The CIC said this was a blatant case where without any reasonable cause, both the PIO and FAA denied information to an elderly person about an affidavit claimed to have been filed by him. This is the 119th 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, issued a show-cause notice to the Public Information Officer (PIO) in the Department of Trade and Taxes (DTT) at the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) for not furnishing information within the prescribed time limit under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
While giving this judgement on 15 October 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner, said, “The PIO and First Appellate Authority (FAA) have both failed to discharge their duties under the RTI Act. This is blatantly a case where without any reasonable cause information has been denied to an elderly person about the affidavit claim to have been given by him.”
Delhi resident Radhey Shyam Aggarwal, on 15 June 2009, sought information regarding copy of a no objection certificate and affidavit filed by him from the PIO of DTT at the GNCTD. Here is the information he sought from the PIO...
Copy of NOC/Affidavit of Radhey Shayam Aggarwal from the file of M/s Aggarwal Traders, TIN No. in TIN/VAT no.07090325518 applied by Arun Kumar Gupta from Ward No19.
The PIO denied the information. He stated, “It is to inform you that as per Section 98 of Delhi Value Added Tax (DVAT) Act such information is prohibited, the same cannot be provided under RTI Act.”
Aggarwal, not satisfied with the reply, filed his first appeal. While upholding the PIO’s reply, the FAA in his order said, “I have gone through the reply given by the PIO, and do not find any infirmity in the same. It is true that the PIO is prohibited under Section 98 of the DVAT Act to divulge the information to a third party. Rather I would like to add M/s Aggarwal Traders has a fiduciary relationship with the Department of Trade & Taxes. And as per Section 8 of the RTI Act, 2005, the PIO is not obliged to give any information relating to the said dealer to a third party (in this case the appellant).”
Not satisfied with the PIO’s reply and FAA’s order, Aggarwal, then approached the CIC. In his second appeal, he stated, “The PIO’s reply is illegal. The FAA has wrongly upheld the response of the PIO by holding that the PIO is prohibited under Section 98 of the DVAT Act to divulge the information to a third party and that M/s Aggarwal Traders has a fiduciary relationship with the Department of Trade & Taxes.”
During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted that the PIO without any application of mind has refused to give the information claiming that the VAT action does not permit to give the information.
“In the instant case the appellant, an 80 year old senior citizen, had asked for a copy of an affidavit which he alleges was falsely given in his name to the Department. The PIO refused to give him the information purportedly given by him,” the CIC said.
Mr Gandhi said, “The FAA, in what appears to be collusion to deny and harass the citizen, suddenly claimed that the department gets the information in a fiduciary relationship. The department obtains the information in fulfilment of regulatory requirements but the FAA apparently would like to claim other relationships with people who prevent false affidavits.”
While allowing the appeal, the CIC directed the PIO to provide the information to Aggarwal before 30 October 2009.
Further finding the PIO 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, the Commission issued a show-cause notice to him.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/002075/5158
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/002075
Appellant : Radhey Shyam Aggarwal
Respondent : NS Bhoria
Public Information Officer & VATO
Govt. of NCT of Delhi
Zone-III Office of Deputy Commissioner
Deptt. of Trade and Taxes, Room No. 1201,
12th Floor, Vyapar Bhawan,