CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Complaint No. CIC/WB/C/2007/00129 dated 28-3-2007 & Appeal No CIC/WB/A/2007/00671 dated 25.6.’07
Right to Information Act 2005 – Section 18
Complainant/Appellant: Ms. Gita Dewan Verma
Respondent: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC)
By an application of 22-2-2007 Ms. Gita Dewan Verma of Vasant Kunj, New Delhi applied to the PIO, DMRC seeking the following information:
|“I request inspection of all records of the DMRC consultancy for Kochi Metro.|
Please note that I had also sought information concerning the said consultancy in requests cited in my Complaint No. CIC/OK/C/2006/00049 dated 20.01.2006. Now that the project has been approved, no RTI exemption clauses whatsoever are invited.”
To this she received a response on 5-3-07 from Shri Anuj Dayal, CPRO & PIO, DMRC, addressed to the Secretary, Transport, (D) Department, Govt of Kerala as follows:
“We are, forwarding her request to you under Section 6 (3) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, for further necessary action and sending reply directly to the applicant under advice to this office. The requisite application fee has been deposited in this office.”
Upon this she moved an application before us complaining that the transfer took place on the 11th day besides which she had asked for all information held by DMRC and not only a DPR. In response to the appeal notice Shri Anuj Dayal, CPRO & PIO, DMRC has submitted a point wise reply. He has pleaded as follows:
“While it is true that the transfer of application took more than the 5 days stipulated under the RTI Act, it is humbly submitted that me Hon’ble Commission kindly take into consideration the unique nature of the case which caused the delay in transfer;’
and concluded his arguments as below:
“In view of the above, it is submitted that with regard to the complaint of the appellant dated 26.3.2007, there was no denial of information on the part of DMRC. When the applicant indicated that she wanted access to records other than the DPR of Kochi Metro, it was communicated to her that she may inspect the same.”
The complaint was heard on 2-6-08. The following are present:
Ms. Gita Dewan Verma.
Shri Anuj Dayal, CPIO.
Shri N. P. Singh, GM/ Legal.
Shri S. D. Sharma, CM/ Consultancy.
Shri Saikat Chakravarty, Am/PR.
Shri A. S. Rao, SO/L.
CPIO Shri Anuj Dayal submitted that all records available with the DMRC are open to inspection by appellant. Appellant on the other hand has submitted that the answer of PIO to her application was vague, and that she has not asked for DPR. Even if the DPRs were not available the remaining documentation could have been provided applying the principle of severability u/s 10 (1) even if the DPR was considered exempt from disclosure u/s 8 (1).
Ms. Gita Dewan Verma also submitted that she has submitted a further appeal under file No. CIC/WB/A/2007/00671 on 25.6.’07 after submitting the present complaint in which the original application is the same as the present one.
Whatever may have been the misunderstanding, which resulted in failure of inspection of the requisite files by Ms. Gita Dewan Verma, in the present case the DMRC has rightly agreed to allow her the inspection. The moot point remains as to whether a fee will now be charged. Under Section 7 (6) no fee may be charged where a public authority fails to comply with the time limit specified in sub section (1) of Section 7. Although respondents have successfully argued that the failure to provide the full inspection in the first instance has arisen from the genuine misunderstanding of what was wanted by the appellant, we find that her request was indeed for all documents whereas in the response of 5-3-07 from CPIO there is no mention of the case being transferred only because the DPR now belonged to the State Government. Whereas this is understandable in light of respondents’ explanation that it had been assumed, even if erroneously, that the DPR was what was sought and therefore this needed no mention in the letter of transfer, this failure, nevertheless, leads us to conclude that DMRC has failed to comply with the time limit mandated in Section 7 sub-section (1), and even though we have found reasonable cause for this failure which will exempt the CPIO from penalty, the information sought will still have to be supplied free of cost.
On the request of both parties we agreed also to examine file No. CIC/WB/A/2007/00671, although which raises the fresh question of disposal of the application in the appeal. The prayer in this 2nd appeal on the refusal of Govt of Kerala in response to the transfer from DMRC cited above to disclose the DPR under Sec 8(1) (d), a plea whereunder 1st appellate authority Shri CBK Rao Director DMRC dismissed the 1st appeal on 20.6.’07, pleaded as follows:
|“I request the Commission to kindly|
We find that the substantive conclusion arrived at above is valid in that appeal also. Both appeal and complaint stem from the same source-a misunderstanding that complainant/appellant Ms Verma was seeking to inspect the DPR, an option specifically ruled out in her prayer before us. This decision will also, therefore, apply to appeal No. CIC/WB/A/2007/00671.
The appeal and the complaint are disposed of accordingly. Reserved in the hearing, this Decision is announced in open chamber on 3-6-08.
Notice of this decision be given free of cost to the parties.
Chief Information Commissioner
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 K.P. Shreyaskar)