Citizens' Issues
CIC fines Indian Overseas Bank PIO for not providing information

AK Mohanty, chief manager and deemed PIO of Indian Overseas Bank was fined Rs12,000 for delay in providing information to a RTI user while AP Singh, general manager, Board Services Department has been served a show-cause notice by the CIC for similar reasons

The banking sector has been consistent in stonewalling Right to Information (RTI) activists from getting information. But a recent Central Information Commission (CIC) ruling gives hopes to the activists, by pulling up a bank for not providing information about non-performing assets, penalising the public information officer and issuing a show-cause notice to another top official for non-compliance with CIC orders and delaying disclosure.

Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has imposed a penalty of Rs12,000 on AK Mohanty, chief manager and deemed PIO of Indian Overseas Bank for not providing information to RTI user Kishanlal Mittal until 48 days after the CIC directed him to do so. For the same reason, AP Singh, general manager, Board Services Department has been served a show-cause notice to appear before the CIC on 16th February and answer why penalty under Section 20(1) should not be levied on him.

“The Commission notes that AK Mohanty, CM & deemed PIO was responsible for not sending the information to the appellant before 10 October 2011, as per the order of the Commission. He sent the information to the appellant only on 29 November 2011. Since the delay in providing the information has been of 48 days, the Commission is passing an order penalizing AK Mohanty Rs12,000 (Rs250 per day),” said the CIC ruling.

In September 2010, Mr Mittal filed an RTI application seeking information on loans forwarded to educational institutes above Rs25 crore. He also wanted to know how many of these loans have been classified as NPAs (non-performing assets) and how many have been written off, and demanded file notings on the decision taken in this matter.

The PIO, Mr Mohanty refused disclosure claiming that the information is voluminous, uncentralised and will tax the resources of the bank; and that the information is exempt from disclosure because it violates the fiduciary relationship, the bank has with its clients.
Not satisfied with the response, Mr Mittal went for an appeal before the CIC on 16 September 2011. While the commission upheld the exemption under the ‘fiduciary relationship’ clause, it ordered the PIO to provide the details of the NPAs sought by the RTI user. However, the information did not reach the appellant, and on November, he complained to the CIC about the delay.

A show-cause notice was served to the PIO for appearing before the CIC on 13th January. During the hearing, it was revealed that Mr Mohanty had obtained the information from the department concerned on 22nd September itself. “Mr. Mohanty states he did not send the information since he was waiting to receive the information on a query from the Board Services Department. This is no reasonable cause and the deemed PIO Mr Mohanty should have sent the information on the other two queried to the appellant before 10 November 2011 as per the order of the Commission,” Mr Gandhi said in his ruling.

The CIC thus served a show-cause notice to AP Singh, general manager of Board Services Department, whom Mr Mohanty alleges of not providing the required information. “The Commission is duty-bound to levy a penalty at the rate of Rs250 each day till the information is furnished. Once the Commission decides that there was no reasonable cause for delay, it has to impose the penalty and the law gives no discretion in the matter. The burden of proving that denial of information by the PIO was justified and reasonable is clearly on the PIO,” said Mr Gandhi.

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COMMENTS

Vandana Tiwari

5 years ago

What about my appeal sent to CIC under the cover of speed-post mail no.EC487513378IN dated 26.03.21012 against PIO and appellate Authority of Institute of Advanced Studies in Education (IASE), Sardarsahar, Churu, Rajasthan

P M Ravindran

5 years ago

I have gone through the order. Though I consider Shailesh Gandhi as the best IC in the CIC I find that this order is not exactly correct. The penalty is to be levied for the period of delay and it reckons from 30 days of submitting the application and NOT the IC's order!

Vijay Trimbak Gokhale

5 years ago

“The Commission is duty-bound to levy a penalty at the rate of Rs250 each day till the information is furnished. Once the Commission decides that there was no reasonable cause for delay, it has to impose the penalty and the law gives no discretion in the matter." These are exact words with which I have been pleading for penalty in my matters before CIC but it was never paid heed to. Better late than never. Let us hope that CIC starts imposing penalty in all cases where violation is established. As a matter of fact CIC's action of not penalising errant PIOs was contempt of court as there have been HC and SC judgements stating that once violation is established penalty has to follow. There is no need for "men's rea" as these are civil violations. As a matter of fact once CIC comes to the conclusion that information has to be provided then it establishes violation of RTI act by PIO and the violation dates back to the day on which information was refused and the penalty has to begin from that day.

Godrej Properties Q3 net profit rises to Rs28.8 crore

During the December 2011 quarter, Godrej Properties has diluted 49% equity stake in Godrej Premium Builders Pvt Ltd to SUN-Apollo India Real Estate Fund, LLC

Godrej Properties said that its net profit rose to Rs28.61 crore for the December 2011 quarter, compared to Rs15.51 crore for the corresponding period last year backed by a rise in total income to Rs149.74 crore from Rs48.17 crore.

During the December 2011 quarter, the company has diluted 49% equity stake in Godrej Premium Builders Pvt Ltd to SUN-Apollo India Real Estate Fund, LLC for Rs4,500 lakh, out of which Rs1,830 lakh has been paid to Godrej Properties Ltd towards stake sale and Rs2,670 lakh has been invested in Godrej

Premium Builders Pvt Ltd. Other income includes an amount of Rs1,827.55 lakh on account of profit on sale of stake.

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HDFC Bank Q3 net profit rises to Rs1,429.66 crore

Gross NPAs declined at 1.03% in the December 2011 quarter versus 1.11% in a year ago period

Private sector lender, HDFC Bank said that its net profit rose to Rs1,429.66 crore for the December 2011 quarter, compared to Rs1,199.35 crore for the corresponding period last year backed by a rise in total income to Rs8,622.64 crore from Rs7,929.38 crore.

Gross non-performing assets (NPAs) declined at 1.03% in the quarter ended December FY12 versus 1.11% in a year ago period. Gross NPAs stood at Rs2,020 crore against Rs1,895 crore quarter-on-quarter.

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