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CIC direct SVNIRTAR to pay for appelant travel expenses for filling 2nd appeal

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Shrawan

In a remarkable judgement, the CIC has directed SVNIRTAR to compensate the Appellant for having had to come to the Commission for the hearing by paying him the equivalent of AC-2 Tier fare from Cuttack to Delhi and back in addition to Rs.500/- for his local expenses in Delhi.

 

Central Information Commission

*****

No.CIC/OK/A/2006/00441

Dated, the 16th November 2006

Name of the Appellant:

Er. Ranjan Das,

S/o Shri Baba Charan Das,

Plot No. 927, Tala Sahi,

Laxmi Sagar,

Bhubaneshwar, Orissa.

Name of the Public Authority : Swami Vivekanand National Institute of Rehabilitation Training & Research, Cuttack.

 

DECISION

 

Background:

The Appellant, Er. Ranjan Das of the Swami Vivekanand National Institute of Rehabilitation and Research (SVNIRTAR), Cuttack, had applied for study leave for doing the M.Tech Course in BIO-Medical Engineering at IIT Mumbai in 1997. He was refused the study leave on the ground that this course

was “neither beneficial to the Institute nor related to the sphere of duties of Shri Das being Mechanical Engineer.” Shri Das then filed a writ petition in the High Court of Orissa vide OJC no. 15834/1997 against the orders of refusal of leave by the Institute. After hearing the case, the Hon’ble High Court directed the Institute to relieve the Petitioner forthwith to enable him to join the course. The judgment added that during the period of training at IIT, Mumbai, the petitioner would be granted study leave and would draw the leave salary as admissible to an employee proceeding on study leave.

On receiving the judgment, Shri Das asked to be relieved forthwith as

per the directions of the Court to enable him to join the IIT course.

Accordingly, he was relieved of his duties from the Institute vide order No. DR 1A 57 dated 14.7.1998 but without a proper sanction of study leave.

As the Institute did not consider this course to be of any relevance/

benefit to the Institute, it moved the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Orissa High Court vide SLP (Civil) No. 12274/98. After hearing the case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India granted an interim stay order on the judgment of the High Court after which the Appellant returned to the Institute and joined back his duties w.e.f. 29.9.1998. However, at the time of the final disposal of the aforesaid SLP, the Supreme Court of India vide its order dated 13.12.2001 upheld the direction of the High Court of Orissa allowing the appellant to join the M.Tech programme at IIT (Mumbai) on study leave and ordered the Institute to relieve the appellant at the end of the then current academic year, i.e., 2001.

Though, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had ordered that the Appellant be

relived at the end of the academic year in 2001 to join the IIT (Mumbai), the Appellant in the meantime decided to join the M. Tech course in Biomedical Engineering at IT, BHU, Varanasi instead and submitted a request to his Institute accordingly. He was then granted study leave from 30.7.2002 to 31.1.2004 vide office memorandum no. AD6B01-969 dated 29th July, 2002. His Institute while granting him study leave for joining the course at IT seems to have been very careful to deduct the 76 days which the Appellant had spent at the IIT (Mumbai). As the M. Tech course at BHU was for a full 2 years and the study leave accordingly fell short, the Appellant requested the Institute for an extension of his study leave up to 31.7.04, i. e., 2 years 2 days.

This leave was refused and he was asked to avail all other kinds of leave

as per his entitlement for the period 15.5.04 to 31.78.04 to complete the

course. The Appellant, however, completed the course well before the scheduled date and joined back his duties at the Institute at Cuttack on

17.5.04.

It was at this stage that the Shri Das made an application dated 17.5.06

to his Institute under the RTI Act, 2005 requesting for photocopies of all orders relating to his periods of study leave including its extension and the bond executed between him and the Director, SVNIRTAR before proceeding to IIT, Mumbai, and then to IT BHU, Varanasi.

The letter from the PIO, SVNIRTAR, dated 23.5.06 denied him the information under Clause 8(i)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005. Shri Das then filed an

appeal against this order before the Director, SVNIRTAR on 13.6.06. The Appellate Authority did not deem it fit to pass any order on the same said

appeal. At this, Shri Das approached the Central Information through his

second appeal on 29 August, 2006, after which the Commission scheduled the hearing of both the parties u/s 19 of the said Act on 8th November, 2006.

The bench of Dr. O.P. Kejariwal, Information Commissioner, heard the matter. At the hearing, the respondents were represented by Shri B.M. Pradhan, Director and Appellate Authority and Shri K.N. Kittur, the PIO, SVNIRTAR. The Appellant, Er. Ranjan Das was present in person.

 

Decision:

 

The Commission has thought it appropriate to give a detailed account of

this case as this seems to be symptomatic of the ailment which afflicts many of our educational institutions, and especially those of higher learning where, only because of professional jealousy and narrow mindedness, bright and enthusiastic students as well as the employees of the Institutions are prevented from acquiring higher degrees and qualifications which would only go to the benefit of the Institution concerned and the nation at large. Has this not indeed been one of the main reasons for ‘brain drain’ from this country? The Commission was astounded to learn of the fact that just to prevent a person of their own fraternity from acquiring a higher degree, the SVNIRTAR thought it appropriate to move to the Supreme Court only in an effort to prevent Shri Das from availing study leave to acquire a higher degree. Actually Shri Das getting admission into IIT should have been a moment of glory for the SVNIRTAR: instead they seem to have hounded the bright scholar and made all efforts to prevent him from going to IIT. Even if we grant that the grounds given by the Institute that Shri Das’s acquiring the M. Tech degree from IIT, Mumbai was not beneficial to the SVNIRTAR – which does not seem to be the case – was it a crime if Shri Das returned to his Institute with greater qualifications and wider experience after completing a course at IIT – certainly an Institute enjoying a much higher reputation than the SVNIRTAR ? On the other hand, Shri Das, at the hearing, produced a copy of the advertisement for the post of Director of

the National Institute of Rehabilitation Training and Research (SVNIRTAR) issued by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which carried as an essential qualification a Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering. Yet another advertisement produced by the Appellant at the hearing was that of his own Institute where the qualification required for one of the posts was a degree in Biomedical Engineering from a Recognized Univer sity/ reputed Training Institute adding that “post-graduation in the above field will be added advantage”. At the hearing, the Respondents were asked how, at all, Clause 8(1)(j) of the Act was attracted in this case because the information asked for by the Appellant was for himself. To this the Respondents had no reply.

After listening to both the Parties the Commission hereby directs the

Respondents to make accessible all records/documents/files/bonds pertaining to the study leave of Shri Das to him within 15 days of the issue of this order. The Commission further directs the Director of Institute, SVNIRTAR, to compensate the Appellant for having had to come to the Commission for the hearing by paying him the equivalent of AC-2 Tier fare from Cuttack to Delhi and back in addition to Rs.500/- for his local expenses in Delhi, within 21 days from the date of issue of this order.

The Appellant is also free to approach the Commission in case all the documents he has asked for are not made available to him within the time

prescribed by this order.

The Commission ordered accordingly.

Sd/-

(O.P. Kejariwal)

Information Commissioner

Authenticated true copy:

Sd/-

(Pankaj K.P. Shreyaskar)

Assistant Registrar

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maneesh

It is truely a land mark judgement as CIC imposes penalty by expanding the ambit of RTI.

I am sure in very short time RTI will be able to reach to common masses and stop the arbitary use of power.

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brijeshbhatt

Authorities/Deptts. should take lesson from this decision and try to redress grievance of Applicant at first instance so that he need not to Appleal. :)

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maneesh

RTI is silent revolution which will change the face of Govt. in coming times.

Kudos to CIC for uphelding the values of RTI.

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