DEATH of Section 4 ?
This is a discussion on DEATH of Section 4 ? within the RTI General Discussions forums, part of the RTI Views, Analysis & Group Discussions category; I had filed a Complaint to the CIC, under Section 18 of the RTI Act regarding non compliance of Sec 4 suo motu disclosure by New India Assurance. Please see: ...
- 07-13-2012, 09:49 PM #1
DEATH of Section 4 ?
I had filed a Complaint to the CIC, under Section 18 of the RTI Act regarding non compliance of Sec 4 suo motu disclosure by New India Assurance.
Please see: New India Asurance proactive disclosure
In a very strange reply from the Dy Secretary & Dy Registrar of the Commission, I have been informed:
"No hearing is required to be held on the complaint re Sec 4 compliance as Sec 4 pertains to suo motu "obligation" of public authorities. This is the view held by the Commission previously as well"
This is really surprising because just in the last 2 weeks, i have attended 5 separate hearings on Sec 4 disclosures and orders have been passed in all the cases.
Is this particular commissioner thinking differently ?
Or just a case or reducing pendency in the Commission ?
Can anyone throw some light ?
NOTE: Anyone can see the very poor quality of Sec 4 disclosure by this particular PA:
- 07-20-2012, 08:18 PM #2
Re: DEATH of Section 4 ?
Mr Satyananda Mishra
Chief Information Commissioner
Central Information Commission
August Kranti Bhawan
Date: 16 July 2012
RE: Refusal of IC Deepak Sandhu to hear Complaint against non disclosure
of Sec 4(1)(b) information
I had filed a Complaint against “The New India Assurance Company”, under Sec 18(1)(f) of the RTI Act 2005, which was registered vide Nr. CIC/DS/C/2011/901953 on 05 June 2011.
I have now received a letter signed by Mr T.K. Mohapatra, Dy. Secy & Dy. Registrar dated 10 July 2012, the operative part of which is as follows:
“The observations of the Hon’ble Information Commissioner are as under:
A copy of the reply dated 17 may 2012 from NIA Co. Ltd. along with enclosures can be sent to the complainant.
No hearing is required to be held on complaint relating to Sec 4 complaince as Sec 4 pertains to suo moto ‘obligation’ of public authorities. This is the view held by the Commission previously as well.”
It is indeed surprising to get such a response from the Hon’ble Information Commissioner:
1. My complaint was under Sec 18(1)(f) and the beginning part of Section 18 sates:
“Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall be the duty of the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person,—“
Clearly, the Commission was duty bound to inquire into this Complaint.
2. On the website of the Central Information Commission, there is a FAQ listed at the following web link:
FAQ Nr. 16 states:
16. Can a complaint lie with the Commission merely on the ground that the website of the public authority has not uploaded disclosures suo motu under section 4(1)(b) of the Act, in view of first part of Section 18 (1)(f)?
The Full Bench of the Commission has issued a directive dated 15.11.2010 under Section 19(8) (a) to the public authorities for time-bound implementation of Section 4 obligations under the RTI Act. Any violation of this directive will be dealt with by the Commission under Section 18(1)(b) of the Act.
The Hon’ble Information Commissioner has not followed the above mentioned advise given by the Commission to complainants.
3. The Central Information Commission has the responsibility of administering the RTI Act 2005 for public authorities under the central government.
Section 4 is the corner stone of the RTI Act 2005. Time and again, on innumerable occasions, past and present Chief Information Commissioners have stressed the need for public authorities to implement Section 4 – both in letter and in spirit.
If a public authority does not implement Section 4, what is a citizen supposed to do ? The only choice left is to Complain to the Commission. If, in turn, the Commission decides to return such Complaints without conducting an inquiry or even a hearing, then it only shows that the Commission is abdicating its own responsibilities, vested in it under the RTI Act.
4. I wish to draw your attention to:
Appeal Nos. CIC/WB/A/2009/000545 dated 5.5.2009
& CIC/WB/A/2010/000303 dated 7.7.2010
Heard on 22.7.2010 and decision announced on 30.7.2010
The operative part of the above decision is reproduced below:
However, what emerges from the appeals is an apparent hiatus in the law with regard to enforcement of compliance with sec. 4 which is a vital element of the law to achieve the objective of the law described in its preamble “to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority”. While, therefore, both appeals are dismissed, this Commission places on record its appreciations of the efforts of appellant Shri Vihar Durve in agitating a point which deserves attention both by the Information Commission and the Government. The clarification of this issue will, therefore, be pursued by the Central Information Commission with the DOPT with reference to the Report of Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee of on Personnel, Public Grievances Law & Justice to avoid any ambiguity in imposition or enforcement of this clause thereby hopefully leading to closer adherence with the letter and spirit of the law.
As someone who closely follows all decisions of the Central Information Commission, I am not aware of any information in the public domain as to what steps did the Commission finally take to “pursue” this matter with DoPT.
In absence of a clear cut stand by the Commisison, the only option before me was to file the said Complaint.
Even a cursory look at the website of The New India Assurance Company Ltd. will show that the Sec 4(1)(b) disclosure can best be described as a “poor apology” for this important provision of the Act.
As someone who has worked tirelessly for the last 5 years in making several public authorities Section 4 compliant and also audited Section 4 compliance of public authorities, the suo moto disclosures made by The New India Assurance Company can only get a poor C- grade.
Sir, I urge the Commission not to set such a low bar for the quality and substance of Section 4 compliance.
It will not be out of place to mention that several Complaints filed by me on Section 4 non-compliance have been heard by different Commissioners, including yourself and appropriate orders passed with firm directions.
I request you to kindly take up this matter and direct the concerned Hon’ble Information Commissioner to conduct a proper hearing for this Complaint under reference.
(C J Karira)