RTI Judgement Series: Display info about councillors fund on sign-boards in each ward office
Moneylife Digital Team 24 April 2013

Acting on a complaint, the CIC directed the MCD to display information on sign-boards about funds allotted to councillors and update the details of expenditure every six months. This is the 79th 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 a complaint, directed the chief engineer of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to ensure that the directions given by the Commission (to have sign-boards in the Hindi language displayed prominently) are complied with and send a compliance report.

 

While giving this judgement on 13 April 2012, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “...the Commission had given an order which was to be implemented over a year back. It is unfortunate that subsequently citizens went about monitoring this simple activity and found that the order had not been complied with properly. All government officers must feel ashamed if they are found wanting in simple activity of this nature.”

 

New Delhi resident Anjali Bhardwaj, along with 317 other citizens, filed a complaint to the Commission under Section 18 of the RTI Act.

 

The complaint stated that details of funds spent by the respective councillors of MCD should be available suo moto for the knowledge of citizens of the respective areas or wards.

 

Ms Bhardwaj stated that the 272 councillors of the MCD were allocated certain amount of funds each year, Rs2 crore in 2008-09, Rs50 lakh in 2009-10 and that Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act envisages that such information should be available in the public domain. She acknowledged that this information was available in English on the website of the GNCTD, however it cannot be accepted that the common man or a person of limited means has the resources or the knowledge of operating or availing such information through the website.

 

Furthermore, from 2007 till 2010 the department spent about Rs875 crore through the Councillor Funds, Ms Bhardwaj said.

 

The Right to Information is a fundamental right of the citizens, which has been codified by the RTI Act, No22 of 2005. The Act envisions that all citizens shall receive information primarily by suo moto disclosures by various public authorities as prescribed by Section 4 of the Act. It further envisages that citizens would be required to specifically ask for information under Section 6 only in a few cases. However, when public authorities do not fulfil their obligations under Section 4, citizens have no way but to seek information under Section 6, which in turn becomes a cost for the citizens as well as the government. Obligations under the Section were to be fulfilled by 12 October 2005 and five years have already lapsed since then, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted.

 

While allowing the complaint on 10 February 2011, the Commission directed the commissioner of MCD to install a sign-board of appropriate dimension, mentioning details of expenditure of the current as well as previous year of the councillor funds for that particular ward. The CIC also directed the MCD commissioner to send a compliance report by 25 March 2011.

 

On 27 May 2011, the CIC received a compliance report from the then chief engineer (QC) of MCD. In the meantime, the Commission also received several letters from citizens pointing out that the CIC's order was not complied by the MCD.

 

The Commission then initiated an inquiry in the matter. After conducting an inspection on 20 March 2012 and 23 March 2012, of various zones of the MCD, the CIC found that the concerned officers have failed to comply with its order.

 

Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, then issued a show-cause notice to assistant commissioners of all concerned zones and the chief engineer (QC). The Commission also asked them to appear before it along with the concerned officers, who were responsible for the non-compliance of its order.

 

During the hearing on 13 April 2012, several officers from the MCD admitted that there have been some shortfalls in putting up the boards. Mr Gandhi then pointed out that its order should have been implemented a year ago. The then chief engineer Ram Prakash submitted a letter to the CIC assuring that the order had been complied with. And yet it was found that the CIC order was not implemented in many wards.

 

Mr Gandhi while appreciating the efforts by officers like VP Dahiya, and Roshan Lal, noted that the boards in Ward no201, 203 and 204 at Central Zone, ward nos. 174, 176 and 171 South Zone, Ward no189 Chirag Delhi, ward no171 Vasant Kunj and ward no172 Kishan Garh were found to have been done well and meeting the promise made to citizens.

 

All officers present during the hearing then assured the Commission that all wards will have boards in the Hindi language displayed prominently where citizens can see them and that citizens will have no cause for complain on these.

 

They also committed to the Commission that the boards will be there in all 272 wards of Delhi before 1 May 2012. They have also agreed that in case they do not install the boards it would be reasonable for the Commission to impose penalties on the defaulting officers.

 

Mr Gandhi, then directed the chief engineer Ramesh Chand to ensure that the directions as given above are complied with before 1 May 2012 and send a compliance report to the Commission before 10 May 2012. 

 

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

 

Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2010/001291/11403Adjunct

https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SG_C_2010_001291_11403Adjunct_T_80375.pdf

Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2010/001291

 

Complainant                                                : Anjali Bhardwaj & 317 other Citizens,

                                                                            Delhi - 110 17

                                                           

Respondent                                                 : The Commissioner,

                                                                          Municipal Corporation of Delhi,                      

                                                                          Civic Centre, Minto Road,

                                                                           Delhi - 110 001

Comments
P M Ravindran
9 years ago
While Information Commissioners are often found soft pedalling on these kind of issues and dismissing appellants stating that the PIO can provide only available information in an as is where is form, this particular instance shows how the ICs can been assertive and tweek the ears of the public authorities.
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