The PIO first erred in refusing to accept an IPO in the name of accounts officer and later refused to provide the information stating that investigation was not over. The CIC refused both the claims. This is the 147th 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 Public Information Officer (PIO) at the Vigilance Directorate in Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) to provide the preliminary inquiry report to the appellant. The Bench also directed the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) to assess whether an inquiry, which should be completed one month, according to his assessment, should be allowed to drag on indefinitely.
While giving this judgement on 18 May 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “...after nine months, the PIO states that the investigation is not over as yet. This means that the CVO's direction to complete the investigation in one month was being completely flouted.”
Attingal (Trivandrum, Kerala) resident Suresh Kumar Mishal, on 22 September 2010, sought information copy of the vigilance report, all statements, action taken, discrepancies found based on a complaint filed by Shimna P from the PIO. Here is the information he sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act...
A complaint had been filed by Ms Shimna P, before Rajeev Kumar, Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) and K Ganesh Babu, Vigilance Division, RPFC-I. Santosh Kumar, assistant director of Vigilance on behalf of the CVO by a letter of 27 July 2010, directed K Gurumurthy, deputy director, ZVD (South Zone) to investigate and submit a report within a month. With regard to this, Mishal sought information on 11 points, seeking the copy of the vigilance report, all statements, action taken and discrepancies found.
The PIO said since Mishal's Indian postal order (IPO) was not in favour of Central PF Commissioner, New Delhi, the RTI application was not valid. Mishal then sent a fresh IPO as per the PIO's demand. After that the PIO, on 16 November 2010, replied saying that information in the matter can be provided only after completion of investigation or enquiry.
Citing no reply from the PIO, the appellant filed his first appeal. In his order the First Appellate Authority (FAA) said, "The case is reported to be under investigation by ZVD South Zone and any divulgence of information at this stage may impede the process of investigation."
Mishal then approached the CIC with his second appeal. He stated, the order from the CVO on 27 July 2010 had directed to submit the investigation report within one month; therefore, the investigation should have been completed by August.
During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted that Mishal was seeking information regarding an investigation order by the CVO on 27 July 2010, based on a complaint lodged by Ms Shimna and the CVO had clearly ordered that the investigation should be completed within one month and the report should be sent.
He said, the PIO first erred in refusing to accept an IPO in the name of accounts officer and asked Mishal to send another IPO in the name of Central PF Commissioner, New Delhi. "This is contrary to the rules framed by the Central Government under the RTI Act. The rules clearly provide that applicants should send drafts or IPOs favouring accounts officer of the public authority," Mr Gandhi said.
The Bench noted that even after the appellant sent the fresh IPO, the PIO informed him that information would not be supplied to him until the investigation was over. "This is clearly violation of the law as no claim had been made (by the PIO) as to how providing the information would impede the process of investigation," it said.
Mr Gandhi said, "The CVO had ordered in July that investigation should be over in one month i.e. by end-August. However, after nine months the respondent states that the investigation is not over as yet. This means that the CVO's direction to complete the investigation in one month is being completely flouted."
While allowing the appeal, the Bench directed the PIO to provide the preliminary inquiry report and whatever information is presently available on the records to the appellant before 5 June 2011. The Bench also directed the CVO to assess whether an inquiry, which should be completed in one month, according to his assessment, should be allowed to drag on indefinitely, and send his findings to the CIC and Mishal before 20 June 2011.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2011/000452/12429
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2011/000452
Appellant : Suresh Kumar Mishal,
Attingal, PO Trivandrum,
Respondent : Sharad Singh
Public Information Officer & RPFC-I
EPFO, Ministry of Labour,
14, Bikaji Cama Place,
New Delhi 110066
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