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HC quashes CIC order directing labour dept for information on Reliance Refinery

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Ahmedabad, August 16: Justice D N Patel of Gujarat High Court has quashed an order passed by the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of the State directing the PIO of labour department to provide information to one Rasiklal Maradia. Maradia had sought information about Reliance Refinery in Jamnagar under RTI from the labour department.

 

After Maradia was denied the information by the labour department, he had moved the CIC. Having accepted his contentions, the CIC passed an order directing the labour department PIO to furnish the information to the applicant. Subsequently, Maradia was provided with the information.

 

Meanwhile, the Reliance Industry moved an application before all PIOs and the CIC contending that the information sought under RTI about the company should not be disclosed before hearing the company.

 

After the order of the CIC, the company approached the High Court, challenging the order of the CIC. Senior counsel Mihir Thakor and advocate Dhaval Dave submitted that the information pertains to the private company (third party) and therefore it should not have been parted with before hearing the company. They also submitted that the information should be provided only if public interest warrants it.

 

Secondly, they submitted that applicant Maradia wanted to settle his commercial rivalry with Reliance and therefore he had sought information regarding the company. Another submission made by the company was that the applicant was likely to misuse the information obtained under RTI and he was facing several criminal cases filed by the Union of India.

 

Having heard the submissions, the court held that the information pertains to the third party and therefore the company should have been heard before the information was given away. The court has quashed the order of CIC and ruled in favour of the Reliance Industries.

 

Moreover, the court has held that the applicant had tried to drag the company into controversy earlier also.

 

HC quashes CIC order directing labour dept for information on Reliance Refinery

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sambasivaiah k

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

Club Building, Old JNU Campus,

Opposite Ber Sarai, New Delhi -110067

Tel: + 91 11 26161796

 

 

Decision No. CIC/SM/A/2010/001353/SG/14305

 

Appeal No. CIC/SM/A/2010/001353/SG

 

Relevant Facts emerging from the Appeal:

 

Appellant : Mr. Notam .Mohan

C/o Dorai

(Near) Saibaba Temple

Shar Road, Sullupput

Nellore, Tamil Nadu

 

Respondent : Mr. S. Satish

PIO & Director

ISRO-Department of Space

Antariksh Bhawan,

New Bel Road, Bangalore

 

RTI application filed on : 08/05/2010

PIO replied : 10/06/2010

First Appeal filed on : 20/06/2010

Order of First Appellate Authority : No mentioned.

Second Appeal received on : 27/09/2010

 

Information Sought:

The Appellant sought details regarding Works / Services carried out by the Sub-Contractors, Sub-subcontractors

of M/s Premier Explosives Limited.

 

PIO’s Reply:

The PIO stated that information sought is not held by the office and the same does not come under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005. Further, the PIO provided a list of sub-contractors and subsequently asked the Appellant to contact M/s Premier Explosives Limited for details of works and services provided by the Contractors.

 

Note: The Appellant vide letter dated 20/06/2011 sought the information as directed by the PIO from the M/s Premier Explosives Limited. The M/s Premier Explosives Limited replied stating that RTI Act, 2005 is not applicable to their

company.

 

Grounds for First Appeal:

The Appellant believes that the PIO’s claim of Section 2(f) and the company being not under the purview of RTI Act, 2005 is not reasonable.

 

Order of the First Appellate Authority:

Not Mentioned.

 

Grounds for Second Appeal:

The Appellant maintains his allegation of having received only part, misleading and false information.

 

Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:

 

The following were present

Appellant : Mr. Notam Mohan on video conference from NIC- Studio;

Respondent : Mr. Satish, PIO & Director and Mr. Ravindra Nath, Director on video conference from NIC- Studio;

 

The Appellant has sought information about the sub-contractors and sub-sub-contractors of M/s Premier Explosives Limited who are carrying out the work at the site of the public authority. The respondents have stated that they do not keep information about the sub-contractors and sub-subcontractors and this is not required as per law. The Appellant contends that as far as payment of provident fund is concerned the Public Authority is responsible for ensuring that Provident Fund is paid to all the workers working in the premises of the Public Authority and as a principal employer it is a responsibility of the Public Authority to monitor this. The respondent has stated that since they do not hold the information they can not be asked to provide it. Section 2(f) of the RTI Act defines, "information" means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and formationrelating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force;”. It is necessary that the principal employer must access information regarding the compliance by the contractors or other workers working on the site. The Commission would here like to point out that all public authorities have special duty to ensure that laws are adhered to by their contractors and sub-contractors. The information regarding the PF facilities being given to the Sub-Contractors is certainly information which can be accessed by the Public Authority as per the requirement of the law.

 

Decision:

 

The Appeal is allowed.

 

The PIO is directed access the information regarding the PF status of the Sub-Contractors and the Sub-sub-contractors workers and provide it to the Appellant before 20 September 2011.

 

This decision is announced in open chamber.

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

Any information in compliance with this Order will be provided free of cost as per Section 7(6) of RTI Act.

 

Shailesh Gandhi

Information Commissioner

26 August 2011

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