RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: Complainant threatened for filing RTI application

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.




Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2011/000017/13790


Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2011/000017


Complainant                                       : Bhagirath Kumar,

                                                                   Patna- 800003.


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,
                                                         New Delhi-110066.





Gas price, production and supplies in a gaseous state?
Our government overcomes difficult situations by appointing various committees and tides over the public's angry reactions, thus delaying issues. The situation on gas pricing is no better. We look at what is happening…
There are too many things happening in the gas front.  If the "aam aadmi" is confused about what he hears or reads in public, one cannot blame him.
Whether it is the petroleum minister Veerappa Moily or the Director General of Hydro Carbons (DGHC), their claim that the current price of $4.2 per million metric British thermal units (mmBtu) is uneconomical and unattractive for the oil explorer rings out loud and clear. Their voice is in unison and says that the newly proposed price of $8.4 is commercially viable and still gives the explorer ‘only’ about 15% profit makes it worthwhile to continue the work!
This may be so because of other business deals that have taken place in recent times. The imported gas costs $18 per mmBtu and by the time it reaches the consumer, it is way beyond $20.  The de facto devaluation of the rupee only adds to the misery.
If this price is workable for the industry, what is the big deal about paying $8.4? And, after all, we are paying this in Indian rupees, and not in foreign exchange?
Even GAIL, having 12.5% stake in the Petronet LNG has pending agreements to import gas at $14.5 per mmBtu, making it the most expensive liquefied natural gas (LNG). Spot market price for gas fluctuates between $15 and $16 per mmBtu. And, if Indian gas price move to $8.4 from April 2014 onwards, why not try and renegotiate the price from Gorgon in Australia? 
It is not clear if additional quantities will start gushing out of Reliance and other gas fields in the Kavery Basin, all because of the increased price effective from April 2014.
In any case, issues relating to non-supply of old, pending contracts have not been settled with Reliance and the company will have no say in gas allocation done by the government. The rupee exchange rate is also hanging in the air!
On top of the projected increase in production, there is no guarantee that supplies will be directed to power generators or fertilizer units, and if so, in what proportion.  Newcomers will have to wait for much longer before they get any allocation.  In the current scenario, the rupee is expected to fall farther.
The fact remains, despite the precarious and dwindling supply of gas from Reliance and various departments and ministries involved in expedious handling of clearances are moving at snail's pace.
Although the Ministry of Petroleum is aware that only on drilling exploratory wells one can find gas or oil and more often than not, it is a combination of both. In Hardy Oil's case of discovery of ‘gas’ off Puducherry coast, the Ministry had taken the issue to the Court on technical grounds that the explorer failed to notify the actual discovery of ‘oil’, instead of ‘gas’.
Regrettable for the Ministry, the Court ruled in favour of Hardy Oil confirming ‘gas’ discovery!  Well, that was in 2007 when gas was discovered, and six years down the drain, the work is ‘progressing’.  What more can you ask?
Similarly, in the case of Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Ltd (GSPC), which we had covered earlier, environmental clearance to lay an 11kms pipe line onshore is still stuck in the mud!  Our own efforts to get to the bottom of the issue, by getting in touch with Sandeep Dave, the Company Secretary, got us nowhere, in spite of reminders.  
At the end of the day, the aam aadmi is frustrated.  All that we can read is about the meetings of empowered group of ministers (EGoM), inter-ministerial group (IMG) and other groups and committees taking place, but the real situation is that enough progress has not made. In fact, the public is not even aware what transpired in these meetings, and why Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) and state governments concerned are not moving at a faster pace to get the job done?  It is time the government takes pains to answer these issues and sets a timeframe to achieve the goals set.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)


Supreme Court rejects Lalu Prasad’s plea in fodder scam
In a big blow to RJD chief Lalu Prasad, the apex court rejected his plea to transfer the judge hearing the fodder scam and also directed the trial court pronounce the verdict at the earliest
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected plea of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav for transfer of the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge hearing the fodder scam case against him in Jharkhand. The apex court also asked the trial court to pronounce the verdict as soon as possible.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam dismissed the allegations of RJD chief that the trial judge, being a relative of a minister in the Nitish Kumar Government, is biased against him and questioned Lalu Prasad’s move to raise the issue at the fag-end of the trial.
The apex court also set a timeframe for concluding the proceedings granting five days’ time to CBI and 15 days to accused persons to wrap up their final arguments in the case.
The Bench, also comprising justices Ranjana Desai and Ranjan Gogoi, said that it was not inclined to entertain the allegations levelled against the judge and vacated its stay on the trial court proceedings
The Bench had earlier virtually agreed to transfer the judge and had asked the CBI and Lalu’s counsel to name an alternate judge to hear the case.
The apex court had on 23rd July said it would pass order either directing the High Court to appoint a new judge or would itself do so if there is consensus among the parties on name of the judge who is to hear the case.
It had also asked the parties to evolve a consensus on the name of the judge by 6th August.
However, on the next date of hearing, the bench refrained from passing any order in view of stiff opposition from JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan who had submitted that it would be a “travesty of justice” if the judge is transferred at the fag end of the trial. 



Vaibhav Dhoka

4 years ago

Supreme court justices have rightly said that most of its time is taken by mighty and wealthy people and hardly they spare time for common man.It is travesty of JUSTICE.All tricks are played to derail Justice system.A shameful act by handful people.

Vaibhav Dhoka

4 years ago

Supreme court justices have rightly said that most of its time is taken by mighty and wealthy people and hardly they spare time for common man.It is travesty of JUSTICE.All tricks are played to derail Justice system.A shameful act by handful people.

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