In an important order, the Central Information Commission asked MCD to provide all information about banquet halls operating in the city, whether they are licensed and number of challans issued against them. This is the 44th 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, asked the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to provide all information about banquet halls operating in the city, whether they are licensed and number of challans issued against them to the applicant and also update the same on the MCD portal.
While giving this important judgement on 3 February 2010, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, said, “The Commission feels that the citizen has brought up a very valid issue and it is surprising that MCD claims it does not have centralized information on the number of banquet halls in Delhi and how many are licensed. This is one of the basic duties of a Municipal Corporation.”
Delhi resident S Chandra sought information about banquet halls particularly in residential areas from MCD. Here is the information sought by him...
1. Whether the MCD has fixed norms for allowing operation of banquet halls in the areas falling within the municipal limits of Delhi? If so the same may be indicated. If the norms have not been fixed kindly intimate the time the norms are likely to be finalized.
2. Whether MCD has permitted for operation of banquet halls in residential areas? If yes, the conditions governing such authorization may be intimated.
3. Whether any license is issued to owners of banquet halls for operation of that? If so, please intimate the authority which issues the licenses and conditions on which license is issued.
4. List of banquet halls which have been granted permission by MCD to operate within the Municipal limits.
5. How many banquets halls are operating in the residential areas in municipal limits of Delhi?
6. How many banquets halls are operating in the residential areas in Municipal limits of Delhi without permission of the MCD and what action has been taken against the owners of those Banquet Halls during past one year?
7. How many banquets halls are operating in Shahdra South District? Please give the list of those ones.
8. What preventive steps have been taken by the concerned district authority to check operation of such unauthorized banquet Halls in the past one year?
9. What preventive action has been taken by concerned district authority to check operation of such unauthorized banquet halls in past one year? MCD is requested to indicate number of Banquet halls located in residential areas on roads having width less than 60 feet in Shahdra South District and are in operation in violation of judgments of various court orders. What action has been taken against the owners of those banquet Halls who are violating court orders during past one year?
10. MCD commissioner is requested to intimate the direction issued to the zonal officer (Shahdra South Zone) for taking action against the owners who have been violating the court orders during past one year.
Since the information sought was concerned with different PIO, the applicant received several replies. Here are the replies provided by various PIOs...
PIO/SE-II Shahdra South Zone replied as under:
In regard of query 1, it was stated that the development control norms are available in the Master Plan of Delhi 2021 which is a public document and can be had from any book shop. In regard of queries no2 to 7 & 10 the list was provided as the copy is enclosed. In regard of query no8 the PIO replied that the action is being taken by the concerned department and in regard of query no9 the reply was that information is not available in this office.
Reply by PIO/Deputy Health Officer, Central Zone as under:
1. Banquet Halls are allowed in commercial and industrial areas.
2. Banquet halls are not permitted in residential area.
3. Health Department has not granted any license to any banquet hall in residential areas.
4. Not applicable.
5. No banquet hall is operating in residential areas in the Central Zone.
6. Reply as in query no5.
In regard of queries no. 7 to 10, it was stated that the information does not relate to the Health Department, Central Zone.
Reply by PIO/Deputy Health Commissioner, Shahadra North Zone:
In regard of queries no1 & 2 the information pertains to HQ. In regard of queries no3 to 6 as reply was given as by PIO, Central zone. In regard of queries no7, 9 & 10 the information does not relate to the Health Department of this zone.
In regard of query no 8 instructions were given to PHIs for during the prosecutions of unauthorized and unlicensed banquet halls time to time.
Reply by PIO/SE-I, South Zone, Green Park:
The information does not relate to the concerned department.
Chandra, not satisfied with the replies received from the PIOs, filed his first appeal with the First Appellate Authority (FAA). In an order, the FAA directed the PIOs to provide complete information on query nos8, 9 and 10 as the appellant was not satisfied.
Chandra, seeking a direction for the Commissioner, MCD, to provide complete and definite information in place of piece meal responses provided by Zonal officers, then approached the CIC with his second appeal.
During a hearing, Mr Gandhi, the CIC, noted that in the traditional method of MCD it appears that 50 to 80 officers must have got involved in terms of transferring papers and initialling on them. The RTI application appears to have reached the 12 zones and the Health Department after being transferred multiple times, he observed.
The CIC said, “The information provided by Shahdara South Zone is very revealing since it shows that there are 38 banquet halls operating out of which 35 are without any license and the three which has been ad hoc registrations are in residential areas which the Dy. Health Officer Dr Ajay Handa states is not permissible."
“It is also revealing that in the one year it appears not a single challan has been issued in this zone for serving food in these banquet halls without a license. If the MCD does not wish to regulate this activity it would serve a social purpose better if it decided to remove all licensing norms. This might results in lesser contempt for the law,” the Commission said.
While allowing the appeal by Chandra, the CIC then directed Dr Handa, Deputy Health Officer of Shahdara South to collect the information from all the zones about the names and addresses of banquet halls, whether they are licensed and number of challans issued against them in 2009 and also put up the information on MCD website before 28 February 2010.
The Commission also asked the PIO to ensure that information about challans issued against unlicensed banquet hall will be updated every day. “The PIO will also ensure that the regulations for the banquet halls are put up on the website. This direction is being given and the MCD must comply with it in discharge of its obligation under Section 4 of the RTI Act,” Mr Gandhi said in his order.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/003226
Appellant : S Chandra,
Respondent : 1. Harminder Singh
APIO & EE (HQ)
Municipal Corporation of Delhi
Town Hall Chandani Chowk,
2. Pushkar Sharma
Shah South Zone,
Municipal Corporation of Delhi
Kakardooma Court, New Delhi
3. Dr Hazarika
Municipal Corporation of Delhi
Central Zone, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi
4. Dr Ajay Handa
PIO/Dy. Health Officer,
Shah, North Zone, MCD
Keshav Chowk, Shahdara, Delhi
5. Pradeep Khandelwal
South Zone, MCD
Green Park, New Delhi
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