1. Wildrift Adventures, an established eco-tourism firm with offices in Uttaranchal and Delhi, made two RTI applications (nos. 485 and 486) to the DDA on 02-Dec-2005 in the following context:
    • (a) Mr Manoj Chaudhry, MD, Wildrift Adventures, had filed objections / suggestions in response to DDA's Public Notices of 18-Sep-2004 and 08-April-2005 for, respectively, IT Park on the riverbed and draft MPD-2021. Both Public Notices were published under signature of Pr.Commissioner-cum-Secretary and both responses were addressed to him.
    • (b) Mr Chaudhry was not called for hearing on his response to IT Park Public Notice, but was called for hearing of his response on MPD-2021 by letter dated 29-Nov-2005 from office of Director-MPPR, on 03-Dec-2005. Mr Chaudhry was not in Delhi at the time and Mr Balbir Singh of Wildrift Adventures visited the office of Director-MPPR on 02-Dec-2005 with a letter to request rescheduling and reasonable prior intimation.
    • (c) In this letter was also sought information for making presentation, viz, about hearing proceedings (guidelines/rules, panel/board, time scheduling, etc) and about suggestions already rejected in disposal of IT Park Public Notice (so as not to press the same at MPD-2021 hearing). For this Mr Singh also filed two separate RTI requests (No.485 and 486) at office of Director-MPPR the same day.
  2. Pursuant to letter and RTI applications deposited on 02-Dec-2005, Mr Balbir Singh received the following communications:
    • (a) In reply to request no.485 PIO & Director-MPPR, Mr PV Mahashabdey informed Mr Singh by letter of 14-Dec-2005 that Rules and Notifications about Board for MPD-2021 Public Notice could be collected by paying Rs.2/- per page and about dates on which the Board had met.
    • (b) In reply to request no.486 Mr Mahashabdey informed Mr Singh by letter of 13-Dec-2005 that it had been forwarded to concerned PIO, Director-DC. By letter of 29-Dec-2005 PIO & Director-DC, Mr BK Jain, informed Mr Singh that it had been forwarded to concerned PIO, Director-RYP. By letter of 10-Jan-2006 PIO & Director-RYP, Mr PM Parate, informed Mr Singh that "objection / suggestion filed by Sh. Chaudhry was considered by the Authority while approving the change of landuse".
    • (c) Meanwhile, on 12-Jan-2006 Mr Balbir Singh received invitation dated 10-Jan-2006 from office of Director-MPPR for hearing on 16-Jan-2006 for MPD-2021 Public Notice, even as he had not filed a response to it. Mr Chaudhry wrote, by e-mail, to Mr Mahashabdey on 13-Jan-2006 to clarify this and that he was waiting for reply to the other RTI request, which his office received later that day.
  3. Instead of meaningful answers to the two RTI requests, Mr Balbir Singh has got an invitation for hearing of MPD-2021 response that he has not filed. The other letters display infirmities in terms of RTI Act. For instance:
    • (a) Reply dated 14-Dec-2005 to request no.485 specified for fee for Rules and Notifications per-page rate of Rs.2/ rather than computed amount that is liable to be specified under s.7(3)(a). It also did not specify why Rules and Notifications were not published on DDA website under s.4(1)(b)(v) and (viii) or that RTI requests for this had been received. (Board details were published).
    • (b) Intimations of 13-Dec-2005 and 29-Dec-2005 about transfer of request to other PIOs were not strictly warranted by s.6(3) and the transfers themselves were delayed beyond the 5-days permissible under s.6(3)(ii).
    • (c) Reply dated 10-Jan-2006 simply stated, in effect, that the Authority had rejected the IT Park Public Notice response of Mr Chaudhry without providing reasons even as the same are liable to be provided to Mr Chaudhry under s.4(1)(d), especially in view of his response to MPD-2021 Public Notice.
    • (d) While Mr Balbir Singh received letters from 3 PIOs on his RTI requests about Public Notice response of Mr Manoj Chaudhry, Mr Chaudhry received no intimation / third party notice under s.11(1) from any of them.
  4. Mr PM Parate's reply dated 10-Jan-2006 is inconsistent with averments made by Mr BK Jain in his counter-affidavits dated 21-Jul-2005 and 18-Oct-2005 on behalf of DDA in WP(C) 6500/2005 (Gita Dewan Verma v/s DMRC & Ors):
    • (a) Whereas Mr PM Parate has said that the response "was considered by the Authority", Mr BK Jain has deposed that it was considered and decided by a "Special Screening Board" after which the Authority only considered the proposal. In his affidavit of 21-Jul-2005 Mr BK Jain has stated, in para-5 & 6, that responses received were "considered by a Special Screening Board constituted ...for discussions thereon and for approval of the change of land use for the Metro-Project in Delhi. The Respondent No.4 after detailed discussions recommended the change in the land use keeping in view the public purpose as defacto solution... the proposal for the change of land use ...was considered in meeting of the Authority held on 28.2.2005 ...thereafter the matter was referred to the Ministry of Urban Development for issuing a final notification ...issued on 25.4.2005". In para-1 of his affidavit of 18-Oct-2005 he has stated that responses "were duly considered by a Special Screening Board... The summary of objections and suggestions received and the decision taken by the said Special Screening Board as stated above is enclosed ...as Annexure R-4/1".
    • (b) Whereas Mr PM Parate has not disclosed the observation / decision of the Special Screening Board on response of Mr Chaudhry, the same have already been disclosed by Mr BK Jain in his counter-affidavit dated 18-Oct-2005. Annexure R-4/1 therein is a 12-page table setting out for 24 responses in 6 columns serial no, page no, name and address, objections, suggestions, and observations of the committee. At S.No.9 is mentioned page no.173 and name and address of Mr Chaudhry. His objection is summarised as "Has objected as there is no compelling reason to locate this on prime natural heritage assets like River bed". His suggestion is summarised as "Has suggested to promote the Urban agriculture with community controlled eco-visitation on the river bed till finalisation of Zonal Plan". Observations of the SSB are the same for all responses and are stated against S.No.1 as under:
      • 1. It was informed that the building of IT Park has already been constructed by DMRC, therefore, this is a case of de-facto approval of change of landuse. The SSB did not appreciate the construction of IT Park prior to change of landuse and is of the view that such cases of de-facto approval will not be considered and returned/rejected summarily in the future.
      • 2. According Chief urban planner, DMRC (Letter no.DMRC/PD(2)APP/ITO9114 dt. 9-11-2004): (a) Seismic forces have been considered while designing MRTS structures as well as that of IT Park. EIA for the MRTS as a whole including this project has been carried already been carried out and recommendations implemented; (b) Clearance from Yamuna Standing Committee, Central Water Commission, Govt of India has been obtained for IT Park.
      • 3. The Project being of a special importance to the city, the SSB recommends further processing of change of land use under Delhi Development Act, 1957 with 25% ground coverage & 100 FAR and DMRC shall be responsible for arranging all infrastructure requirements within its own premises.
    • (c) It is pertinent that RTI Act was fully in force when additional counter-affidavit dated 18-Oct-2005 sworn by Mr BK Jain (then Director-DC&RYP and, in that capacity, also member of SSB for IT Park Public Notice) was filed to make, in effect, suo-motu disclosure about 24 responses in a writ petition (not PIL) in which it had neither been sought by the Petitioner nor directed by the Court. Mr BK Jain needed to intimate the other 23 persons, including Mr Chaudhry, as affected persons about this under s.4(1)(d) in perspective of their third party rights under by s.11(1).
  5. The instant RTI experience (02-Dec-2005 to 10-Jan-06) also runs contrary to submissions made before Central Information Commission on 23-Dec-2005 by DDA Pr.Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Mr VM Bansal, in Complaint of Mr Sarabjit Roy. For instance:
    • (a) Mr Bansal conveyed to the Commission, and subsequently in a news item dated 07-Jan-2006, that the system of 40 PIOs is working fine. However, Mr Balbir Singh received reply of 10-Jan-2006 from Mr PM Parate after the stipulated 30-day period and after letter of 10-Jan-2005 from office of Mr PV Mahashabdey to invite him for hearing for which the information that Mr Parate's reply did not provide had been requested, originally from Mr Mahashabdey.
    • (b) Mr Bansal submitted before the Commission that details of all MPD-2021 Public Notice responses and disposal could be provided to Mr Roy afterwards. However, details of Mr Chaudhry's response to IT Park Public Notice of 2004 were not disclosed under RTI. Even date of notification or details already disclosed to others in counter-affidavits was not provided.
    • (c) Mr Bansal submitted before the Commission that Public Notice responses are confidential and cannot be disclosed (and even called Mr Roy a "tout" for asking for them). However, as mentioned, Mr Mahashabdey had already forwarded and Mr BK Jain subsequently forwarded Mr Balbir Singh's RTI request for details of disposal of Mr Manoj Chaudhary's response and Mr BK Jain had previously disclosed in an additional counter-affidavit not sought by the Petitioner or directed by the Court responses, with comments / decision on them, of Mr Chaudhry and 22 other.
    • (d) Allegations were made before the Commission about law-and-order problem due to time over-run in presentation of Mr Roy on 03-Dec-2005. However, time-management information was not provided despite two RTI requests for Mr Chaudhry's hearing (incidentally originally scheduled on 03-Dec-2005).
  6. DMP-2021 Public Notice hearing on 16-Jan-2006 is vitiated by invitation to Mr Balbir Singh who has not filed any objection/suggestion and by its scheduling in pendency of a matter in which Central Information Commission has directed an additional affidavit on MPD-2021 Public Notice proceedings on 23-Dec-2005 (when fact of this scheduled hearing was suppressed by the DDA despite presence of all concerned officials) and in pendency of related RTI requests (including one of 05-Dec-2005 about reconstitution of the Board, pending in First Appeal in DDA and one of 28-Dec-2005 for certain facts to be provided under s.41(d) in context of the proceedings before the Commission that has been transferred from PIO in LG Secretariat to DDA VC for appropriate action in a stipulated time-frame, as per communication dated 13-Jan-2006).