RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: PIOs played game of passing the paper without providing information

Expressing anguish, the CIC said the sequence of events displayed a pathetic admission of a complete lack of accountability and the incapability of the governance system to even know who is responsible for what. This is the 45th 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 coming down heavily on the Public Information Officers (PIOs) of the ministry of urban development (MUD), said that it was distressing that these PIOs have played the game of passing the paper but were not been able to provide the information sought by the complainant.

While giving this important judgement on 8 April 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner, said, "All the five PIOs are guilty of not doing their job and their actions certainly attract the penal provisions under Section 20 (1) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Either all the officers who have dealt with the RTI application are ignorant, or nobody knows who is responsible for what functions."

RTI activist and Delhi resident Subhash Chandra Agrawal sought information about government's policy on memorials for leaders. He sought the following information from the PIO and under secretary (W-II) of the MUD...

1. Details of the government policy to set up memorials and allow cremation of leaders for converting specially developed cremation sites into their respective samadhis.
2. List of memorial and samadhis built and/or maintained on government expenses.
3. Is it true that government works decided to have no more samadhis of departed leaders?
4. If yes, reasons for deviating from the said policy.
5. Is the government aware of its bungalows like the one at 6, Krishna Menon Marg, having been unauthorized converted into a memorial.
6. If yes, provide the list of all such unauthorized memorials, mentioning such encroachment on prime government Properties.
7. Please provide all other related information and documents.
8. Do rules provide the cremation of dead bodies at places other than regular cremation grounds like it was done for Delhi's former chief minister late Shri Saheb Singh Verma.
9. If not, what steps were taken by the government against cremation at a public ground.

The PIO, however, transferred the application to the MUD. SN Dubey, the under secretary, MUD asked five departments to directly send the information to Mr Agrawal. He asked DG (Works) PWD, Directorate of Estate, Chief Secretary of Delhi government, Secretary of New Delhi Municipal Corporation, and Commissioner of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to send the information.

OP Wadhwa, officer on special duty to the chief secretary of the Delhi government and PIO, transferred the application to the Joint Secretary Planning and PIO, Urban Development and to Dr RPS Yadav, DG (Works) Govt of NCT of Delhi. The application was again transferred to the Executive Engineer and PIO of PWD Maintenance Zone (M-3).

Finally, on 22 July 2008, the Executive Engineer replied to the application. He said...

1. No record in this regard is available in this office as it pertains to ministry of urban development, Central Government.
2. The construction or maintenance of samadhies or memorials is not under the jurisdiction of this office hence no information is available on the subject in this office.
3. Yes
4. Does not pertains to this office and issue is also out of the jurisdiction of this office.
5, 6 &7. Point 5, 6 & 7 does not pertains to this office in view of the information given above under Sl No2.
8. Shri Sahib Singh Verma, the former chief minister of Delhi's cremation took place on 3 July 2007 on the land of Delhi School of Sports, Ghevera More as per the decision taken by the Delhi government. For this purpose the arrangements were made by the concerned Deputy Commissioner Delhi and Engineer-in-Chief, Municipal Corporation of Delhi. The information given herein is factual and this office has not played any role on the issue.
9. Does not pertain to this office and no record what so ever is available in this office.

Meanwhile, Mr Agrawal, the RTI applicant, filed his first appeal before the First Appellate Authority (FAA) and after failing to receive any reply from the FAA, he then filed his second appeal before the CIC on 1 August 2008. The Commission, in an order on 13 January 2009, remanded the matter to the FAA.

However, since the FAA did not decide the matter, Mr Agrawal again approached the Commission.

During a hearing on 6 April 2009, the PIO and Executive Engineer stated that he could only reply to points 8 and 9 and that the other points would have to be replied by the other four public authorities to whom the RTI application had been transferred. Mr Agrawal then told the CIC that none of the four PIOs even bothered to provide any information to him.

While announcing the decision, Mr Gandhi, the CIC, said, "This sequence of events is displaying a pathetic admission of a complete lack of accountability and the incapability of the governance system to even knows who is responsible for what."

He said, the RTI Act envisages that a citizen will file a RTI application with a PIO and the information will be given to him within 35 days at most (including five days for transferring an application), unless it is rejected because of the exemptions of Section 8 (1).

Section 5 (4) & 5 (5) of the RTI Act state:
(4) The Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may seek the assistance of any other officer as he or she considers it necessary for the proper discharge of his or her duties.
(5) Any officer, whose assistance has been sought under sub-section (4), shall render all assistance to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, seeking his or her assistance and for the purposes of any contravention of the provisions of this Act, such other officer shall be treated as a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be.

Section 6 (3) mandates:
(3) Where an application is made to a public authority requesting for an information,-
(i) Which is held by another public authority; or
(ii) the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, the public authority, to which such application is made, shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and inform  the applicant immediately about such transfer: Provided that the transfer of an application pursuant to this sub-section shall be made as soon as practicable but in no case later than five days from the date of receipt of the application.

Mr Gandhi said, the provisions of Section 5 (4) & (5) along with Section 6 (3), clearly enunciate Parliament's intent that public authorities will have to provide the information within a stipulated time, even if the information is with different officers, or public authorities. "It is distressing that PIOs have played the game of passing the paper but not been able to provide the information sought by the complainant," the CIC said.

While allowing the appeal, the Commission asked the five PIOs to provide complete information to Mr Agrawal. "The five PIOs in the offices of DG (Works), Directorate of Estates, Chief Secretary -Delhi Government, Secretary-NDMC and MCD Commissioner's office are responsible for not providing information to the complainant," the CIC noted.

The Commission said the five PIOs are guilty of not furnishing information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of Section 7 by not replying within 30 days, as per the requirement of the RTI Act. It then issued a show-cause notice to all five PIOs asking them to submit reasons as to why penalty should not be levied on them.

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

Decision No. CIC /SG/C/2008/00286/SG/1015adjunct
http://www.rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/SG-08042009-25.pdf
Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2008/00286/SG

Complainant            : Subash Chandra Agrawal,
                                          Delhi-110006

PIO                              :  Manish Baijal,
                                         CPIO
                                         Under Secretary, (W-II)
                                         Room No. 333-C, Nirman Bhawan,
                                        New Delhi

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Sign a petition online to stop 10-12 daily deaths on Mumbai’s local trains!

Every day 10-12 commuters die in Mumbai due to overcrowding in local trains. This can be stopped by implementing cyclic timetable that can reduce passenger load on each local train by about 30% to 40% and also cut the travel time by 20% to 25%. Activist Samir Zaveri has started an online petition for this

Every day about 10 to 12 people die and 15-20 are injured while travelling on Mumbai’s local train network. This all can be stopped with a simple solution by using the cyclic timetable that can be implemented without spending a single paisa. With the Rail Budget round the corner, it is the time to make the commuters’ voice heard by the decision makers and by Members of Parliament (MPs) from Mumbai.

 

With this in mind, social activists Samir Zaveri and Dipak Gandhi, chairman of Mumbai Suburban Railway Passenger Association (MSRPA), have started an online petition requesting railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal to implement the cyclic timetable on Mumbai’s local rail network. The petition is also being sent to all Members of Parliament (MPs) from Mumbai, including Milind Deora, minister of state, communications & IT and shipping, Sanjay Nirupam, Priya Dutt, Gurudas Kamat, Sanjay Dina Patil, Piyush Goyal, Murli Deora, Sanjay Raut, Tariq Anwar, DP Tripathi, YP Trivedi and Bharatkumar Raut.

 

Here is the link to the petition: https://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/implement-cyclic-timetable-on-mumbai-s-local-rail-network-to-stop-deaths#share

 

After doing research and due diligence for years, septuagenarian Dipak Gandhi, chairman of MSRPA, and his colleagues have prepared a cyclic timetable, which can reduce passenger load on each local train by about 30% to 40% and also cut the travel time by 20% to 25% for long-distance commuters. The cyclic timetable also makes it possible to introduce 30% more services with the same number of rakes and tracks through super-fast and sector-wise services.

 

The suburban railway system in Mumbai is the most complex, densely loaded and intensively utilised system in the world and has the highest passenger density in the world—over 70 lakh commuters travel every day. During 2012, in Mumbai alone, around 3,541 people died while 3,808 were injured in railway accidents. This happens due to overcrowding of suburban or local trains. Specifically, a twelve-car rake carries over 8,000 passengers against its carrying capacity of 1,800, which leads to unbearably overcrowded trains during peak hours.

 

Traditional approaches of increasing capacity by increasing the number of coaches in rakes have not resulted in any improvement in the problem of overcrowding. The situation is further aggravated with frequent delays and uneven frequency of trains.

 

A simple mathematical analysis done by Rajaram Bojji, former managing director of Konkan Railway and inventor of the anti-collision device (ACD) also shows that the use of cyclic timetable can reduce the turnaround time for a local train by around 30% as well as waiting period for a commuter.

 

He said, “A commuter has to wait, skipping a train to board the right one. To some extent, the railway platform may carry a little extra number of passengers. Maybe it is better than crowding the train. There are other factors like percentage failure of signals, track conditions and maintenance of speed restrictions, unauthorised slums crowding the track sides forcing motormen to drive cautiously, which may deny the benefit. However, the idea is worth trying.”

 

Several activists like Zaveri, Gandhi, Gaurang Damani, Rishi Agarwal and NGOs like Moneylife Foundation and various passenger associations under the banner of “Coalition of Associations & Persons for Safe Rail Travel (CAPSRT)” have been requesting the Railways to follow the cyclic timetable on Mumbai's vast rail network.

 

The Indian Railways today is in a position to give not only safe but also speedy and comfortable rides to all its commuters from tomorrow, only if it redesigns its suburban timetable in Mumbai as per the principles of timetable construction laid down under the Indian Railways Act and its rules—and in conformity with today's traffic needs.

 

Read more about the cyclic timetable: Reduce halts to gain speed on Mumbai local trains, say experts 

 

Act NOW. Sign the petition and help Mumbai save 10-12 human lives every day!

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COMMENTS

GOVIND GOPAL SHANBHAG

4 years ago

MDTeam - Day by day travelling by Railways especially Western suburb is becoming an ordeal. I am after using the railway system for nearly 40 years, I have retired and need not take rail route very often. But whenever I take the route, very though of travelling by rail shudders me. Before implementation of cyclic time table, people of all ages, healthy and otherwise (at times listening to music and speaking over cell phone) should be educated against crossing the railway tracks which is the major reason for such high deaths.

Nifty, Sensex again on a firm downtrend: Thursday Closing Report

Yesterday we had mentioned that Nifty could still rise provided it does not close below 5,905. Today it fell below 5,905 in the first 10 minutes and then continued to fall. The next support is at 5,820
 

The market erased the gains accrued in the last three trading sessions on a sell-off in heavyweights as the Budget Session of Parliament began today. Yesterday we had mentioned that Nifty could still rise provided it does not close below 5,905. Today it fell below 5,905 in the first 10 minutes and then continued to fall. The next support for the Nifty is at 5,820. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) witnessed a volume of 64.18 crore shares and the advance decline ratio was 324:1205.

 

The domestic market opened weak tracking lacklustre global cues. US markets closed lower overnight as the minutes of the Federal Reserve January meeting recommended slowing or stop the bond buying initiative sooner than expected. Markets in Asia were in the negative in morning trade as Chinese premier Wen Jiabao reiterated his intent to rein in property prices.

 

The Nifty opened 33 points down at 5,910 and the Sensex started off the day at 19,549, a cut of 94 points from its close on Wednesday. The benchmarks hit their intraday highs in initial trade itself with the Nifty rising to 5,921 and the Sensex crawling up to 19,555.

 

Across-the-board selling as the Indian Parliament begins its Budget Session saw the indices drifting lower as trade progressed.

 

Addressing both Houses of Parliament at the onset of the Budget Session, president Pranab Mukherjee said, “Both global and domestic factors have affected our growth. We need to address the impact of both. My government has responded to the situation by taking several measures to revive investment activity and investor sentiment.”

 

The weak opening of the key European indices added to the woes of the local investors in noon trade. Barring the BSE Consumer Durables index, all other sectoral gauges on the BSE were in the red the late session.

 

The benchmarks dropped to their lows in the last few minutes of trade with the Nifty skidding to 5,844 and the Sensex declining to 19,290.

 

The market settled near the lows on heavy selling in metal, banking, realty and capital goods sectors. The Nifty closed 91 points (1.53%) at 5,852 while the Sensex settled at 19,325, a drop of 317 points (1.62%) from its previous close.

 

The broader indices underperformed the Sensex today. The BSE Mid-cap index tanked 1.64% and BSE Small-cap index tumbled 1.74%.

 

All sectoral indices ended lower today. The top losers were BSE Metal (down 3.23%); BSE Bankex (down 2.52%); BSE Realty (down 2.33%); BSE Capital Goods (down 2.07%) and BSE Oil & Gas (down 1.77%).

 

GAIL India (up 0.09%) was the lone gainer on the Sensex today. The chief losers were Jindal Steel & Power (down 4.19%); Tata Steel (down 4.18%); Sterlite Industries, ICICI Bank (down 3.77% each) and Hindalco Industries (down 3.54%).

 

The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—Videocon Industries (up 5.25%) and CRISIL (up 2.04%).

The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—Shriram Transport & Finance Company (down 7.72%) and Sun TV Network (down 7.21%).

 

The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—7Seas Technologies (up 19.94%) and Alka India (up 16.67%).

The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—Cimmco (down 13.36%) and Everlon Synthetics (down 213.20%).

 

Cipla (up 0.18%) and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (up 0.09%) were the only gainers on the Nifty. The losers were led by JSPL (down 4.47%); Tata Steel (down 4.10%); Reliance Infrastructure (down 3.93%); Sesa Goa (down 3.91%) and ICICI Bank (down 3.83%).

 

Markets in Asia closed lower as the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao suggested the need to rein in property prices. Comments arising form the US Fed’s January meeting also  weighed on sentiments.

 

The Shanghai Composite tumbled 2.97%; the Hang Seng tanked 1.72%; the Jakarta Composite slipped 0.04%; the Nikkei 225 dropped 1.39%; the Straits Times declined 0.64%; the Seoul Composite fell 0.47% and the Taiwan Weighted settled 0.89%. On the other hand, the KLSE Composite gained 0.04%.

 

At the time of writing, the key European markets were sharply down between 1.74% and 1.95% on worries that the US Fed will prune its asset buying programme. At the same time, the US stock futures were trading in the negative.

 

Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of shares totalling Rs433.59 crore on Wednesday while domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities amounting to Rs591.18 crore.

 

 Hindustan Motors is in talks with sports utility vehicle makers across Europe and other markets to utilise the surplus capacity of its Chennai car plant. The Chennai car plant, which is being demerged by the CK Birla company as a standalone subsidiary, is hopeful of roping in a couple of international SUV brands looking at outsourcing some of their manufacturing to India in the next few months. The stock closed 0.52% lower at Rs9.55 on the NSE.

 

Elecon Engineering Company has bagged two orders worth Rs 183 crore and Rs 14.42 crore. While the Rs 183-crore order is from NCC (formerly Nagarjuna Construction Company) for design-to-commissioning of coal handling pipe conveyor system, that of Rs14.42 crore is from Monnet Ispat & Energy for supply of stacker reclaimers. The stock tanked 3.07% to settle at Rs36.35 on the NSE.

 

Voltas, belonging to the Tata Group, today said it has inked a pact with Swiss textile equipments maker Benninger AG for marketing and selling the foreign firm’s products in India. The alliance is expected to strengthen the outreach of both Voltas and Benninger across the rapidly expanding Indian textile equipments market. Voltas dipped 1.96% to close at Rs87.35 on the NSE.

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