offices to
deduct the penalty from their salary and pension respectively. Said order of
CIC came upon a complaint filed for non-compliance of CIC order dated 4.9.2012
wherein the PIO was directed to furnish a reply to the complainant. The
complainant claimed that his father was joint bhoomidar with one R of around 20
bighas of land in Delhi which is worth around Rs 100 crore. He alleged that
Revenue Authorities put forward the files alleging that his father surrendered
the status of bhoomidar on June 03, 1977 in favour of R. The complainant
approached CPIO of SDM office seeking certified copy of the ‘surrender’ letter,
which was not furnished. The complainant alleged that he require the
‘surrender’ document to examine the witness before the Revenue Court, where R
is claiming to be an absolute owner. There was no response for his complaint
and he was not even informed the name and address of first appellate authority
as mandated by RTI Act. Then he filed second appeal wherein CIC directed
disclosure of information within a week, which was also not implemented. The
officials merely responded that the file was missing, and did not respect the
orders of CIC and the First Appellate Authority. The complainant filed another
complaint alleging that the CIC order given in 2012 was not implemented. In
year 2014, show cause notice was issued to the concerned CPIO. It was contended
by the CPIO that he instructed the subordinate staff to trace the missing file
but nothing was done to reconstruct the file. The explanation of PIO was not
satisfactory on the aspect of not lodging FIR or in regard to construction of
an alternative file. After hearing the parties, the Commission observed that,
“PIOs are using the ‘defence’ of ‘missing file’ repeatedly to deny the
information. Neither RTI Act nor the Public Records Act provided for this
defence of ‘missing of file’. The core function of Revenue department is to
secure and maintain the key records regarding land to ascertain the ownership
and possession issues. If such important orders or records of land revenue are
missing it will be difficult to ascertain and defend the right of ownership or
possession of the land.” CIC further observed that “If file was lost
inadvertently or for any other reason, nothing could have prevented SDM from
inquiring into immediately and taking quick decision to lodge FIR and
reconstruct the file,” and imposed penalty upon the past and present PIOs
of office of SDM Civil Lines GNCTD for adamant attitude refusing RTI
application, not responding to complaint and not complying with first and
second appeal orders. [Harish Kumar Tyagi v. Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Civil
Lines), GNCTD, 2015 SCC OnLine CIC 7163, decided on 7-9-2015]
Source: Legal news India

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