Commissioner ignores Appellant’s written submissions before issuing orders.

MK Gupta

When an appellant (include complainant) does not get information from a Public Authority, he approaches the CIC hoping to get the same. But whether all the applicants get justice in accordance with the RTI Act.

I, as an appellant, filed an RTI for getting some information from All India Radio and in return, Shri D.K. Das, PIO replied that I am seeking information, which he feels is not needed by me. On filing first appeal against this, the First Appellate Authority confirmed his decision. Appellant filed an appeal before the Central Information Commission and Ms. Annapurna Dixit, Hon’ble Information Commissioner heard the case on 27th April wherein the Appellant and Mr. Ashok Chaitanya, advocate, Delhi High Court were present. Information Commissioner directed the CPIO to provide the information and reply within 15 days why a penalty should not be imposed on him for not providing the information? In the meantime, Appellant obtained a copy of PIO’s reply to the CIC by filing an RTI with the PIO.

Finding that the reply of the PIO has grossly misrepresented and twisted the facts, Appellant filed a rejoinder to the reply of PIO to the Information Commissioner praying for considering his submissions while issuing order on the Show Cause Notice. The receipt of rejoinder to CIC was duly confirmed by Shri G. Subramanian, Asstt. Registrar, on deputation from the office of the Public Authority.

On receiving the copy of the order on the Show Cause Notice, the Appellant was surprised to note that the fact of submitting any rejoinder by the Applicant has not found any place in the order leave aside considering the submissions made therein.

The order issued by the Information Commissioner has some apparent mistakes on the face of the record. While the Appeal was against the denial of information and the “Show Cause Notice” was issued to explain the denial, the order has dropped the penalty proceeding condoning the delay in replying the RTI application, a non-existing issue. Not considering the rejoinder of the Appellant despite his unambiguous prayer is against the principal of natural justice and the order has become one-sided based on the distorted and incorrect facts provided by the PIO.

Now, the Appellant has prayed by filing a review application to issue fresh order after giving due consideration to the facts mentioned by him in his rejoinder and to ascertain whether the Appellant’s rejoinder was brought to the knowledge of the Information Commissioner by the staff.

Sub-section (xv) of Section 4 (Power and functions of the Registrar) states “The Registrar shall be responsible for ensuring compliance of the orders, directions or decisions passed by the Commission and to take all necessary steps in this regards, despite this, the Appellant had to meticulously follow for the reply of the Show Cause Notice and for knowing the status of the case by filing three-RTI applications before the CIC. “However, in the interest of justice, three extensions were granted” to the PIO for furnishing response by him and after this, the order on the Show Cause Notice was pronounced on 29th January, 2010 absolving him.

In the case of Mujibur Rehman V/s. CIC, Hon. Justice Ravindra Bhat of Delhi High Court ruled that once it is established that the Tribunal (read CIC) for no apparent reason, either exceeded its jurisdiction or failed to exercise jurisdiction lawfully vested in it, the High Court would be justified in interfering with its order. High Court is right in itself but the question is how many appellant have the time and resources to approach the High Court for challenging such erroneous orders?