RTI Judgement Series: PIO asked to pay Rs3,000 as compensation for harassment faced by a senior citizen
A senior citizen was made to run from pillar to post for refusing to pay a bribe of Rs20 for obtaining his service book. The CIC directed the PIO to pay a compensation for the harassment faced by the appellant. This is the 89th 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 from a senior citizen, directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the engineering department at Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to furnish information and pay Rs3,000 as compensation to the appellant for the loss and detriment suffered by him.
While giving this judgement on 20 April 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “It is a very sad comment that an organization makes a senior citizen run around like a beggar to get his dues and nobody has the sensitivity to ensure that his legitimate requirements are met. In view of the clear harassment faced by the appellant, the PIO is also directed to ensure that a cheque of Rs3,000 as compensation is sent to the appellant before 15 June 2011.”
New Delhi resident OP Singhal, on 2 July 2010, sought certain information regarding preparation of a duplicate service book from the PIO of engineering department at MCD under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Here is the information he sought.
(i) Re-construction of duplicate service book.
(ii) Payment of arrears.
The PIO in his reply stated that “It is informed that the reply of your RTI application has already been given to you vide letter no. HC/ RTI/ Engg./ HQ/ 2010/ 497 dated 19 July 2010”.
Not satisfied with the reply, Singhal then filed his first appeal. In his order, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) said, “During the hearing the matter was discussed and the applicant insisted for the quick preparation of duplicate service book. Accordingly, PIO/ ADC (Engg) is directed to pursue the case and give proper reply to point no. 4 as the applicant was satisfied with the rest of the points."
Singhal, again not satisfied with the reply, approached the CIC with his second appeal.
During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted that the appellant (Singhal) was a 75-year old and seeking information about when his duplicate service book would be made. The PIO admitted before the Commission, that Singhal’s service book was claimed to have been lost by the Pension Cell of MCD.
Singhal stated that he visited the pension cell of MCD requesting it to send his file to Kasturba Hospital for payment of arrears in May 2003. He also claimed that one Naresh Kumar, record keeper at the pension cell, asked him to pay Rs20 as bribe, which he refused. Singhal also alleged that after his refusal to pay bribe, his service book was “claimed to have been lost” by the pension cell.
In 2007, Singhal filed a complaint with the Commissioner of MCD and has been running from pillar to post to get his service book located. He finally applied on 2 July 2010 to get his duplicate service book made and through RTI asked about the progress of getting the service book made.
After hearing the plight of the senior citizen, Mr Gandhi said, “It is a very sad comment that an organization makes a senior citizen run around like a beggar to get his dues and nobody has the sensitivity to ensure that his legitimate requirements are met. The current employees do not seem to realize that they could be placed with the same prospects at some future date.”
To this, the PIO stated that the pension cell was not cooperating and was not providing information.
Mr Gandhi, then directed the PIO to obtain the information from the pension cell and provide it to Singhal before 10 May 2011. The Commission using power under Section 19(8)(b) of the RTI Act, also asked the PIO pay Rs3,000 to Singhal for the loss and detriment suffered by him since he has not obtained the information so far.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2011/000292/12068
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2011/000292
Appellant : OP Singhal
New Delhi- 110064
Respondent : SS Rana
Public Information Officer & ADC (Engineering)
Municipal Corporation of Delhi
O/o Addl. Dy. Commissioner,
Engineering Dept (HQ),
9th Floor, Dr. SPM Civic Centre,
Minto Road, New Delhi