RTI Judgement Series: Non-cooperation between government departments leading to encroachments
Moneylife Digital Team 27 May 2013

Various departments in Delhi went around stating that they feel it was an illegal encroachment but did not make any comment, leaving the appellant and the CIC wondering whether there was any governance structure at all. This is the 100th 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 expressing displeasure over the passing on the responsibility and lack of coordination in sharing information between government departments, directed the commissioner for planning at the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to share the layout plan of with Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) at Punjabi Bagh, Nangloi in Delhi.


While giving this judgement on 15 September 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “The Commission is aghast at the complete absence of any coordination amongst various government officers even when a citizen points out an encroachment. This method of complete non-cooperation and refusal to give each other adequate information shows the reason why encroachers and illegal activities can thrive and the government is unable to deliver the most basic requirements.”


New Delhi resident Vijay Kumar, on 24 August 2007 sought information regarding encroachment of public land from the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). Here is the information he sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act...


1. Whether any action has been taken to remove the illegal encroachment of and by Jyotish Karyalay at the T-point of Rohtak Road and Shiv Mandir Road, Madipur, New Delh-63 located at the north-east corner of the boundary wall of DDA SFS Flats (Punjabi Bagh Apartments), opposite Arihant Nagar, New Delhi-63, and to reclaim the public land on which the encroachment is constructed.

2. If any action has been taken to remove the said illegal encroachment, the same may please be intimated.

3. If no action has been taken so far, the reason thereof may be informed.

4. It may also be intimated as to when the action to remove the illegal encroachment and reclaiming the public land will be taken.


In his reply, the PIO of MCD stated, “It is to inform you that the matter pertains to Public Works Department (PWD). The copy of the same has been sent to the secretary of the PWD for sending information directly to the applicant under intimation to this office.”


Vijay Kumar then filed his first appeal. In his order, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) said, “The matter pertains to the PWD and the application has already been sent to secretary (PWD), the appellant has been asked to approach the concerned department for seeking information.”


The RTI application was shunted around. The only information was provided by the executive engineer (EE) at the Flyover Project Division at PWD (NCTD), Nangloi in Delhi on 1 July 2008. He stated, "It is intimated that though the above mentioned property appears to be constructed illegally on public land, the said property holder has produced some documents in support of his claim for the land. The documents produced by him are being sent to the revenue department to check the authenticity of the documents, in case the encroachment is proved the same will be removed.”


The EE sent this reply to SDM at Punjabi Bagh, Nangloi.


Not satisfied with the reply, Vijay Kumar then approached the Commission with his second appeal.


During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, observed that this was a classic case of how there was an absolute vacuum with respect to knowledge or willingness to identify responsibility for illegal encroachments. “Various departments have gone around stating that they feel it is an illegal encroachment but cannot make any comment. The respondents from land revenue state that DDA should has the records, whereas the DDA representative states that this information is with the revenue department. The appellant is left wondering whether there is any governance structure at all,” he noted.


He then directed the EE of Flyover Projects to send copies of documents produced by the land holder (as mentioned in his letter on 1 July 2008) to Vijay Kumar and the Commission before 30 April 2009.


The CIC, while allowing the appeal, also directed MS Agarwal of the DDA to give a copy of the layout plan superimposed on the Sirza to VP Mishra, Tehsildar at Punjabi Bagh. “...Agarwal and Mishra will give a joining report explaining whether the charge of encroachment is true and identify who has the information. This report will be sent to the appellant and the Commission before 5 May 2009,” it said.


During the hearing, Agarwal from the DDA showed some notings from a file which seem to indicate that the land belongs to DDA and there is an illegal encroachment. A photocopy of the file was given to Vijay Kumar, the appellant, Mishra, the tehsildar from Punjabi Bagh and the Commission.


However, the Commission did not receive any report from the PIOs. Vijay Kumar also on 22 June 2009 informed the CIC that he had not received any report as directed by the Commission and the DDA and the tehsildar were placing the responsibility on each other.


The tehsildar, in a letter on 4 May 2009 to the CIC stated that plan has not been provided to him as directed by the Commission and therefore he was unable to take any further action on this matter.


During the hearing Agarwal from the DDA showed some file notings which seemed to indicate that the land belongs to the DDA. However, the deputy director for land management at west zone had informed the Commission vide letter dated 4 May 2009 the concerned property does not fall under the jurisdiction of the DDA.


Since it was not clear to which public authority the concerned land belongs to, the Commission decided to initiate an enquiry in the matter under Section 18(2) of the RTI Act.


During the hearing on 15 September 2009, nine officers from PWD, DDA and MCD were present. All the officers universally proclaimed that none of them knew anything about this plot of land.


After hearing this, AK Gupta, EE of PWD stated that he was aware that it (the land) was encroached but was unable to get any help from other departments in terms of information to prove the encroachment.


Ashish, SDM, at Punjabi Bagh stated that for the want of layout plan the identification is held up. He stated that if the layout plan is provided, he would be able to give the information whether it is an encroachment or not within a day.


Ajay Gautam, EE of MCD stated that it is in the right of way of the PWD and MCD has nothing to do with while Chandrama Shah, deputy director of DDA stated that the layout plan would be available with DDA, Planning.


Expressing anguish over the lack of coordination amongst various government departments, Mr Gandhi said this method complete non-cooperation and refusal to give each other adequate information shows the reason why encroachers and illegal activities can thrive.


He then directed Alok Kumar, the commissioner for planning at DDA to send the layout plan of this area to Ashish, the SDM of Punjabi Bagh before 23 September 2009. “Ashish will then ensure that the information is sent to the appellant (Vijay Kumar) within seven days of receiving the layout plan. Ashish will also send a compliance report to the Commission before 10 October 2009 and inform the EE, PWD,” the CIC said in its order.




Decision No. CIC /SG/A/2008/00159/2835Adjunct


Appeal No. CIC/ SG/A/2008/00159



Appellant                                            : Vijay Kumar,

                                                            New Delhi


Respondents                                               : 1. BP Mishra

                                                                Tehsildar (PB)

                                                                Office of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate

                                                                Punjabi Bagh, Main Rohtak Road

                                                                Nangloi, Delhi 110041


                                                            2. Dy. Director (LM) WZ

                                                                Delhi Development Authority

                                                                Lands Management (WZ)

                                                                Subhash Nagar, Delhi 110018


                                                            3. Asst. Commissioner (WZ) & PIO

                                                                Municipal Corporation of Delhi

                                                                West Zone, School Building

                                                                Vishal Enclave, Rajouri Garden

                                                                New Delhi 110027


                                                            4. ADM(West) & PIO

                                                                Govt. of NCT of Delhi

                                                                Old School Complex

                                                                Lawrance Road, Ram Pura

                                                                New Delhi 110035


                                                            5. Secretary & PIO

                                                                Public Works Dept, GNCTD

                                                                Delhi Secretariat, I.P. Estate,

                                                                New Delhi 110002

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