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Thread: My office does not give me information to be given to applicant

  1. #1

    My office does not give me information to be given to applicant


    Hello,
    I am the PIO in my department, but I do not have the information with me, as my department is very big. Now the time has passed and I kept on asking the section head to give me the information, which was not given to me.

    Am I liable for the penality for the act I did not do?

    Kindly advice Kushal?



  2. Re: My office does not give me information to be given to applicant


    That is a very serious question, and I had been watching personally in the office as well as came to conclusion from the decisions made by the CIC. So I am sure you can rely on this piece of information.

    The RTI Act gives a very powerful position to the 'Public Information Officer' I mean you in your department because the PIO has a right under section 5 (4) to ask for any information from anyone in the Department in case an application is made under the RTI Act and if that information is not provided on time or there is any violation of Section 20, that is delay in providing the information or providing misleading information or tampering with information any of these clauses, then it is the person from whom the information is sought is actually liable for the penalty.

    So you must have asked the information from the section or the department that it has to give the required information within the time limit specified by the Act failing which the CIC may impose the penalty.

    On a side note, I have come across a case where the PIO was a higher authority, and he in turn penalized the sub-ordinate authority with 25000/-. However, as I mentioned only CIC has got the power to give penalty.

    And I must tell you that you can go up to Secretary of your Department or even the Minister, if the information sought concerns the office of the Minister.

    Thus this is in fact a powerful clause for you, the PIO.

  3. Re: My office does not give me information to be given to applicant


    Quote Originally Posted by madhumita View Post
    Hello,
    I am the PIO in my department, but I do not have the information with me, as my department is very big. Now the time has passed and I kept on asking the section head to give me the information, which was not given to me.

    Am I liable for the penality for the act I did not do?

    Kindly advice Kushal?
    As long as you continue to communicate with the original applicant, you have a chance to evade the penalty under Section 20 (2). Keep in touch with him on phone / email etc. and keep a record on this. Since you are not at fault you can also invite him to your office for inspection of the documents.

    Like advised by Kaushal, clearly spelling out Section 5(4) & 5(5) try to seek the assistance and help from other officers and sections in your Department. If they refuse to co-operate, send a Note/Memorandum to them clearly pointing out the urgency and also endorse the copy of this Note/Memorandum to the Original Applicant as well. Let the applicant know who is at fault.

    Further, in every communication with the original applicant, never fail to include your full contact details like Phone / FAX numbers / email ids etc. Also give the address of the Appellate Authority in the same communication along with his / her contact details.

    So in case there is gross delay, the applicant will be forced to go in for the first appeal. A communication from the AA should help the erring officers situp and take notice.

    Best wishes

    Manoj

  4. #4
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    Re: My office does not give me information to be given to applicant



    Madhumita,

    This is very serious.
    If , as a PIO, you have asked for informtion from some section of your office, the person to whom you have asked for information becomes a "deemed" PIO. Make sure that this aspect is clearly brought out in your internal communication.
    As Manoj mentioned, make sure that the applicant is kept informed through copies.
    If the person does not give you the information, and you in turn to the applicant, he will go for First Appeal and then Second Appeal.
    At those stages it will be clearly known as to who is responsible for not providing information, etc..
    There are several decisions of the CIC where officers/staff other than the PIO have been penalised under the RTI Act when it became clear that it was the other officers/staff who were not providing information...the PIO was not held responsible.

  5. Re: My office does not give me information to be given to applicant


    As rightly suggested by Manoj Pai, keeping copies of the various communications with the applicant will come to your rescue in the event of imposition of a penalty is considered by the CIC. With copies of such communications, you can always show cause as to why the penalty should not be imposed on you.

    As pointed out by karira, the responsibility gets shifted to the deemd PIO under these circumstances. It has been decided by the CIC in a recent case that :
    "In case the delay in response to the appellants is caused due to negligent attitude of any other official, a deemed PIO u/s 5(5) of the Act, the penalty would be imposed on such official. The onus to prove as to who is responsible for delay in supply of information to the appellants would be on the CPIO."

    Full details of this case are available in the following link:
    https://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_14052007_07.pdf

  6. Re: My office does not give me information to be given to applicant


    Quote Originally Posted by ganpat1956 View Post
    As rightly suggested by Manoj Pai, keeping copies of the various communications with the applicant will come to your rescue in the event of imposition of a penalty is considered by the CIC. With copies of such communications, you can always show cause as to why the penalty should not be imposed on you.
    Well Madam, since you are a senior Govt. Officer in your department, you should take pride in your role as the PIO. The whole idea on the promulgation of the RTI Act is transparency and public involvement. Keeping the applicant informed through out amounts to involving the citizen of India in the working of the Government of India.

    You can go a step further, by putting up prominent boards next to the main gate of your office at a vantage position. As a PIO you have this sole discretionary powers under Section 4. Puting up such boards ipso facto applies to implementation of Section 4 of the RTI Act.

    If possible also put up name and details on these erring officers who are not co-operating with you on another board at prominent places under the full view of the public. The citizens of India irregardless of whether they have a filed an RTI Application under Section 6 or not, have an equal right to know the names of such erring officers. You can put up these names even if they are senior to you. No action can be taken against your under any rule including CCS(CCA) Rules etc. for putting up such names in the public. Even the CVC does it.

    All you require is courage which I am sure you and RTI Crusaders from all over the country would support you.

    Best wishes

    Manoj

  7. #7
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    Re: My office does not give me information to be given to applicant


    Quote Originally Posted by mpai View Post

    If possible also put up name and details on these erring officers who are not co-operating with you on another board at prominent places under the full view of the public.
    Wow, can this be done ?

  8. Re: My office does not give me information to be given to applicant


    Well this is out of code of conduct to publish any such display and if CVC had been doing it, it is the commission prerogative and power given with the statute to do so. Further, it is not covered under RTI Act and thus beyond the scope of this RTI India Portal.

    On normal circumstances, the matter may be reported to the next higher (controlling authority) for the necessary action, also it is not the PIO to impose any penalty on erring officials, but only the CIC.

    As we had aptly stated that the limit of this portal is with the RTI hence it is but clear that we discuss the issue and suggest within the scope of RTI Act.
    Thank you for understanding.

    I am closing this thread as it has served it's purpose.



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