RTI Judgement Series: UGC asked to investigate a case of providing false information
The PIO of UGC supplied false information to the applicant which prompted the CIC to direct the secretary of UGC to investigate how false information was provided to the appellant. This is the 98th 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 secretary of the University Grants Commission (UGC) under the human resources development (HRD) ministry to probe the matter where its Public Information Officer (PIO) was found guilty of providing false information to the applicant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
While giving this judgement on 2 February 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “Just before the hearing, the PIO admitted that Holy Cross College was favoured with financial assistance under the 'Innovative Programme' of the UGC without receiving any proposal from the college. Thus it appears that false information was given to the appellant wilfully, perhaps to cover up an irregularity.”
Nagarcoil (Tamil Nadu) resident A Kalaivanan, on 4 August 2008 sought information about the approval of “Innovative Programmes” Teaching and Research in Interdisciplinary and Emerging Area—Under the Tenth Plan. Here is the information he sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and the reply given by the PIO...
1. As per the guidelines, whether the college were asked to submit the proposal through their respective university.
PIO's Reply: Yes.
2. Is there any college from Tamil Nadu which submitted the proposal directly to the UGC?
PIO's Reply: No, The proposal has been received from a college in the state of Tamil Nadu duly forwarded by the affiliated university.
3. If yes, kindly give me the list of colleges that have not submitted their proposal through the University.
PIO's Reply: N.A.
4. What were the actions taken on the proposals submitted directly to the UGC? (Not through the university.)
PIO's Reply: Proposals received directly from the college/institutes, not forwarded through the respective University, will not be considered for financial assistance under Innovative Programme.
5. Provide the copy of the decision (action) as mentioned in 4.
PIO's Reply: A copy of the guidelines of Innovative Programme is enclosed Annexure.
There was no mention of first appeal filed or any order issued by the First Appellate Authority (FAA).
A Kalaivanan on 25 November 2008 filed his second appeal before the Commission.
During the hearing, it became known that the PIO on 27 January 2009 informed Kalaivanan that Holy Cross College of Nagarcoil had not submitted its proposal through the university, yet it was favoured with the financial assistance under the 'Innovative programme'.
Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted that it appears that false information was given to the appellant wilfully, perhaps to cover up an irregularity.
While allowing the appeal, he then directed, the secretary of UGC to investigate how the false information came to be given to the appellant on this matter.
“He (the secretary of UGC) will submit a report to the Commission and also send a copy of this to the appellant before 25 February 2009. The report will identify the officer guilty for providing the false information against whom penal action under Section 20 (1) will be initiated by the Commission,” the CIC said in its order.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC /SG/A/2008/00237/1424
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2008/00237/
Appellant : A Kalaivanan,
Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu - 629004
Respondent 1 : AK Parate,
Jt. Secretary & PIO
University Grant Commission,
Ministry of HRD,
Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg,
New Delhi - 110002