The CIC recommended to the Police Commissioner of Patna to take cognizance and ensure that no harm comes to the complainant who was receiving threatening phone calls for filing RTI application. This is 154th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an appeal, directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) in the Revenues Department at Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to file a police complaint about a file that was not traceable.
While giving this judgement on 2 August 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “The CIC hopes that the Police Commissioner will take appropriate measures and ensure the safety of the Complainant. The CIC also recommends that EPFO must monitor this data (about matters like CBI Cases in various regional offices) in the whole country and use it to correct (the) wrong doing wherever there are number of cases reported.”
Patna resident Bhagirath Kumar, on 19 October 2010, sought from the PIO information about action taken on vigilance complaints against 81 Group-A officers in the Vigilance Directorate under Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO). Here is the information he sought under the RTI Act...
1) Total 81 complaints were received against the Group-A officers from 2005-to-2008 as per Vigilance Directorate
a) How many of those complaints have been closed?
b) Provide copies of enquiry report and notings vide which cases referred in (a) has been closed.
c) For how many cases first stage advice was taken from CVC to initiate departmental proceedings?
d) In how many cases charge sheet has been issued so far for cases referred in (c)
e) How many departmental proceedings have been finalized so far for cases referred in (d)?
f) Provide copies of inquiry report and notings of concerned vide which inquiry report was placed before disciplinary authority for cases referred in (e) the notings and final order should also be provided.
2) How many complaints against Group-A officers have been received in the Head Office in year 2008-09 & 2009-10? In how many cases action like transfer etc. has been taken to provide names and numbers of officers and the action taken.
3) How many disciplinary cases are pending against Group-A officers at present?
4) List out the reasons for the delay w.r.t cases referred at 3(a)
5) How many cases are being investigated by CBI in respect of EPFO officials at present? How many are being investigated for more than a year?
Instead of providing information, the PIO asked Kumar, the applicant to confirm whether he had sent the said communication and also confirm that it bears his genuine signature. The PIO also asked Kumar to send in his reply within 10 days of its receipt otherwise it (the RTI application) will be treated as pseudonymous.
Not satisfied with the PIO's contention, the applicant approached the CIC with his complaint. In the complaint, Kumar stated...
1. I had asked for certain information from CPIO, EPFO, RO, Kolkata on 19 October 2010 when information was not given. I preferred First appeal with Appellate Authority, EPFO, Kolkata.
2. On 21 December 2010, two persons who introduced themselves as EPFO Inspector, Vigilance from Patna arrived at my residence and asked for my identity. When I asked the reason they told me that they had been sent by PC Pati, EPFO commissioner, Patna.
3. They called EPFO Patna over their phone and asked me to talk to Mr Pati. Mr Pati asked me not to ask for information under RTI Act and threatened me to not to continue with it. When I refused to act as per his order he became furious. Thereafter, I am receiving threatening calls form 0612-2227139, EPFO, Patna office.
4. The said officials, who introduced himself as Ajay Kumar, handed me a letter which is enclosed herewith.
5. In the said letter Sharad Singh, CPIO/RPFC I (vig) EPFO HO New Delhi has asked for verification before supplying the information. It appears that they are causing hindrance in free flow of information.
During the hearing before Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, the PIO claimed that the information was sent on 7 January 2011. However, the appellant stated that he had not received any such communication.
The Bench also noticed that for most of the queries, no information was provided and the PIO had stated that the complainant (Kumar) may visit and inspect the required files. "The Bench finds it very surprising that for vigilance complaints against Group-A officers, the Vigilance Department is not keeping any information in any reasonable manner," Mr Gandhi noted.
"As per the PIO's admission in the 7 January 2011 communication there were 81 complaints for which information had to be provided in query-1 and 225 matters in which complaints against Group-A officers were received from central vigilance commission (CVC) and others. In query-5 the PIO has stated that the Vigilance Department has no idea about how many cases are being investigated by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The Head Quarter, Vigilance of any organization must proactively know about matters like CBI cases in various regional offices. This is the only way in which it would be possible to proactively correct situations where they may be problems," the Bench said.
Taking cognizance of threats reported by Kumar, the Bench recommended to the Police Commissioner of Patna to take cognizance of the complainant's complaint about receiving threats and ensure that no harm comes to the complainant. "The Commission hopes that the Police commission will take appropriate measures and ensure the safety of the Complainant," Mr Gandhi said.
While allowing the complaint, the CIC directed the PIO to collect the information and provide it to Kumar before 25 August 2011. The Commission also recommended that EPFO must monitor this data in the whole country and use it to correct wrong doing wherever there are number of cases reported.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2011/000017/13790
Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2011/000017
Complainant : Bhagirath Kumar,
Respondent : Uma Mandal
PIO & RPFC-I
Vigilance Directorate (headquarters)
Employees' Provident Fund Organization
Ministry of labour, Govt. of India
Head office,14, Bhikaiji Cama Place,