Why no date on order, clause applied on audit: CIC to GPCB
Audit is public document, can’t apply clause, which allows withholding information from external agencies, says Das
Mahesh Langa
Ahmedabad, January 30: In connection with denial of information regarding pollution in industrial estates of Ankleshwar, Panoli and Jhagadia, Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of the State R N Das summoned appellant authority of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) to explain why information sought by one applicant pertaining to Ankleshwar Effluent Treatment Plant was not provided. <O:p
Member Secretary of GPCB, an appellant authority, was directed to remain present before the commission on February 1 when the matter would be taken up for further hearing.
<O:pAccording to the case details, Mahesh Pandya of Paryavaran Mitra had sought Environmental Audit Report of Ankleshwar Effluent Treatment Plant under RTI from GPCB in August 2006. Pandya had also sought information pertaining to industrial pollution in industrial estates of Ankleshwar, Panoli and Jhagadia.
However, GPCB Public Information Officer (PIO) had provided information about the industrial estates but copy of the audit report was denied. The officer, instead of giving copy of the audit report, wrote a letter to the agency, Enviro Technology Ltd, which owns and operates the Ankleshwar plant. The letter was written under Section 11(1) of RTI Act, which pertains to third party information. <O:p
The letter written by A A Dolti, environmental engineer GPCB, mentioned that an applicant asked for the copy of agency’s audit reports of last two years submitted to GPCB, “in which your interest is involved.” <O:p
The GPCB had asked the agency’s view on whether it should disclose the information or not as sought by the applicant under RTI. <O:p
In reply to the GPCB, Enviro Technology Ltd advised not to share information sought by the applicant. “We would like to bring to your kind attention that considering our business interests and technology involved, we request you to apply Clause 8-D of Right to Information Act and not to share the reports to any external agencies,” it had said in the reply. <O:p
Following the advise by the agency, GPCB refused to part with the information saying business interest of third party is involved. <O:p
However, on being denied information by the Public Information Officer, the applicant referred the matter to the appellant authority, member secretary of GPCB. <O:p
Having conducted a hearing of concerned parties, the appellant authority ordered to supply the information sought by the applicant. <O:p
However, in his order Sanjeev Tyagi, member secretary of GPCB, ‘didn’t mention’ the date by which the information was to be supplied to the applicant. According to GPCB officials, date is always mentioned in all the orders issued by the appellant authority. <O:p
Meanwhile, despite not getting information as ordered by the appellant authority, the applicant referred the matter to the Chief Information Commissioner. The applicant contended that why date was not mentioned in the order issued by the appellant authority. He also contended that the information was still not provided to him. <O:p
However, GPCB officer present before the commission contended that the concerned agency, Enviro Technology Ltd, had gone for an appeal before the CIC against the appellant authority order. <O:p
However, the CIC ruled that the appeal was not taken up for hearing and he would not do so either. <O:p
That apart, he asked the Public Information Officer to immediately provide the information to the applicant and summoned the appellant authority to remain present and explain why the information was denied in the first place and why the agency was consulted under Section 11(1) when the audit report is a public document.
News Item in Indian Express, Ahmedabad<O:p</O:p