The first appeal erroneously was received by the PIO and it took 34 days to reach the FAA. Accepting its error in making the charge, the Commission apologised to the FAA. This is the 43rd in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
In an interesting case, the Central Information Commission (CIC) had charged the First Appellate Authority (FAA) for not passing an order in the matter within 45 days, the maximum limit under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. However, it was found that the FAA was not at fault since the Public Information Officer (PIO), took 34 days to forward the appeal.
While giving this judgement on 15 March 2010, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner offered his apologies to the FAA for making charge of Vishwa Mohan (the FAA) being ‘guilty of dereliction of duty”.
The appellant filed his first appeal on 20 October 2009, but the FAA passed an order only on 16 December 2009, after 45 days, the maximum time permitted under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Based on the information received, the CIC on 22 January 2010, said, “The FAA Vishwa Mohan, Joint Commissioner (Industries) is guilty of dereliction of duty since he had not passed an order in the matter within 45 days which is maximum time permission to give an order as per the RTI Act. Vishwa Mohan is directed to give an explanation to the Commission for his dereliction of duty before 15 February 2010.”
Delhi resident Harishankar Thakur sought information from the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) about aids given to help poor, destitute, blind and handicapped as per Society Registration no. (XXI) 1860. During the hearing, he told the Commission that he received the information only after the order was issued by the FAA. “Thus the second appeal was entirely unnecessary and was made only because of the delay on the part of Vishwa Mohan (FAA) who did not do his duty as per the RTI Act,” the Commission observed.
In a written and oral submission, the FAA stated that was an error on the part of the Commission to have held him ‘guilty’ without giving him an opportunity of hearing. In his reply he stated as below…
(i) He assumed charge as FAA only on 26 October 2009 and hence cannot be held responsible for actions before that.
(ii) A perusal of the records reveals that the RTI appeal was erroneously received by the PIO on 22 October 2009 and after travelling through some officers was received in the office of the FAA only on 26 November 2009.
(iii) On receipt of the appeal on 26 November 2009 he scheduled a hearing on 8 December 2009 which could not be held on that day since he was required to be present in the High Court of Delhi.
(iv) After hearing the matter he gave an order on 16 December 2009. Thus he had issued an order within 19 days of receiving the appeal in his office.
The FAA also requested the Commission to withdraw its charge of “dereliction of duty” against him and close that matter.
After considering the submission of the FAA, the Mr Gandhi, the CIC, said, “I erred in making the statement and should have given an opportunity to him to explain his actions before passing this observation.”
The Commission, said, based on the evidence given by Vishwa Mohan, it appeared that he was not guilty of any dereliction of duty by has actually performed his duty as FAA very diligently. “The appeal was erroneously received in the office of the PIO, from where it took 34 days to reach the FAA. Vishwa Mohan cannot be held accountable for this. The Commission accepts its error in making the charge of Vishwa Mohan being 'guilty of dereliction of duty' and withdraws it completely,” Mr Gandhi said in his decision.
Here is the information sought by Thakur from the Registrar of Society, GNCTD and the reply given by the PIO...
A. Whether any organization under Society Registration Act (XXI) 1860 can implement schemes which include financial transactions?
PIO's Reply- There is no such provision in the Act.
B. If yes. Then what is maximum amount permitted?
PIO's Reply- As stated above, there is no such provision in the Act.
C. Whether using gifted (Dan) amounts is permissible/approved under such schemes to organization namely ‘Utthan’?
PIO's Reply- No such information is available regarding reorganization and justification.
D. If not. Then under which rule such schemes can be implemented?
PIO's Reply- Companies Act, Chit Fund Society and Cooperative Society Act (Threft & Credit)
E. If such organizations are not doing their work as approved, then what action has been taken against such organizations?
PIO's Reply- Registrar of Societies is empowered to take any action against such society.
F. Whether 80 G certificate can be used for other such schemes?
PIO's Reply- No legal opinion can be given in this regard.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/003121/6529adjunct
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/003121
Appellant : Harishankar Thakur
New Delhi - 110059
Respondent : Public Information Officer
Govt. of NCT of Delhi
O/o the Registrar of Society,
Plot no. 419, FIE,
Patparganj Industrial Area,
Delhi - 110092
: First Appellate Authority
Jt. Commissioner of Industries
419, Udyog Sadan
FIE, Patparganj Industrial Area
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