New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has passed a landmark order instructing Union Urban Development Ministry’s Land and Development Officer to co-ordinate with the Ministry of Home Affairs and provide to the appellant within 30 days all the details of persons to whom allotment was made, details of properties that were allotted on lease basis, along with the terms and conditions of allotment in Jheel Khurenja Delhi, presently known as Geeta Colony (a Government built property), under the policy for displaced individuals from Pakistan.
The Commission has also ordered that the list of allottees and the criteria adopted for such allotment also should be placed on the official website for perusal by all concerned.
The order passed today by Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka comes in response to an appeal by the Appellant, Sushil Kumar Malik, who had sought information regarding Geeta Colony under the RTI Act.
The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), through a letter dated 16 December 2016 responded to the RTI application by stating that the information sought by the applicant was not available with them. The applicant was also informed that information regarding the third person could not be provided. Dissatisfied by the response of CPIO, the Appellant approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA). The FAA, through its order of 14 February 2017 responded that information sought by the Applicant has already been answered on 16 December 2016.
The Commission has taken serious note of the summary rejection of the application for information sought by the appellant and underscored that as per the provisions of Section 7 (8) (i) of the RTI Act, 2005, where a request for disclosure of information is rejected, the CPIO shall communicate the reasons for such rejection.
The Commission’s order puts on record that the Appellant, Sushil Kumar Malik along with another person, Ved Prakash Sharma, have reiterated the contents of the RTI application and stated that the information sought in respect of the policy for displaced individuals from Pakistan who finally settled in India and were allotted land for resettlement was not furnished by the Respondent. It was argued that the reply of the CPIO/FAA was vague and ambiguous deflecting the main issue raised in the RTI application. In its reply, the Respondent explained that the original policy may have been evolved by MHA and thereafter the subject matter for allotment of land to the displaced individuals was handed over to MOUD. He feigned ignorance about the policy enunciated by GOI in this regard and submitted that to the best of his knowledge, 3000 individuals approximately) had been allotted land for resettlement. No digitized records of such allottees was available with the Respondent. The Commission was in receipt of a written submission from the Respondent dated 13 January 2019, wherein the reply of the CPIO/FAA was reiterated.
The Commission heard the matter on Wednesday, 13 March. A copy of the order issued today, (14 March) has been marked to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development with the advise that they should, keeping in view the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005, depute an officer of an appropriate seniority to extract the information relating to the displaced individuals from Pakistan who had been allotted land in India for their resettlement.