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2007 Right to Information Act 2005 – Section 19
Appellant Respondent Facts:
Shri Banshi Dhar Ministry of Defence (MoD)
Shri Banshi Dhar of the Ordnance Factory Cell, Ministry of Defence made a request to Shri Alok Perti, JS & CPIO, Ministry of Defence on 1.12.06 seeking the following information: 1. “The reasons for not taking the SRO 133/79 in to account while accepting/ processing the DPC proposals for effecting the promotions to the post of Dy. Manager/ DADG in the years 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 and onwards. 2. The level at which the decision was taken to delete the Staff Officer as feeder grade in the DPC proposals. 3. Is so, a copy of such decision or amendment SRO may be made available to me. 4. If not, it is a case of misleading the DPC by suppression of facts. In such a situation, what corrective measures the M of D proposes to implement the SRO or safeguard the career prospects of Staff Officer lost for 18 years by not adhering to the service rules by omissions or intentionally. 5. In a recent communication by M of D vide ID No. 15(8)/97-D (Fy-1) dated 23.02.2006 to OFB, the posts of Staff Officer have been termed as isolated posts and if so, what action the M of D has taken in last 14 years to encadre the 14 posts of Staff Officers with organized cadre of IOFS in accordance with DOP&T OM No. AB 14017/82-Estt. RR dated 16.10.1992 referred by M of D vide ID No. 1512/ D (Fy-1) dated 4.11.92. 6. What action the M of D has taken to implement the decision taken in the office of Additional Secretary/ DP on 30.5.91 to merge the post of Staff Officer with IOFS.”
To this he received a response dated3.1.07 from Mr. V. Saraswathy Dy. Secy. (P) answering the questions Para wise as below: “(1) (2) & (3) Records are not available (4) & (5) The question of the appellant is intended to elicit answers on the proposed action by the Government. Such queries on proposed action, nature of action etc. raised by the applicant does not fall under the category of information as defined in Sec. 2(f) of the Act. (6) Yes, a meeting was held in the office of Additional Secretary / DP on 30.5.1991 to merge the post of Staff Officer with IOFS. The query raised by the appellant is not covered by the sec. 2(f) of the RTI Act.” Aggrieved by this response Shri Banshi Dhar then moved his first appeal before Shri P.K. Rastogi, Addl. Secretary DP & First Appellate Authority pleading that “the information sought for is very much specific as may be seen from my application but the CPIO has failed to provide any of the information”. He also made some observations on the manner in which the response of CPIO Mr. Saraswathy had been provided. Upon this First Appellate Authority Shri P.K. Rastogi found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed the same on 31.1.07. Shri Dhar has, therefore, moved his second appeal before us with the following prayer: “The Honour is very humbly requested to intervene in the matter and issue directives to the Ministry of Defence / Ordnance Factory Board to provide me the information as asked in my application dt. 1.12.2007.” The appeal was heard on 24.1.08. The following are present: Appellant Shri Banshi Dhar Shri T. P. Narainmurthy Respondents Shri Hazari Lal Director Shri V. Saraswathy DS (P) Shri D. Majumdar, Director
Shri B. Pattanaik, Director Respondents submitted that whatever documents are held by them has in fact been provided but that the DPC records for the years 1979 to 1983 are not held by them having been destroyed under the regular rules of the Ministry. This was contested by Appellant Shri Banshi Dhar who argued that SROs and their amendments cannot be destroyed. Similarly, respondents admitted that while a decision was indeed made in the meeting of 30.5.1991 to merge the post of Staff Officer with IOFS, it was subsequently decided not to proceed with this recommendation.
It is correct that, as argued by appellant Shri Banshi Dhar, u/s 2 (f) of the RTI Act ‘opinion’ is disclosable, but the definition of information under this sub section of section 2 clearly lays down that information means that the information must be in the form of “any material”. Therefore, any ‘opinion’ to be provided must be recorded opinion. By the same argument, if there is no recorded opinion on a particular subject on which information has been sought, the CPIO is required to inform the applicant that there is no such record. Similarly, if no action has been taken on a decision in a meeting held in the office of Addl. Secretary on 30.5.91 on which it has been subsequently decided not to implement the decision, this is required to be conveyed in response to the question (6) of appellant Shri Banshi Dhar. It is entirely incorrect to state that
such information is not covered by section 2(f) since this will clearly constitute the ‘right to information’ as defined u/s 2(j), which allows for accessibility to any information “which is held by or under the control of any public authority”. We also find that 1st Appellate Authority Shri P.K. Rastogi in dismissing the appeal of Shri Banshi Dhar has failed to apply his mind. Instead of addressing the information sought by appellant Shri Banshi Dhar in his original application,
he has only addressed the observations of Shri Banshi Dhar made in his appeal of 9.1.07 on the manner of disposal of that application by CPIO and come to the conclusion that the appellant has only expressed his views and not sought any information.
In light of the above, the order of Shri P.S. Rastogi, Addl. Secretary (DP) and First Appellate Authority dated 31.1.07 is set aside. CPIO, Dep’t. Of
Defence Production, Ministry of Defence Shri V. Saraswathy, Dy. Secretary (P) is directed to give a point wise response to the information sought by appellant Shri Banshi Dhar in his application of 1.12.06. If no such decision as sought has been taken regarding a question raised by appellant in any of his six questions, the appellant Shri Banshi Dhar will be required to be informed accordingly.
The appeal is, therefore, allowed. CPIO will now provide the required response, with information as held by the public authority, to appellant Shri Banshi Dhar within fifteen working days of the date of issue of this Decision Notice under intimation to Shri Pankaj K.P.Shreyaskar, Jt. Registrar of this Commission. Because the information was not provided within the time limit specified, it will now be provided free of cost u/s 7(6) of the RTI Act.
Notice of this decision be given free of cost to the parties.
(Wajahat Habibullah) Chief Information Commissioner 25.1.2008 Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against application and payment of the charges, prescribed under the Act, to the CPIO of this Commission.
(Pankaj KP Shreyaskar) Joint Registrar 25.1.2008