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First Appellate Authority took close to 25 months to respond to my RTI first appeal


Supreeth Hegde
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Team,

On one of my RTI application, First Appellate Authority took close to 25 months to respond to my RTI first appeal hence I filed for second appeal with Central Information Commission and I have a hearing with CIC on Dec 30th 2021 [in two days].

The first appellant authority responded to me after 25 months with a vague response - “No further details is available with this Division.”., they should have given me a response max within 45 days. I wanted a disciplinary action & fine on first appellant authority I have already requested it via written submission, unfortunately nowhere in central act or RTI act it talks about punishment / disciplinary action for FAA. Section 20(1) / 20(2) only talks about actions against PIO, but PIO in my case responded to me within 30 days.

Is there any Law / Service rule I can point out to Central Information Commission during my hearing?

Regards,

Supreeth Hegde

Edited by Supreeth Hegde
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  • Supreeth Hegde changed the title to First Appellate Authority took close to 25 months to respond to my RTI first appeal

There is no such stipulation for inaction and complacence of FAA under RTI Act.  Even High courts can not penalize the FAA, as there is no such mention in RTI Act.  Once the information was provided that " No further details is available with this Division.”., appellant can not do any thing.

File another RTI Application and seek inspection of the file.  Please post the exact query and verbatim reply for meaningful guidance.

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Infact, I have taken up with DOPT for mandatory hearing of first appeal on grounds of natural justice, DOPT flately refused stating that they can not do any other thing than what is stipulated in RTI Act  Second appeal hearing was mandatory, and first appeal hearing is option of FAA.  If only First Appeal hearing is mandatory, atleast 50% of second appeals may come down.  You are fortunate to get FAA orders even after 25 months, I know one FAA of entire south never issued FAA orders for 100 first appeals even once.

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Thanks again for your inputs. Won't that be contradicting with what Section 19(6) of the RTI says that the first Appellate Authority should dispose off the appeal within thirty days of the receipt of the appeal?

Can't I request CIC to initiate disciplinary proceedings against FAA ? Or can CIC request this in HC or SC on my behalf ?? FAA in my case is from Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. 

My RTI request was requesting to provide details of Organizations or Banks which were most benefited from Demonetization.

Edited by Supreeth Hegde
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I filed this RTI & Appeal online.

  • CPIO details, FAA details, Nodal Officer Details were added recently by PIO after CIC scheduled for hearing.

  • I took screenshot [which I have] on Dec 1st 2021 when I got the notice of hearing only had Remarks section with the comment.

  • Now on Dec 29th 2021 when I took the screenshot I see CPIO details, FAA details, Nodal Officer Details.

Can this also be ground to penalize and recommend disciplinary actions against PIO ?

Screenshot 2021-12-29 at 9.24.51 AM.png

Screenshot 2021-12-29 at 9.30.12 AM.png

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In one such case well known as LIC LIFT case at Chennai, HC has overstepped and passed strictures as he failed to take any action against the CPIO, though larger public interest (faulty lift) was brought to his attention, later after some days, the High court has "suo motu" removed such paragraphs of their comments from their judgment.  When the law has not stipulated any action against FAA, every step under RTI has to be taken only as per RTI Act, there is no scope of accountability for FAA.  This is the  most serious part in RTI Act, though some activists wanted Central Govt for fixing accountability of FAA, they are hesitant to make a follow up as they may also propose some more additions/amendments with their majority.   

Edited by Prasad GLN
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As per HC Judgments/CIC decisions, a citizen is entitlement as a right is restricted to "information" alone, and it is the discretion of Information commissioners either to penalize or ignore such prayers from Appellant, depending on the facts of individual case.  Appellant can only pray but can not insist for any other remedy.

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18 minutes ago, Prasad GLN said:

As per HC Judgments/CIC decisions, a citizen is entitlement as a right is restricted to "information" alone, and it is the discretion of Information commissioners either to penalize or ignore such prayers from Appellant, depending on the facts of individual case.  Appellant can only pray but can not insist for any other remedy.

Makes sense. Thank you again for your detailed explanation and providing insights. I will put my argument with CIC tomorrow and will wait for their decision. 

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You deserve appreciation for taking a cause and at least they must realize that CPIO is not different from FAA.  As I understand the context, if FAA provided you information, you can raise a valid ground as FAA has stepped into the shoes of CPIO and responded, he is responsible for penalty on such response, as every one who assists CPIO is responsible on the same grounds as CPIO.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Attached is the CIC Decision in my case and some of the main points in the decision, failure from my side is I was not precise enough with verbiage when I initially filed RTI [More than 3.5 yrs back], however I was able to argue through my points with CIC during hearing and via written submission.

"Further the unreasonable delay of about 25 months caused by the FAA in furnishing the reply, shows complete negligence and laxity in the public authority in dealing with the RTI applications. It is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored and set aside without application of mind which reflects disrespect towards the RTI Act, 2005 itself. The Commission express its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the respondent in responding to the RTI application and the process adopted to maintain and organise record. The CPIO is therefore, warned to be extremely careful and vigilant in handling RTI petitions in future, failing which the Commission would initiate penal action under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act, 2005. This should also be brought to the notice of the Secretary, M/o. Finance Department of Economic Affairs, Delhi by placing a copy of this order before him for appropriate necessary action. "

12-675667_SR_Hegde_vs.pdf

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Without any doubt, you are successful in getting a very good decision and it helps a lot to others also.

Please convert the decision into a blog and post CIC decision para stated above.

Congratulations.  This is the feed back we expect from competent persons that are having great perseverance.

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