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  1. CIC has held that information related to fire safety norms and inspection reports are disclosable under RTI and it is information related to life information. This order has several case citations on disclosure of such information and will be valuable to members to quote such citations in their appeals. 15. Information regarding fire safety norms is life related information. The Commission further observes that the Public Authority is having advantage of having a complete hold on all their information, whereas the appellant is an unofficial without access to information and she is requesting for the information on inspections done by the Respondent authority. It is improper for the respondent authority to hide this significant information. The representatives argued before the Commission for a long on the words used and date mentioned in RTI application. There might be a mistake in mentioning the date, but it is not fair on the part of the Public Authority to deny the information of their inspections. Such an attitude of officers against the disclosure tends any person to believe the suspicion of corruption prevailing in the public authority. It is the basic and avowed purpose of the entire department of Fire and Fire Services to see that no building faces the risk of the fire. The attitude of the respondent authority should have been positive and when a citizen is making all efforts to make the buildings safe through enforcement of the systems that are put in place by the Government itself, they are in fact performing the job of respondents, which should have guided them to come forward to give the information held by them. 16. The Commission finds no reason to deny the information sought by the appellant that has to be disclosed in larger public interest, and primarily it is about safety and security of lives of the persons living in and around these buildings. If at all there is any information which has to be disclosed urgently considering the life and liberty of persons, the Commission thinks that this is that. 17. The Commission observes that public authority in this case has committed a grave breach of RTI by showing adamant attitude in denying the information about inspection records of fire safety norms in Delhi. It seems that the Fire Department has not learnt anything from the worst Upahar tragedy incident which led to imposition of civil and criminal liabilities on public servants including some of the employees of fire department. Their attitude fortifies apprehensions of corruption in selectively applying the fire norms and issuance of no objection certificate and using or not using the powers of disconnecting water and power to the buildings who did not comply with the fire safety norms. It is the duty of respondent authority to clear the apprehensions that appellant is being victimized because she filed RTI or questioning inaction of respondents. 18. The Commission directs the respondent authority to provide all inspection reports with reference to property at 4/14A Asaf Ali Road without getting into technical interpretation about the date of inspection. 19. The Commission also directs the respondent/PIO to show cause why penalty cannot be imposed for suppressing the information and wrongfully taking shelter under a dispute about a particular date. Their explanation should reach the Commission within three weeks from the date of receipt of this order. Full order is attached to this post. Fire safety norms and inspection reports disclosable.pdf
  2. As reported at sify.com on 15 December 2010 New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) As many as 1,200 schools in the national capital, including some top privately run institutions, are flouting fire safety norms, a right to information (RTI) query has revealed. While many government schools do not have basic fire-fighting equipment, many private schools have not bothered to get their facilities certified from the fire department. Delhi Fire Service (DFS), in reply to an RTI application filed by activist Manish Bhatnagar, said as many as 1,200 schools in Delhi are functioning without a no objection certificate (NOC) from it. These schools include well known ones like Delhi Public School, Vasant Kunj; Amity International School, Malviya Nagar; and Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan, the RTI reply said. Government institutions like Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, Mandawali; Government Boys Senior Secondary School, Sultanpuri; and Sarovadaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Madanpur Khadar are yet to get fire safety clearance certificates, the DFS said. Deputy Chief Fire Officer A.K. Sharma told IANS: 'Schools are bound to follow the fire safety norms prescribed by the directorate of education (DoE). If DoE tells us to verify if any school is flouting these rules, then only can we start a scrutiny.' 'We grant an NOC to a school only if it follows fire safety norms. If that's not the case, we don't give it an NOC,' he said. He said most schools seemed more interested in admitting a large number of children instead of providing them a safe environment. According to fire brigade sources, many schools in the capital start operation with a 'temporary' NOC on the understanding that they will install the necessary equipment within one year. 'Shockingly, many educational institutes never come back to the fire department for getting a permanent NOC,' said a DFS official, pleading anonymity. Delhi Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely refused to comment on the issue. When IANS contacted some of the schools identified by the DFS as alleged violators of fire safety rules, many refused to comment. The chairperson of a popular public school in Vasant Kunj, on condition of anonymity, said: 'We have been running the school for years and we have no problem; then where is the question of NOC for fire?' According to DFS sources, many school buildings lack basic facilities like ventilation, fire extinguishers and proper exit points to be used during an emergency. According to the Supreme Court, buildings for schools should be constructed only by a government certified engineer or by the government works department. The apex court's order followed a 2004 blaze that killed 93 children in a school in the Kumbakonam area of Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur district.
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