The deemed PIO transferred the RTI application to other branch despite possessing the information in his department, which the CIC termed as 'wilful denial'. This is the 85th 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, directed the deemed Public Information Officer (PIO) and assistant director of education (ADE) for vigilance at Directorate of Education from the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to provide required information and also issued a show cause notice for the delay.
While giving this judgement on 19 January 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “It is impossible to imagine how information about a complaint of alleged bribery against a department official could have been available at any place except the Vigilance department. The ADE (Vigilance) Hari Om Gupta has acted wilfully in denying information and wilfully obfuscating the issue in the RTI application.”
New Delhi resident Taj Mohammad, on 18 June 2008, sought information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the PIO of Directorate of Education in the GNCTD.
He sought a copy of comments of ADE (Estate) with copy of the report of inquiry officer and final action taken, report on the complaint filed with Director of Education vide diary no10343 R&I Branch, on 31 March 2008 from the PIO.
The PIO forwarded the RTI application to the Vigilance Branch vide office letter no DE/RTI/ID no2768/2008/1976 on 23 June 2008. Further the PIO stated, "As per the information received from Act branch, the requisite information has been transferred to the Deputy Director of Education (Central) vide office letter No DE/RTI/ID No2768/2008/9212-13 dated 22 July 2008 and they being the independent PIO will supply the information directly."
Since Taj Mohammad did not receive any information from the PIO, he on 23 July 2008 filed his first appeal. The First Appellate Authority (FAA), in his order stated that the information as available has been furnished by the PIO, which was adequate and satisfactory.
While disposing the first appeal, the FAA said, "Since the information sought by the appellant lies with the district Central, the appellant is advised to approach the concerned FAA i.e. Regional Director of Education (Central)/ FAA in case of non-receipt of information from Deputy Director of Education (Central)/ PIO."
Not satisfied with the reply, Taj Mohammad then filed his second appeal before the CIC. During the hearing, the Commission noted that the appellant (Taj Mohammad) had filed a complaint on 31 March 2008 against VC Pachouri, ADE (Estate) in which he alleged that a bribe of Rs50,000 was demanded from him and by his RTI application he was seeking action taken on his complaint.
The PIO, on 23 June 2008 had sought the assistance of Hari Om Gupta, ADE (Vigilance) under Section 5 (4). A reminder was sent on 14 July 2008. The ADE (Vigilance) forwarded the PIO's 23rd June letter to ACT Branch stating that the complainant is a teacher in an aided school. The ACT branch in turn returned the letter to RTI cell on 15 July 2008 stating that this pertains to District Centre.
RTI cell transferred the application to PIO/DDE district centre. DDE centre further transferred this on 7 August 2008 to Principal, Anglo-Arabic Senior Secondary School at Ajmeri Gate in Delhi which could have had no information about the information sought.
Taj Mohammad, then showed a letter dated 14 January 2009 from PIO of HQ which stated that the information would be available with ADE (Vigilance), who was also asked to be present before the Commission.
The PIO presented a letter dated 24 October 2008 by Hari Om Gupta purportedly explaining his role in which there was no explanation of why he first did nothing from 23 June 2008 to 7 July 2008 and subsequently contended that DDE Central would have this information.
Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, said, "It is impossible to imagine how information about a complaint of alleged bribery against a department official could have been available at any place except the Vigilance department. It appears the First Appellate authority has not done his job with diligence."
"It appears from the facts presented that the ADE (Vigilance) Hari Om Gupta has acted wilfully in denying information and wilfully obfuscating the issue in the RTI application. The Principal of the School could have no role to play in whether any action had been taken by the department on allegation of bribery," the CIC said in its order.
While allowing the appeal, the Commission directed the deemed PIO Hari Om Gupta to give the information sought by the appellant before 5 February 2009.
Mr Gandhi also said, from the facts it was apparent that the deemed PIO was 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 also appears that there was wilful attempt to deny the information by the deemed PIO Hari Om Gupta, he said.
The Commission, then issued a show cause notice to the deemed PIO Hari Om Gupta. The deemed PIO was also asked to give a written submission showing cause as to why penalty should not be imposed on him as mandated under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act. The Commission also stated that it was also likely to consider disciplinary action against Hari Om Gupta.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2008/00024/SG/1148
Appeal No. CIC/ SG/A/2008/00024
Appellant : Taj Mohammad
Respondent 1. : Public Information Officer (CPIO)
Directorate of Education
Govt. of NCT Delhi
The apex court also directed authorities to endeavour to withdraw criminal cases against those protesting against the nuclear power plant’s commissioning
The Supreme Court on Monday while giving a green signal to Tamil Nadu-based Kudankulam nuclear power plant dismissed a plea against commissioning of the nuke power project.
"Kudankulam nuclear plant is safe and secure and it is necessary for larger public interest and economic growth of the country. Nuclear power plants are needed in the country for the present and future generations," the apex court said.
A bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra, which had reserved the verdict following marathon arguments in the last three months, also issued 15 guidelines on commissioning, safety, security and the environmental issues related with the nuke power plant.
Adding to this, the Supreme Court has directed the authorities to endeavour to withdraw criminal cases against those protesting against the plant’s commissioning.
Anti-nuclear activists filed a batch of petitions saying that safety measures recommended for the plant by an expert body have not been put in place.
They also raised various questions pertaining to the disposal of nuclear waste, the plant’s impact on the environment and the safety of people living nearby, besides other issues linked to the controversial plant.
The Centre, Tamil Nadu government and Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCL), which operates the plant, had refuted all the allegations on safety and security aspects.
They had submitted that the plant is completely safe and can withstand any kind of natural disaster and external terrorist attack.
The bench, on the first date of hearing on 13 September 2012, had refused to stay the loading of fuel for the plant but had agreed to examine the risk associated with the project, saying the safety of people in its vicinity is its key concern.
If any common man had been caught on phone or tape professing to do money laundering activities, can you imagine what might have happened to him? He would immediately be put into the jail and suffered 100% capital erosion
Twenty-three major Indian banks, both public and private, and insurance companies, are running a nation-wide money laundering racket, blatantly violating the laws of the land. And the culprits being exposed this time are Life Insurance Corp of India (LIC), State Bank of India (SBI), Bank of Baroda (BoB), Punjab National Bank (PNB), Canara Bank, Indian Bank, IDBI Bank, Yes Bank, Federal Bank, Reliance Capital, Birla Sunlife and many others, who together manage assets worth thousands of crores of rupees and have equally staggering deposits at their disposal, says Cobrapost.
Cobrapost said in the course of its undercover investigation, it came face to face with some shocking, stark realities about the functioning of the entire banking and insurance industry of the country. “Our interaction with all officials, some with the ranks of divisional manager, territory manager, assistant general manager and vice presidents, with scores of branches under their charge, bears it out clearly that they are conducting their questionable business with nonchalance that only crooks show when they find they are above law or when they find the powerful are on their side,” it said.
“In some cases, we came across certain bankers who were plain crooks in the mould of bankers. For instance, we have a senior manager of Federal Bank who without blinking an eye says, ‘Uske liye to hawala kar deta hoon (I can have a hawala [transaction] done for that),’ when we seek his help to send England some of the crores to some of the relatives of ‘our minister’s’ wife,” Cobrapost added.
In one particular case, Cobrapost found out how S Sake, a minister from Andhra Pradesh, provided guarantee for the safety of black money investment in a real estate project. “In his zeal to net client with deep pockets as our to-be-found-nowhere minister who could put on his table Rs25 crore of unaccounted cash, Manohar (R Manohar, assistant general manager of Indian Bank at South Delhi branch) guided Cobrapost investigative journalist, Syed Masroor Hasan, to Dr H Prasad, an orthopedic surgeon from Tirupati who wanted our minister to invest his crores of black money in his real estate project”.
“We are invited to Hyderabad where we meet Vasu, a hawala operator, who claims to be a former Andhra cop. He would help us deliver Rs 25 crore to Dr Prasad at Tirupati for his project through is racket. Our next port of call is S Sake, who is Minister of Primary Education with the Andhra Pradesh government, with nine other departments under his charge, which shows the power he wields. Sake stands guarantor for the safety of our black money investment in Dr Prasad’s real estate project. This helps us uncover a nexus between the banker and the hawala kingpin who are running their racket without any fear of law, with active patronage of our political masters,” Cobrapost said.
The Nexus between banks and insurance companies:
Another fact that comes to the fore, from the Cobrapost investigation is a nexus between the banks and the insurance companies. If the banks do not have their own insurance companies, they have joint ventures with private insurers. “Yes Bank, for instance, has a tie-up with Bajaj Allianz, which would question an investor only when the investment crosses Rs1 crore, as we came to know from a Yes Bank official. And such investments can be done in cash. Whenever we went about proposing to bankers, public or private, that we wanted to invest our black money in insurance, they immediately called the managers of the their insurance associates to our presence or sought their advice on phone, making it amply clear that banks and insurance companies are hand in glove,” it said.
Operation Red Spider 2 (from Cobrapost) establishes that money laundering is not confined to private banks, and is not an aberration, as is being made out in certain quarters in the wake of the first expose on 14 March 2013 in which HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank were shown involved in money laundering. The scale is vast and unfathomable and the joke is that “In money laundering, there can be NO KYC done at all!” says Cobrapost.
Cobrapost’s observations on this common practice are as follows:
• Money laundering practices are part and parcel of banking and insurance business across the board;
• Even a walk-in customer can avail of such services that help him launder all his unaccounted cash;
• Money laundering services are being offered openly as a standard product across the board.
According to Cobrapost, the defensive argument from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Finance Ministry and the banks themselves has been that “there were only violation of KYC norms” and as such “no money laundering took place because no transaction took place”.
Knowing the woes of ordinary customers on KYC, Cobrapost asks, “If any common man had been caught on phone or tape professing to do these things (money laundering activities), can you imagine what might have happened to him?” Our answer is that the man may have even gone to jail and suffered 100% capital erosion.
The Cobrapost press release concludes that in addition, these transactions are not confined to a few low-level front-office staff members as is being made out in all the so-called ‘inquiries’. Interactions with all officials, some with the ranks of divisional manager, territory manager, assistant general manager and vice presidents, with scores of branches under their charge, bear it out clearly that they are parties to and facilitators for these transactions and are conducting their questionable business with nonchalance that only crooks show when they find they are above law or when they find the powerful are on their side.
Cobrapost is critical of the Finance Minister as well, in spite of his warning to money launderers and tax evaders that “we are watching you and will come after you.” Till date, no investigative agency has launched any investigation into the heaps of evidence submitted by Cobrapost, says the press release.