CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

Right to Information Act, 2005 – Sec. 19

Appeal No. CIC/WB/A/2006/00184
Dated: 7.5.2006

Appellant : Smt. Gita Dewan Verma

Respondent : Lt. Governor’s Sectt.

Facts:

Vide e-mail letter of 28.12.2005 applicant Ms. Gita Dewan Verma asked PIO, Lieutenant Governor (hereinafter referred to as LG), Delhi’s Secretariat for information u/s 4 of the RTI Act on action taken in compliance of directions issued to the LG in three judgments of the Delhi High Court. This application was transferred by Email to Vice Chairman, DDA “for appropriate action”. Accordingly, Dy. Director, DDA informed the applicant Ms. Verma on 7.2.2006 that her request had been sent to the concerned PIO. In the meantime appellant converted her request u/s 4 to request u/s 6 made to DDA on 30.1.06. On not receiving a satisfactory reply to her application and reminders Ms. Gita Dewan Verma appealed to the Appellate Authority in the L.G’s Sectt. on 3.4.06. Shri G.S.Patnaik , Secy. to Lt. Governor and Appellate Authority responded on 25.4.2006 indicating that the appeal filed by her contains issues pertaining to DDA and her first appeal should, therefore, lie with the first Appellate Authority of DDA.

The Appeal was heard before us on 7.8.2006. Appellant Ms. Gita Dewan Verma is present together with PIO Shri V.P.Rao, Addl. Secy. and PS to Lt. Governor and Ms. Aparna Raghurao of DDA. Appellant Ms. Verma reiterated that although the DDA was not the principal Public Authority in all three High Court cases, the Office of L.G. had transferred these cases even though the High Court orders were addressed to Lt. Governor in his capacity as Chairman of DDA and Head of Administration. To this respondent Shri Rao replied by inviting attention to the original application which was received by Email but mentioned in each of the judgments the name of the appellant vs. DDA and others, without mentioning who the others were. Since the LG’s Secretariat does not retain the files which are submitted for consideration of the LG, the PIO in the LG’s Sectt. had no way of knowing which other organization would be the appropriate authority to which the matter could be transferred u/s 6(3). He had, therefore, transferred this to the Vice Chairman, DDA, who in turn would decide which PIO would provide the requisite information. Ms. Verma argued that this matter could have been clarified in the appeal, and the matter resolved. There would then have been no need for a second appeal. The representative of the DDA on the other hand indicated that they were unable to give a response to the appellant because they were unable to trace the cases cited by her and were, therefore, unable to provide a response. In one case, however, Delhi Science Forum vs. DDA which primarily concerns the DDA, the concerned PIO had been identified and the information would be provided, as requested.

It was also clarified during the hearing that even though appellant had not paid any fee in making application to LG’s Secretariat that office had not insisted on any fee but had processed the matter further which should testify to the earnestness of the LG’s office and without any malafide.

We have examined the file. This appears to have been generally a case of failure of communication. Although the public authorities involved were three, i.e. M.C.D., Metro Rail Corporation and DDA, this cannot be deduced from the documents on file.

DECISION NOTICE

The Lt. Governor’s office being a nodal office overseeing the administration of various organizations of public administration in Delhi, is not the keeper or custodian of records and information with regard to all these, even in those cases where files are submitted to that office for consideration of LG. After such consideration together with the decisions made, the files are returned to the primary public authority from which they had emanated. The information, therefore, can only be accessed through those public authorities u/s 6(3). The transfer was, therefore, justified. However, because of the confusion in the identity of principal public authorities mentioned above, the request could not be processed within the stipulated time frame.

LG’s office will provide to the appellant the number and date of the correspondence under which the decisions at each of these cases together with the orders issued by the Lt. Governor were transferred to the concerned public authorities. The appellant has requested that this be provided under oath, which is agreed.

Lt. Governor’s office is advised to place on its website information relating to practice and process so as to enable ease of access to information by the citizens of Delhi, without recourse to application through the LG’s Secretariat. Appellant has offered to help in devising a citizen friendly format for this purpose.

Because no adverse intent could be deduced in the processing of this request for reasons mentioned above, no penalty is imposed. However, the office of the LG is advised to accept and process applications including after the level of first appeal in accordance with sections 7 and 19 of the Act in matters of direct concern to that office, which will become clear once the website is redesigned as directed.

Notice of this decision be given free of cost to the parties.

(Wajahat Habibullah)
Chief Information Commissioner
7/8/2006

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:

(L.C. Singhi)
Additional Registrar
7/8/2006