RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: PIO erred in judgement without malafide intention

The PIO of IIT Delhi could not provide complete information, but the CIC said it was without any reasonable cause or any malafide intention. This is the 60th 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, asked the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) to provide the information about appraisal reports and confidential reports of faculty members and staff.
 
While giving this important judgement on 29 September 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “The PIO’s contention that the data is voluminous and that the appellant must carry out an inspection is completely unjustified. However, the Commission does not see this as denial of information without any reasonable cause or any malafide in denial. The Commission sees this as an error of judgment by the PIO.”
 
New Delhi resident Dr R Kumar, on 17 April 2009, sought information from the PIO of IIT-D. Here is the information he sought and the reply given by the PIO on 14 May 2009...
 
1. How many staff and faculty members of IIT, Delhi, have not submitted their annual appraisal in time for the year the 2003-2004 to till 2008 in the table form?  All the details i.e. Name, Name of the Department/Centre/Unit, etc.  Arrange the required data in the table from year wise i.e. 2003 till 2008.
a. Sr. No.
b. Name of the Faculty/Staff Member
c. Name of the Dept./Centre/Unit
d. No. of Months/Days delayed
e. No. of reminder issued during the year to them
f. Present status
g. Action Taken by the competent Authorities
 
2. The copes of the reminder issued by the respective competent authorities for submission of their annual appraisal report.
 
3. The copy of the note/order sheet, etc. wherein weight age/importance of annual appraisal is issued by the director/competent authorities.
 
PIO’s reply—1,2,3
The Institute has nearly 500 employees in cadre A and over 1,000 employees in B, C, D Cadre. Information sought for the period 2003-2008 in the desired format will require disproportionate long man hours as it requires looking into nearly 1,500 employees’ files. Hence is not possible to provide the information. However, you are requested to specify few specific references so that information can be provided or else you may visit Establishment I and II units with prior appointment for inspection of record, charges for which shall be applicable as per Right to Information (RTI) Act.
 
4. What is the minimum and maximum period for a faculty/staff member to serve under the competent authority for raising the annual appraisal?
PIO’s reply—The period for a faculty/staff member to serve under the competent authority for raising the annual appraisal is three months.
 
5. A copy wherein for the objectivity and all fairness the annual appraisal report of the Staff and Faculty Members raised by the reporting officer has been to review by the superior that is the Reviewing Officer.
PIO’s reply—Copy of the appraisal report/CR form for B, C, D is enclosed.
 
On 3 June 2009, Dr Kumar submitted some clarification to the PIO. He said, “had asked only for specific cases of staff and faculty members who have not submitted their annual appraisal in time for the year 2003-2008 and not for all the staff and faculty members of the Institute. However, the PIO may initially provide the information for the year 2005-2007.”
 
In response, the PIO in a letter on 10 June 2009 stated that, “There is no separate record about staff/faculty members who have not submitted their appraisal report. Total number of staff and faculty members i.e. nearly 1,500.  To provide the information for the period 2003 to 2008 means reaching out personal files/ service books of all employees. This requires un-proportionate resource and hence unable to provide the information as per clause 7 (9) of the Act.  However, you may visit the respective section with prior appoints for inspection of records.”
 
Not satisfied with the reply, Dr Kumar filed his first appeal. He stated, “The plea of the PIO that un-proportionate resources are required and that according to Section 7(9), he is unable to provide the information is wrong. According to Section 4 (1) (a) a public authority is required to maintain the information, duly catalogued and indexed.  The Institute has appointed various APIO who can help to provide/ assimilate the information. The information should be provided in the form it has been requested for.”
 
The First Appellate Authority (FAA) in its order said that the reply given by the PIO is complete.
 
Not satisfied with the reply, Dr Kumar then approached the CIC with his second appeal. In the appeal, he stated that, “…(the) PIO should have sent the RTI Application to the Director, Deputy Directors and Registrar’s office to provide information instead of asking the appellant to visit each section separately. The IIT is giving misleading and incomplete information since they have neither followed the instruction issued by the Government of India for the Officer Procedure nor complying with the obligation of Public authority as defined in Para 4 (1) of the RTI Act, 2005.”
 
During the hearing, the PIO reiterated that it would be difficult for the Institute to give the information sought by the appellant since this information is not maintained in the particular format as sought by Dr Kumar. 
 
“...the institute (IIT-D) was unable to give information about how many people have not submitted their annual appraisal or how many people's confidential reports have not been received for the period for up to three to four years. This appears to be very disturbing for IIT Delhi to claim that it does not have a record of how many faculty numbers have not submitted appraisal forms is a very serious and sad matter,” said Mr Gandhi, the then CIC.
 
“The PIO’s contention that the data is voluminous and the appellant must carry out an inspection is completely unjustified,” he added.
 
During the hearing the PIO stated that there is an appraisal system for faculty and Group-A staff and for staff of Groups B, C and D there is a system of annual confidential reports. He also state that the records of the annual confidential reports are in a sealed room and therefore some time is required to obtain these. 
 
Mr Gandhi, said, “The Commission sees a reasonable position taken by the PIO which the Commission does not uphold. However the Commission does not sees this as denial of information without any reasonable cause or any malafide in denial. The Commission sees this as an error of judgment by the PIO.”
 
While allowing the appeal, the CIC then directed the PIO to provide the information for the faculty before 15 October 2009 and for staff before 30 October 2009.
 
 
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
 
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001925/4970
http://www.rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/SG-29092009-17.pdf
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001925
 
 
Appellant                                                : Dr R Kumar
                                                                     New Delhi-110075
 
Respondent                                            : Vivek Ramen
                                                                     Public Information Officer
                                                                     Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
                                                                     Hauz Khas, New Delhi-110016 
 

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COMMENTS

A K Dasgupta

4 years ago

Why RTI should be limited to Govt or Public sector institutions alone? Are the Private sectors above corruption or enjoy immunity? It is the CEO's and top officials of Public companies who refuse to talk to Indian Public and are more responsible for their harassment. I have found that CEO's of Bharati Axa and Ford and Grievance official of Vodafone never bothered to respond to my genuine concerns.Same is true for Private Banks , why RTI should not cover these institutions and make them answerable to Indian people otherwise let them do business elsewhere.

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