Appeal No.CIC/WB/A/2006/00778 dated 6-10-2006
Appellant: Ms. Gita Dewan Verma
In her second appeal before us prayer of appellant Ms. Gita Dewan Verma of Vasant Kunj, New Delhi was as follows:
“a) admit this Appeal, being made after expiry of 90 days from the First Appeal Order dated 26-6-06, under proviso to section 19 (3), on Ground A hereinafter;
b) direct, on Ground B hereinafter, CPIO JS(UD) who had kindly agreed to reply to my queries vide his e-mail dated 19-2-06 (Annexure-2) and PIO Delhi Division with whose kind approval reply dated 10-5-2006 (Annexure-3) was sent to me to clarify in writing whether or not they had agreed to consider/ reply to my request dated 28-12-2005 under Section 4 (1) (d) and, if they had not, why had they not advised me to deposit processing fee;
c) direct, on Ground C hereinafter, JS (D&L) who decided my First Appeal dated 3-6-2006 by his Order dated 26-6-2006 to furnish in writing the following:
- confirmation that the communication dated 26-6-06 (Annexure-5) is his complete Order and, if it is not so, to furnish a copy of his complete Order;
- PIO’s justification for not providing in Reply dated 10-5-06 (Annexure-3) the excerpt from the affidavit of MoUD Secretary that was provided by First Appeal Order dated 26-6-06 (Annexure-5)
d) direct, on Ground D hereinafter JS (D&L) with whose approval Comments dated 22-6-06 were issued on my complaint CIC/WB/C/2006/00078 and who decided my First appeal dated 3-6- 06 by Order dated 26-6-06 to furnish a statement on oath as to:
- Why was my request for decision on my first appeal before my hearing by court order (made in context of MoUD, Respondent No.1, not having filed counter-affidavit despite orders dated 3 and 15 May 2006 in the court matter and even as JS (D&L) participated in the Board that heard me, was not granted;
- Why the fact of my first appeal dated 3-6-06 was suppressed in the comments dated 22-6-06 that justified the Reply dated 10-5- 06 and why the subsequent admittance of denial of information by PIO (that is implicit in the furnishing of the excerpt from affidavit of MoUD Secretary) in first appeal order dated 26-6-06 not brought to the notice of the Commission;
- Why was unclarity in paras 4 to 6 of my request dated 28-12- 2005 alleged in comments dated 22-6-2006 on my broader complaint but not in order dated 26-6-06 on my specific first appeal.
- What are the facts concerning para 4 to 6 of my request that decision dated 28-9-06 has held have been clarified by the Ministry;
- Why was the issue of non-payment of fee for my request dated 28-12-05 raised in his comments dated 22-6-06 on my broader complaint but not in order dated 26-6-06 on my specific first appeal.”
The second appeal was made in the context of an earlier complaint on the basis of an application of 28-12-05 in which we had directed by a decision of 28.9.’06 as follows:
“In this case, however, no fee has been paid for the application nor has the complainant, Ms. Gita Dewan Verma challenged this decision in her rejoinder. We cannot, therefore, hold the CPIO of the MoUD in violation of Section 7 of the RTI Act. Moreover, it is not clear what information has been sought by the complainant in paras 4, 5 and 6 of her original application to the CPIO, Shri M. Rajamani, detailed above. We agree with the arguments of the public authority that these are in the nature of statements and expressions of opinion and have, therefore, not been treated as request for information. For these reasons the complaint cannot be sustained.However, having accepted the arguments of the public authority as above, we are constrained to observe that as point out by the complainant, the MoUD is not in full compliance with Section 4 (1) (d). She has, in Annexure-A to her rejoinder also pointed out the gaps in information u/s 4 (1) (b) on the MoUD’s website. A copy of this rejoinder is appended with this decision. The MoUD would be well-advised to examine the suggestions made and adopt them in a manner facilitating public access to information under the RTI Act as mandated by Section 4 of the Act”.
In the meantime appellant had made an appeal to Shri O.P. Agarwal, OSD, MRTS on the basis of the response from Shri J.S. Dua, Under Secretary, Govt. of India to her application dated 28-12-‘05. This response received from Shri Dua on 10-5-06.has not dealt with the question of an affidavit mentioned in her original application
To this appeal she received a response on 26-6-06. Not satisfied with this response Ms. Gita Dewan Verma made a second appeal before us on 5-10-06. In their response to the appeal notice Shri S. Mukherjee, Under Secretary, MoUD has stated as follows:
“Para 3.1 Ms. Gita Dewan Verma has referred to her application dated 28-12-05 under Section 4 © and 4 (i) (d) of RTI Act sent to Shri M. Rajamani, JS via e-mail. She had sought information regarding details of schemes for Yamuna revival on Thames pattern as mentioned in an affidavit filed by Secretary (UD) before the Supreme Court and also details regarding relocation of slums to flats in the Tehkhand pilot project. A reply was sent to her on 10-5- 06 advising her to obtain details on both the matters from Delhi Jal Board and DDA (Annexure-VII). Her first stage appeal dated 3-6- 06 before the Appellate Authority was also considered by him and disposed off vide order dated 26-6-06 (Annexure VIII).
Para 3.2 In her second stage appeal she has raised certain procedural matters regarding responsibility for furnishing information under Section 4 (1) (d) of the RTI Act, not making self speaking order, etc. and insisted on getting the information from MoUD. Comments on these issues are given below:
Para 3.3: REVIVAL OF YAMUNA ON THAMES PATTERN: Secretary (UD) had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on 5-8- 2005 in WPC No. 725/1994 in the matter of “And Quiet Flows Mailli Yamuna vs. Central Pollution Control Board”. The affidavit was filed on the basis of Hon’ble Court’s direction dated 12-4-2005. The affidavit contained a para wherein the Hon’ble Court was apprised about suggestions of the technical experts for improvement of the quality of water of river Yamuna in the pattern of cleaning up of the quality of water in the river Thames of London. This was only one of the suggestions for cleaning of river Yamuna. Details regarding any scheme to be formulated on sewage treatment plant and related matters come under the purview of Delhi Jal Board i.e. another Public authority and the applicant was, therefore, advised to obtain the same from that Authority.Para 3.4 On the issue of relocation of slums in Tehkhand, Government has already accorded in-principle approval to DDA to take up a pilot project for construction of multi-storeyed tenements of EWS category. This issue has also been raised in other appeals filed by Ms. Verma and already dealt with in para 1.4”.
With this they have enclosed copies of the letters of 10-5-06, 26-6-06 and 22-6-06, the first letter being the response of Under Secretary Shri J.S. Dua, the second being the response to the appeal and the third being comments on the complaint pending before us at that time, upon which we were to give the Decision of 28.9.’06 quoted above.
The appeal was heard on 4-4-2007. The following are present:
- Ms. Gita Dewan Verma
- Dr. M.M. Kutty, JS MoUD
- Ms. Sujata Chaturvedi, Director (DD) MoUD, and present PIO
- Mr. P.K. Santra, U.S. (DD)
The appellant invited our attention to her prayer in the second appeal on which comments of appellate authority Shri Kutty, JS (DL) MoUD were given. In this context it was admitted by Shri Kutty, Joint Secretary that the quotation from the affidavit given in the order on the first appeal of 26-6-06 was indeed erroneous. To substantiate this point, Dr. Kutty presented the original order from the file which is a complete extract of the relevant portion quoted in the order conveyed to appellant where because of typographical error one line and part of the first sentence has been left out. Whereas the reply communicated reads as follows:
“for the relocation of slum dwellers the need for having a new strategy for relocation of slums in multi-storeyed tenements and in- situ rehabilitation of the affidavit”
The original order carrying the signature of the appellate authority reads as follows:
“For relocation of slum-dwellers, the need for having a new strategy for relocation of slums in multi-storeyed tenements and in-situ rehabilitation where feasible, using land as resource, has been explained in earlier part of the affidavit”
A copy of the full order from the file noting was, therefore, obtained in the hearing and placed on record. A copy was given to appellant Ms Verma Dr. Kutty had also explained in response to prayer (b) that they had no problem in providing information sought u/s 4 (1) (d) had it been held by them. In this case, however, the contradiction has crept in because although no fee was asked in the response neither to the application nor at the level of appeal the question of fee had been raised in the hearing of the complaint and has found place in the complaint decision of this Commission on 28-9-2006. This is admittedly an error in the response to the complaint notice. Although it had already clarified in the notice by the Ministry that the request was examined notwithstanding, and no fee was insisted upon.
On the question of (c) above, as described it was admitted that the communication dated 26-6-06 from Under Secretary did not incorporate the full details of the complete order, and a copy of this was, therefore, provided to appellant in the hearing.
However, appellant has argued that now she is in possession of the full affidavit through another source, well after it was required. The response to her application of 28-12-2005 was only given on 12-5-06 without reference to the affidavit which she had sought. No details of affidavit had been provided. Obviously, therefore in this case the question of fee has been raised to explain away the fact that the response to the application was well after the time limit prescribed u/s 7 (1).
Ms. S. Aparna then PIO, MoUD will therefore show cause either in writing or through personal appearance on 25-4-2007 at 10.00 a.m. as to why a penalty @ Rs.250/- per day to a maximum of Rs.25, 000/- should not be imposed on her for the delayed period in supplying the information sought.
As for the remaining points raised in (d) of the 2nd appeal and sub point (i) to (vi) these are supplementary questions raised on issues such as why and what in the processing of her application of 28.12.’05. Appellate authority Shri Kutty may examine whether there are any records held in this regard, which can then be provided to appellant Ms Verma.
Announced in the hearing. 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.