Cambata Aviation: CIC takes critical view of the plight of the aviation company employees; issues strict instructions to Income Tax Department

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Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: A day after Jet Airways was grounded and it came to a screeching halt due to lack of funds for critical services, Central Information Commissioner, Bimal Julka, today passed an order in connection with another aviation company stating that it cannot be a mute spectator to the pitiable conditions being faced by the employees of that company, which is seeking shelter under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005.

Considering the sensitivities of the matter in the light of the criticality of sustenance issues faced by its employees, the Commission has instructed the Respondent [Central Public Information Officer (CPIO)/ Dy. Commissioner of Income Tax – 9(2)(1) Office of the Dy. Commissioner of Income Tax – 9(2)(1), R. No. 665 A, Aayakar Bhawan, M. K. Road Mumbai – 400020] to disclose point-wise information as held and available with them to the Appellant within 15 days in the larger public interest.

The Appellant, Subramanian K Ansari, through an RTI application had sought information on 6 points regarding Cambata Aviation Pvt. Ltd., certified copy of the balance sheet and P/L Account for the last 10 years from 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2017, whether the IT department had received any correspondence in writing regarding the closure of this company. If it had informed the It Department then certified copies of all the correspondence.

The CPIO, through a letter of 11 September 2017, while relying on the judgment of the Apex Court in the matter of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & ors. SLP(C) No. 27734 of 2012 of 3 October 2012 had denied disclosure of information u/s 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005.

Dissatisfied by the response, the Appellant approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA). The FAA, on 9 October 2017 instructed the CPIO to contact the Third Party and request it to make a submission in writing regarding whether the information sought should be disclosed or not within 7 days. In compliance with the order of the FAA, the CPIO through a letter dated 16 October 2017 stated that the consent of the Third Party was sought through a letter of 11 October 2017 and that it had objected to the disclosure of information.

The Appellant reiterated the contents of the RTI application and stated that the information sought was incorrectly denied to him u/s 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 without considering the larger public interest involved in the matter. Explaining the background of the matter, the Appellant alleged that M/s Cambata Aviation Pvt. Ltd had deprived salary/ wages to more than 2100 employees since March, 2016 on the pretext of bad condition of finance and loss in the business resulting in extreme financial hardships to him and hundreds of other employees. He further alleged that the said Company was also willfully defaulting in payment of statutory dues of PF/ST/LIC/ESIC and Credit Society, etc. In its reply, the Respondent re-iterated the reply of the CPIO/ FAA and submitted that in compliance with the order of the FAA, they had sought the consent of the Third Party for the disclosure of information which had denied the same which was communicated to the Appellant vide their letter dated 16.10.2017. On being queried by the Commission regarding whether he had approached any judicial forum for the redressal of his grievance, the Appellant replied in the affirmative and submitted that he had approached the
Metropolitan Court in the matter and that several other FIRs were lodged against the Company officials in various police stations.

The Commission was in receipt of a written submission from the Appellant dated Nil wherein it was stated that he was working in Cambata Aviation Pvt. Ltd. at CSI Airport, Andheri East Mumbai – 99 as ADO since 1 March 1996 and this company had deprived salary since March 2016 to its more than 2100 employees on the pretext of bad condition of finance and loss in the business. On the other hand, the company had given increments in Jan 2014, and recruited more than 800 employees in the year 2014 and 2015 which was a contradictory activity of Cambata Aviation Pvt Ltd. Furthermore the company had not issued Form No. 16 for the period from 2014-15, to 2016-17 to its 2100 employees which aroused suspicion and compelled him to file a RTI application under the RTI Act, 2005 for financial statements which could unearth the scam of his company such as willfully defaulting statutory dues of PF/ST/LIC/ESIC and Credit Society. It was explained that he was denied personal hearing on both the occasion of his Appeals which raised suspicion in his mind that both the CPIO and FAA were indirectly helping Cambata Aviation under the pretext of Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005. An allegation was also leveled against him that being an Employee of Cambata he was settling personal score against the company by using the information sought under RTI Act. The Appellant submitted that the matter was very genuine and sensitive in nature and requested the Commission to look into it seriously.

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