The CIC upheld the PIO's claim for exemption since the ESIC department was investigating the total liability of the appellant's unit. This is the 71st 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 disposing an appeal upheld the denial of the information by the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Employees Provident Fund Organization’s (ESIC) sub-regional office at Rohtak, under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act.
While giving this important judgement on 3 January 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “... it appears that the PIO's contention that disclosing the records may lead to altering/modification of certain records which would impede the process of investigation.”
Hisar (Haryana) resident Anita Gupta, on 12 August 2010, sought information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the PIO of the ESIC’s sub-regional office at Rohtak. She sought information regarding records about a raid on her firm for applicability of provident fund. Here is the information she sought...
1. Complete copy of 7(a) proceeding in respect of M/S Ridhhi Sidhhi Industries, in which the 7(a) order dated 10 June 2010 has been passed by HC Malhotra, APFC, including the complete squad’s report dated 24 June 2009.
2. Order sheets of proceedings held on dates as mentioned in the RTI application.
3. Notices of proceedings, if any, sent to employer.
4. Statement of PD Sinhman, EO submitted on 16 October 2009.
5. All other related documents relied upon by the authority for passing the 7(a) orders.
In his reply, the PIO stated that the information cannot be provided under Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act. “The records asked by the applicant are still into enquiry under 7(a) proceedings, and thus, can be seen by applicant once they are all received by EPFO of sub-regional office in Subhash Road, Rohtak,” he said.
Citing unjustified and specious information provided by the PIO, Gupta filed her first appeal. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) while rejecting the appeal said the reply given by the PIO was sufficient.
Gupta then approached the CIC with her second appeal.
During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC noted that the appellant (Gupta) runs a firm which was raided for applicability of provident fund to the establishment. The Department’s team stated that it found 49 employees working in the unit and has therefore started an investigation to determine the liability and also the past liability of the unit.
The Department passed an order under Section 7(a) and was in the process of determining the liability of the unit.
The appellant (Gupta) wanted records which are available to the Department and the Department is claiming exemption under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act, the Commission noted.
The PIO also claimed that the cash book, balance-sheet and ledger of the establishment have not been presented before the department while Gupta said she was not aware about this.
Mr Gandhi, based on the available evidence and statements produced before the Commission, said, “It appears that the PIO’s contention that disclosing the records may lead to altering/modification of certain records which would impede the process of investigation. The Department claimed that the investigation into the issue of total liability of the appellant’s unit was still in the process of determination.”
While disposing the appeal, the Commission upheld the denial of information by the PIO under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2010/003234/10749
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2010/003234
Appellant : Anita Gupta,
Hisar - 125005, Haryana
Respondent : MS Arya
Public Information Officer/ RPFC-II,
Employees Provident Fund Organization, Sub-regional Office, 1st and 2nd floor,
Ganga Palace complex, Subash Road,
Rohtak - 124001
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