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Can a IC ask the PA to explain as to why it is insisting on Aadhaar for issue of caste certificate ?

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Can a IC ask the PA to explain as to why it is insisting on Aadhaar for issue of caste certificate ?

 

In a surprising decision a IC in he CIC has asked the PA to explain, as to why it is insisting on a Aadhaar card for issue of caste certificates.

 

Full decision is attached to this post.

 

Does a IC have any powers to seek such explanations ?

 

DECISION

 

3. Both the parties made their submissions. The appellant made an application forcaste certificate in 2012, when Adhar Card was not an essential requirement for this.There was huge delay in responding to his application. Meanwhile, as represented bythe APIO there is a major change in the requirement for caste certificate. Now theadhar card is made essential, without which the application is rejected by theComputer itself as the new software does not accept the applications without aadharcard number. It is a serious policy issue which is affecting the people and creatingthe difficulties in getting the caste certificate.

 

Section 4 of RTI Act, says: Every public authority shall— © publish allrelevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing thedecisions which affect public, (d) provide reasons for its administrative orquasi*judicial decisions to affected persons.

 

From the RTI application of the appellant, it reveals that the Department has notmade any public announcement as to the requirement of adhar card for issuing theCaste certificate which is a very serious policy decision affecting millions of people.

Section 4(1)(d) of the RTI Act also madates the Public Authority to provide reasonsfor its administrative or judicial decisions, affecting the people. This is anadministrative decision of the public authority to impose Aadhar as a condition forsecuring the Caste Certificate. This was incorporated into the software and that isrejecting the applications for caste certificate mechanically finding no Aadhar cardresulting in denial of other benefits based on the caste certificate. Thus the PublicAuthority has violated these two provisions of RTI Act which should have beenvoluntarily disclosed by the Public authority without somebody asking for informationunder RTI. The RTI Act made it clear that what a public authority should disclose onits own is different from the informaiton that could be sought as a right by applicantsby paying fee. Non*disclosure of obligatory information under Section 4 compells thepeople to pay Rs 10 and seek information under 3 which is against the spirit of RTIAct. The Publi Authorityhas violated Section 4 and also Section 3 of the RTI Act bynot providing it at least, in response to the application.

 

4. The appellant has quoted an order of the Supreme Court [uIDAI Vs CBI (SpecialLeave to Appeal (Crl) No(s).2524/2014)] stating that adhar card should not be animpediment in providing certain services to the citizens. In fact that information was given bythe respondent department itself. In its Order of March 24, 2014, the Supreme Court saidthat an Aadhar card was not compulsory for availing any facility from a government authorityand any authority making such a card mandatory would have to modify its circulars andnotifications to that effect.

 

5. It is pathetic that even after the RTI application is filed long ago, such information was notgiven to the appellant. The Commission, therefore, directs the Public Authority to explain thereasons for formulating a policy of making adhar card number mandatory for issuance ofcaste certificate. For a long time they were issuing caste certificates without insisting on thisnew condition. It also their duty to inform the people that Aadhar card number has to beprovided while seeking the Caste Certificate. It is breach of principles of natural justice todeny the certificate which they were getting all these years without informing them thechange in the requirement. Whether a person is eligible to get Aadhar card or not, he wouldbe certainly eligible to get certfication of his caste. The PIO cannot take the execuse ofabsence of adhar card to deny the rights of the people. This was made very specific by theSupreme Court on several occassions. The Commission directs the PIO to explain whypenalty cannot be imposed for denial of information and violation of RTI Act, within 21 daysfrom the receipt of this order. The Commission directs the head of the Public Authority toexplain the reasons for such policy which is in clear violation of orders of Supreme Court andtheir proposed action thereof to resolve the problems in the issue of caste certificates in theform of a policy document, which shall be placed on official website in both Hindi and Englishlanguages, a copy of which shall be served on the appellant and this Commission within onemonth from the date of receipt of this order.

 

6. The Commission also directs the respondent authority to inform the appellant about fateof his application for caste certificate within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order.The appeal is disposed of.

IC asking PA to explain insistence on Aadhaar.pdf

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