RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: When a PIO denies information on a completely false representation

In a clear case of giving misleading information, the PIO of the Railway Board was found wrongly claiming exemption citing a stay obtained in a different case. This is the 22nd in a series of important judgements given by Shailesh Gandhi, former CIC, that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

A Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Railway Board was found giving misleading information and wrongly claiming exemption where none exists and was ordered to provide information to the appellant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. While giving this important judgement, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, issued a show-cause notice to the PIO.


“From the facts before the Commission it is apparent that the deemed PIO SM Mathur is 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 appears that the deemed PIO’s actions attract the penal provisions of Section 20 (1),” the Central Information Commission (CIC) said in its order dated 15 June 2009.


GPN Tiwari, a resident of Gorakhpur district on 14 November 2008 sought information about his answer books from the PIO of Railway Board. He appeared in about 3A Exams (main) from SO (Accts) group conducted by Director of Finance (CCA) of the Railway Board, during 2004 and 2006. He said he was fully confident that the papers were solved to his utmost satisfaction and the marks obtained by him seem to be very low. Therefore the appellant had asked for observing the following answer books in original for his personal verification and ultimate satisfaction:



Roll No.

Subject code

Paper code

Marks obtained


Appx. 3A Exam-2004 (main)

(from NER/GKP)






Appx. 3A Exam-2006 (main) (from NCR/ALD)









The PIO replied that “Answer books of the Appendix-3 (IREM) Examinations are preserved in the Railway Board for a prescribed period. Recently, CIC has ordered disclosure of answer books of Appendix-3(IREM) Examinations by the Railway Board. Railway ministry has filed appeal in the High Court of Delhi against the said order which is the subject matter of CWP 9049/2008.  Hon'ble High Court of Delhi has granted stay order on 19 December 2008 on the CIC orders of disclosure of answer etc.  Hence, answer books of Appendix-3 (IREM) Examinations cannot be provided at present.”


Tiwari then filed the first appeal with the First Appellate Authority (FAA), whose order said that “I find that information as sought by you and available in this office as already been furnished by the PIO vide letter dated 31.12.2008.  The appeal has been examined and a brief apprising you with the position you with the position have already been provided from the Directorate concerned.”


Not satisfied with the replies provided by both the PIO and the FAA, the applicant then approached the Commission. During the hearing, the Commission noted that the PIO denied information on a complete false representation and the stay order given by the high court does not cover the RTI application in the instant matter. The high court stay order referred to by the PIO states as follows:


WP(C) No.9049/2008 and CM.No.17383/2008 (Stay): “Learned counsel for the petitioner submits that the petitioner has   complied with the substantial part of the order passed by the CIC, however, petitioner is aggrieved by the direction of the CIC whereby the petitioner has been directed to disclose and handover copies of the answer-sheets of other candidates, which he submits is against the decision of the Full Bench of the CIC itself as observed in para 42 of the Judgment.”


Para 42 of the CIC’s decision referred to in the said stay order states:

“42. However, in so far as the departmental examinees are concerned or the proceedings of Departmental Promotion Committees are concerned, the Commission tends to take a different view. In such cases, the numbers of examinees are limited and it is necessary that neutrality and fairness are maintained to the best possible extent. Disclosure of proceedings or disclosure of the answer sheets not only of the examinees but also of the other candidates may bring in fairness and neutrality and will make the system more transparent and accountable. The Commission, moreover finds that the proceedings of the Departmental Promotion Committees or its Minutes are not covered by any of the exemptions provided for under Section 8(1) and, therefore, such proceedings and minutes are to be disclosed. If a written examination is held for the purpose of selection or promotion, the concerned candidate may ask for a copy of the evaluated answer sheet from the authority conducting such test/examination.”


Mr Gandhi observed that the CIC’s decision in fact states that the case covered by this application is not covered by any of the exemption of the RTI Act and the Commission has ruled that the information must be provided. “This appears to be a clear case of the deemed PIO-Director (Finance) giving misleading information and wrongly claiming exemption where none exists,” he noted.


The Commission, while allowing the appeal asked the PIO to provide the information to the appellant before 20 June 2009.


It further said, “From the facts before the Commission it is apparent that the deemed PIO SM Mathur is 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 appears that the deemed PIO’s actions attract the penal provisions of Section 20 (1). A show-cause notice is being issued to him, and he is directed give his reasons to the Commission to show cause why a penalty should not be levied on him.”






Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000966/3696


Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000966



Appellant                                            : GPN Tiwari, AA


                                                            Dist. Gorakhpur (UP)


Respondent                                        : CPIO (III)

                                                            Railway Board

                                                            Ministry of Railway, Govt of India

                                                            RTI Cell




4 years ago

I only wish there were more upright commisioners like Hon. Shailesh Gandhi.

South Delhi mayor overrules officers on safety issues at Feroz Shah Kotla ground

Feroz Shah Kotla stadium does not fulfil structural or fire safety standards, and yet time and again the Delhi Cricket Association holds international cricket matches by obtaining provisional certificates endangering public safety

From being a gentleman’s game, cricket in India has now become a money spinner, especially for the associations that are mostly controlled by politicians. This sometimes puts the public safety in danger as revealed in a reply received by Subhash Chandra Agrawal under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.


“Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) has been getting provisional certificates to hold cricket matches at this ever-risky (Feroz Shah Kotla Ground) stadium for last so many years where even courts from time-to-time have desired the Association fulfilling all such requirements in a time-bound period. DDCA has been guilty of ignoring directions of the courts in this regard. Significantly, the DDCA president is a prominent leader of the party in power at South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC),” Mr Agrawal alleged.


The authorities of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), on nine occasions issued provisional occupancy certificates (POCs) to the DDCA for holding cricket matches at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground. “Barring the last four occasions when the POCs were given on the basis of order of the Delhi High Court, all other POCs were issued after receiving the Completion Certificate File dated 14 July 2008 as well as structural safety certificate fire safety certificate and no objection certificate (NoC) from the Assistant Electrical Inspector,” the Central Information Commission (CIC) noted in its order.


The CIC said, “The information provided by the CPIO also reflects the concern of the officials of the MCD regarding the safety aspect and more than once they have recommended that the POC not be issued in the absence of the required documents. The noting also reveals that there is the issue of huge outstanding of property tax from the DDCA (Rs8.67 crore as on 4 January 2013) and also house tax and it was recommended several times on file that on this account also the POC should not be issued.”


Further it has been pointed out by the Assistant Engineer (B) HQ that the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) has observed in their letter addressed to Delhi Downtown Development Authority (DDA) with copy marked to the MCD that, “the DDA should not grant the POC, which is in violation of the Building Bye laws (BBLs) and Master Plan provisions. The completion/ Occupancy Certificate should be granted as per BBLs and Master Plan provisions”.


Even the Assistant Engineer (Bldg) Central Zone had noted that there is no provision for issuing provisional occupancy certificate as per Building Bye Laws, 1983.


The Commission said, “It is observed that on at least two occasions, the Deputy Commissioner (City Zone) and the Assistant Engineer (Bldg) have noted that permission may be granted to DDCA to hold international matches at their own risk and cost subject to obtaining NOC from Chief Fire Officer, Delhi and that DDCA shall be required to furnish an undertaking that MCD shall not be liable for any untoward incident during the period.”


Mr Agrawal said, even the Commissioner was surprised by the manner in which public safety was put on stake by the mayor of SDMC in allowing cash-rich DDCA to hold cricket matches on 6 January 2013 and from 22 February 2013 to 26 February 2013 at the Kotla Ground overruling advice of civic-body officers who suggested not allowing use of stadium.


“It is highly irresponsible of SDMC mayor that such undesired permission to DDCA is provided with remarks ‘at risk and responsibility of DDCA’ as if the civic body has no liability and responsibility for any possible casualty by issuing such provisional permissions,” he said.


The RTI activist also demanded an enquiry whether the stadium building is built in violation of norms set for heritage monuments, and if a pillar-shoe is erected in close vicinity of a huge sewer line. He said, in case the DDCA fails to fulfil all requirements including safety and pending dues by end of January 2013, then the provisional permission to DDCA to hold India-Australia cricket match at the Stadium must be withdrawn.


Soldier in Jammu invokes Human Rights Commission against Information Commissioner

Being denied of information and humiliated during the hearing of his case on 10th January at the State Information Commission office, Sanskrit scholar and RTI activist Dr Subedar Surinder Sharma turned to the State Human Rights Commission to get justice

Jammu-based soldier, Subedar Surinder Sharma was filled with grief when his sister, in her thirties, died under mysterious circumstances on 29 January 2011. Agitated over the fact that the police recorded the case as ‘suicide’ and not ‘murder’ despite alleged proof in the forensic laboratory’s autopsy report, Sharma invoked the RTI (Right to Information) Act. He asked for inspection of documents of all records pertaining to autopsy as well as “chain of custody” of autopsy samples from the Government Medical College and Hospital in Jammu.  He had also requested permission of assistance of his friend Deepak Sharma to be present during inspection as he is not well versed with English—this soldier though is a Sanskrit scholar having done his PhD in it.

The public information officer (PIO) declined information stating he does not have the copy of the autopsy report. Sharma then filed the first appeal but was informed by the First Appellate Authority that they indeed have the copy of the autopsy report but cannot allow inspection as records of other patients would also be revealed. Surinder Sharma, appealed to the FAA that he was only interested in his sister’s report but was denied information. 

Hence, he appealed to the State Information Commissioner where his case was pending until he was asked to be present for hearing on 4 January 2013 at the Chief State Information Commission’s office where the case was to be heard.

His friend, Deepak Sharma also filed a separate RTI application on 29 April 2011 asking for the “crime scene observation report” of Surinder Sharma’s sister, from the PIO of the Office of Forensic Laboratory, Jammu. On 26 May 2011, he was denied information under the pretext of Section 8. He filed an appeal with the FAA on 12 July 2011 but was denied information. Deepak Sharma then filed a complaint with the State Information Commission but by a decision on 4 January 2012, the Information Commissioner dismissed the petition stating that the applicant has already received the information from the PIO. States Deepak Sharma, “the Information Commissioner without giving me a notice or hearing my side, gave such an order.” Aggrieved at this “lie, as I had never received the information”, he asked for a review application. Very strangely, the SIC sent back the application to the FAA who once again turned down his request. Finally, Surinder Sharma under media glare, wrote a RTI application with his own blood on 12 October 2012 and submitted it to the PIO. It was then that the SIC took it seriously and the PIO was compelled to give a copy of report.

However, Deepak Sharma’s hearing at the Chief State Information Commissioner’s office on 10 January last week turned ugly. Both the RTI applicants are crying foul over the humiliation meted to them by GR Sufi, Chief State Information Commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir.  States Surinder Sharma, “when we sat on the chairs, Mr Sufi asked us to vacate our chairs, saying it is not meant for people like us. He also humiliated us and threatened us that no appeal of ours would be entertained and that any case can be filed against us. He also took objection to my presence to assist Mr Surendra. He said that I am not an advocate. When I brought to his notice that the RTI Act allows assistance from any citizen, not necessarily a lawyer, he was very rude. Shocked at the arrogance we have made a petition to the State Human Rights Commission, to conduct a probe against Mr Sufi for his behavior.”

Chandigarh-based Surendera M. Bhanot, coordinator RTIFED who is campaigning against the arrogance of various information commissioners writes in Humjanenge blog, “Such behaviour of the Information Commissioners has brought the institution of Information Commissions to disrepute. This has opened a new front for the information seeker to approach the Central/State Human Right Commissions. Exactly so, one information seeker has really invoked this right.”

Lately, the information commissioners have come under ire for killing the RTI Act through their insipid orders. Now, it is a bit more serious as one of their fraternity members is alleged of misconduct towards RTI applicants.

Copy of the letter addressed to the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission

Surinder Sharma & Deepak Sharma, R/o Mandlik Bhawan, 412-C, Jeevan Nagar, Jammu (Complainants)


Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information

Commission, Wazarat Road, Jammu (Respondent)


Sub: Complaint of human rights violation and serious breach of constitutional right of the complainants by Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission, Jammu.


Hon’ble Sir,


It is submitted with deep grief and pain that the complainants were humiliated, harassed, threatened to be implicated in false cases and the fundamental rights of Right to Equality before law, Right to Information, Right to a fair and transparent trial in the court of law, Right to life and liberty, Right to live with human dignity, Right to freedom of speech and expression and Right to enter in any public office were violated by Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission, Jammu.

The complainants would also like to bring in to the kind notice of Hon’ble Chief Minister Sahib that the complainant no. 2 had already submitted a written request to the J&K State Information Commission, dated 30 March 2012, receipt no. 2912, requesting for the videography of his cases pending for trial at J&K State Information Commission, for a fair and transparent trial. But unfortunately, for the reasons best known to the State Information Commission, the Commission remained insensitive and even did not bother to reply the complainant of his request.

The complainants would also like to bring this in to the kind notice of the Hon’ble State Human Rights Commission that the respondent had even himself violated the provisions of the state RTI Act and put the life of the appellants/information seekers on risk. The section 6(2) of the state RTI Act prohibits any personal question, motive and the purpose and use for seeking information, but the respondent had in utter violation of this provision of the Act in his decision no. 45 of SIC/J/Comp., dated 31/10/2011directed the information seeker to apprise him of the purpose of seeking and use of sought information.

The details of the present complaint case and circumstances are as follows:

That a case titled “Surinder Sharma Vs GMC” was listed for hearing in the open court of Hon’ble Chief State Information Commissioner, Sh. GRSufi on 10/01/2013 at 11am. The applicant along with his duly authorized representative, Sh. Deepak Sharma (Complainant no. 2) approached to the State Information commission office on 10/01/13 at 10.45am.

That both the complainants after showing their presence to the private secretary of the State Chief Information Commissioner , entered in to the open court of State Chief Information Commissioner , Sh. GR Sufi , where the case was listed for hearing.

That both the complainants humbly wished the Hon’ble State Chief Information Commissioner and took their seats. The officials from the GMC, Jammu were already seating on the chairs.

That the State Chief Information Commissioner , Sh.GR Sufi suddenly in a very rude manner ordered the complainants to vacate the chairs immediately , stating the reasons that the complainants have no right and capacity to sit on chairs before him . He also remarked that the complainants and some others like the people of Jammu region do not deserve to sit on chairs before him and only senior officials/ bureaucrats like the officials from GMC, deserve to sit on the chairs before him.

That both the complainants as ordered by the State Chief Information Commissioner immediately vacated their chairs and in standing position requested to start the trial. The complainant no. 1 (Sh. Surinder Sharma ) requested to the Hon’ble State Chief Information Commissioner , that the complainant no. 2 ( Sh. Deepak Sharma) would present the case on his behalf. (This request of the complainant No. 1 was under the provisions laid down in the J&K RTI Act, 2009).

That the State Chief Information Commissioner, while violating the provisions laid down in the J&K RTI Act, 2009, rejected the request of the complainant no. 1 to present complainant no. 2 as his representative, citing the reasons that only an advocate with valid licence can only represent an applicant in the open courts of the Information Commission and since the complainant no. 2 (Sh.Deepak Sharma) is not an advocate , hence the complainant no. 2 could not be allowed to represent the case of complainant no. 1( Sh. Surinder Sharma).

That the complainant no. 2 (Sh.Deepak Sharma) humbly requested to the State Chief Information Commissioner  that the J&K RTI Act, 2009 , permits even a non-advocate to represent an applicant and no where in the Act it is mentioned that a non-advocate cannot represent an applicant in the case.

That the State Chief Information Commissioner in a fit of anger ordered the complainants not to speak in front of him, ordered to get out of his court immediately and also warned the complainants not to file any appeal/complaint in the J&K State Information Commission in future . The Hon’ble State Chief Information Commissioner even threatened to implicate the complainants in to false cases and also threatened to teach them a suitable lesson if the complainants approach to any forum against this conduct of the State Chief Information Commissioner and also ordered the complainants not to enter in to the premises of open courts of the Commission and even in the office of J&K state Information Commission.

That the complainants were even not allowed to mark their attendance on the attendance register. That the State Chief Information Commissioner also stated that in future the complainants/appeal under the J&K RTI Act, 2009, from the complainants would not be accepted/entertained by the State Chief Information Commissioner.

Prayer: Through this prayer, the complainants most humbly request to the Hon’ble State Human Rights Commission to conduct an independent probe in this matter, direct the State Chief Information Commissioner to honor the fundamental rights of the complainants ,direct the State Chief Information Commissioner to restrain from filling any false case against the complainants, direct the State Chief Information Commissioner to acknowledge and accept the appeals/complaints filed by the complainants under the provisions of the J&K RTI Act, 2009, direct the J&K State Information Commission to conduct the videography of all the cases of the complainants for a fair and transparent trail, direct State Chief Information Commissioner, Sh.GR Sufi not to restrict the entry of the complainants in open courts of the commission, not to restrain the entry of the complainants in the premises of J&K State Information Commission both in Jammu and Srinagar office, the State Chief Information Commissioner may also be directed not to infringe the rights of the complaints to seek information under J&K RTI Act from state public authorities, the State Chief Information Commissioner may also be directed not to violate Section 6(2) of the state RTI Act and not to put the lives of innocent information seekers on the radar of the corrupt elements by asking about the use of sought information, or to award any other suitable relief to the complainants as this commission may deemed appropriate.



Surinder Sharma (complainant no. 1)

Deepak Sharma (Complainant no. 2)

R/o Mandlik Bhawan, 412-C,

Jeevan Nagar, Jammu – 180010

Mob. +919419110579




P M Ravindran

4 years ago

This report not only exposes the callousness of the information commissioner but also the indifference of the army authorities who seems to have not lend any helping hand to the soldier which he direly needed and should have been provided. I can only hope that there will be some positive action from the human rights commission though experience tell me otherwise. The lesson I have learnt over the years of my search for justice (not necessarily in personal cases only) is that when a citizen complains to an appropriate authority for redressal of grievance all that happens is that that authority uses this complaint to exploit the one complained against. The complainant hardly ever gets redressal.


4 years ago

Excellent Article Useful to all.The Anger by Honorouble Sufi stating that Jammu people can not sit in Chairs in front of him, i wonder , whether it is due to Geographical disputes between jammu and Kashmiris existing in his Sub-Consciece mind.However the whole Episode is Unbelievable. Earlier Moner Life Published 20 orders of State Information Commissiners,- Favourable to Information Seekers. Without getting required Information , How can any Indian Know satisfied getting his doubts Clarified.

Akshay Iyer

4 years ago

Hello Ma'am! This points to a larger malaise. It is agonizing for an individual if information is denied under trivial grounds. Hope the article has been read by someone from the J&K Government. It is extremely important. I appreciate that you included the reply from the State's human rights commission. Good job Ma'am!


4 years ago

This is sickening.

jaideep shirali

4 years ago

Somebody needs to tell these public servants, as Anna Hazare once said, that they are not our masters. This is the problem when only bureaucrats are given these positions. They cannot digest the fact that the citizen can have the upper hand using the information gained through RTI.

Vinay Joshi

4 years ago


Great! Absolutely perfect a topic you've posted. Hope the state administration, if any? should immediately take cognizance of this important an issue!

Mr. Wajahat Habibullah,ex CIC, [rather first] an awardee, secularist, should suo motu initiate action with the 'appropriate government', if any. Not on paper!

When J&K political leadership is not accessible to it's citizens [as per Mr.W.Habibullah]it is pertinent to FORCEFULLY seek State Human Rights Commission involvement & RIGHTFULLY seek 'legal remedial measures'.


Kishore Moghe

4 years ago

J&K RTI Act, 2009 is weaker than the RTI Act applicable to rest of the country. This is because under the cover of Article 370, J & K Govt. dosen't want to strengthen it.

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