Category Archives: Right to Informartion

CIC censures DDA for lack of transparency in record management

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New Delhi: Central Information Commission issued an order on Friday 5 June 2020 in response to an appeal against the non-furnishing of information sought under the RTI Act from Delhi Development Authority regarding the Cooperative Group Housing Societies built on DDA allotted lease land in Delhi underscoring total lack of transparency and objectivity in respect of the documentation and record management resulting in huge loss not only to the DDA but also inconvenience to the public at large.

The order passed by Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka on Friday 5 June 2020 comes in response to an RTI application seeking information on 15 points regarding the Cooperative Group Housing Societies built on DDA allotted lease land in Delhi; name of the Government Authority and the person-in-charge who grants and manages completion certificates in Delhi; Certificate C and D issued to CGHS; certificate of occupancy and completion certificate and the Law, Act/ Rule/ Section under which it was mandatory to issue these certificates.

DDA’s Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), the officer responsible for providing the information under the RTI Act, stated through a letter on 27 July 2018 that DDA completion certificate was being issued by Building Department. Dissatisfied by the response of the CPIO, the Appellant approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA). It has come to light that the no order of the FAA in this matter is on the record of the Commission.

Asst Director, Group Housing, DDA, told the CIC that since the information sought was not available with them, he had transferred the file to the Building Division. The representative of the Building Division of the DDA feigned ignorance of the subject matter and stated that he was made aware of the Appeal under consideration on the date of hearing only. He was also unaware of the total number of societies which have yet to obtain completion certificates and tossed the matter to the Group Housing Division.

The representative of the Group Housing Division however informed that he had recently joined and as per his assessment, there were approximately 824 Group Housing Societies registered with DDA but no proper records were maintained of the updated status of fulfillment of procedural formalities.

The Commission has observed that no information was provided by the Respondent and the application shuttled from one Public Authority to another which was in contravention to the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005.

The CIC order categorically points out that apparently, “there exists a palpable vacuum in the records management system of the Public Authority which might be causing colossal revenue loss to the Public Authority besides huge inconvenience to the sufferings of the public”.

keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties and also in the light of the sensitivity and the criticality of the subject matter, the Commission has instructed the Vice Chairman, DDA to have this matter examined forthwith and furnish cogent, precise and correct information to the Appellant within a period of 30 days.

The Commission has also advised the Public Authority officials to place the entire information on its website for the benefit of the public at large. It is also essential that the Public Authority revisits
its record management manual and evolve a strong and robust mechanism for digitizing such records using the latest technological tools. An action taken report be sent to the Commission within a period of 30 days.

DDA has been asked to convene periodic conferences and seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of duties and responsibilities.

The Commission also has instructed DDA to convene periodic conferences/seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.


Editorial Comment: Under Sections 3 (3) (a) and (b) of the Delhi Development Act, 1957,
Delhi’s Lieutenant governor is the chairman of DDA, while its executive head is the Vice Chairman, who is always a senior IAS officer appointed by the Central Government. Questions arise, Where the buck should stop? Who should be held accountable for lack of transparency and objectivity and when it comes to meeting the objectives of DDA?

We talk of transparency and objectivity but if we take DDA as a test case, another big question that needs to be addressed is – Who will fix accountability with regard to those responsible for direlection of duty and causing loss to the exchequer?

In another matter connected with the Delhi Development Authority, the CIC in November 2019, had taken note of “utter neglect, casual and callous disregard” to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, and directed Rajesh Kumar, Pr. Commissioner (Housing), DDA, to depute an officer of an appropriate seniority to investigate and to fix responsibility and accountability on the concerned official within a period of 30 days. A copy of the action taken in the matter should be reported to the Appellant with a copy to the Commission for its perusal.

In this matter also Bimal Julka, in his earlier position as Central Information Commissioner, had issued the order. Through this order, DDA been instructed to convene periodic conferences/seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

The Appellant vide his RTI application had sought information on 4 points in respect of Flat Number C-1, 164, details of payment plan for the said flat along with dates for the payment of installments; the date on which the possession of the said flat would be granted; number of properties for which the possession of flats had been transferred, etc.

The Assistant Director (RTI)/PIO, through letter of 12 December 2017, transferred the RTI application to the Assistant Director (Housing Scheme-17)/PIO, DDA, for necessary action at their end. Dissatisfied due to non-receipt of any response from the concerned CPIO, the Appellant approached the FAA. The APIO, on 6 March 2018, transferred the Appeal to the FAA, DDA, New Delhi, for necessary action.

The Appellant reiterated the contents of the RTI application and stated that despite repeated reminders to the DDA, no reply had been received for the last two years and therefore enraged by the callousness and utter neglect exhibited by the Respondent, he desired that penal action be initiated against the concerned official and compensation be granted for lack of due diligence and disrespect to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. In its reply, the Respondent while acknowledging the delay in attending to the RTI application submitted that the RTI application remained untraced due to heavy pressure of work and inadequate staff. Only on receipt of the notice of hearing, the application was attended to and replied.

The repondent informed the CIC that the RTI Appeal was diarised in their office and the same was handed over to the then Dealing Assistant Govind Singh, who had not put up the same to the PIO/FAA and that he had retired in January, 2019. It was also mentioned that Harish Chander who had since retired and Ms Suman Madan, PIO/Assistant Director was transferred from Housing Department. G. S. Badwal, FAA/Dy. Director was also transferred from Housing Department in the month of September, 2019.
Furthermore, it was submitted that the information sought by the Appellant was already available in the brochure of the Housing Scheme, 2017 and Demand-cum-Allotment letter dated 15.02.2018 issued to the Applicant and that other information asked by him was hypothetical in nature.

The Commission had observed that there was 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 hasd stated and expressed its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the DDA authority in responding to the RTI application. CIC order said: “It was felt that the conduct of the Respondent was against the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 which was enacted to ensure greater transparency and effective access to the information.”

Delhi Gymkhana Club: CIC directs Land Development office of Housing Ministry to disclose lease related details

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New Delhi: Responding to an appeal by a citizen on denial of information regarding terms and conditions of allotment of leased property to Delhi Gymkhana Club (DGC) and the factual position regarding compliance of the terms by the concerned government authorities, the Central Information Comission on Friday 15 November 2019 passed an order directing the Land and Development Office of Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs to disclose point-wise information to the Appellant in respect of the queries raised by him regarding the periodic inspections/reviews as carried out by the Urban Development Ministry with respect to the lease granted to the Delhi Gymkhana Club (DGC) since 1929 and whether it met with the provisions of the original Articles of Association and the action taken thereon along with the associated issues within 15 days respecting the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 and the larger public interest involved therein.

The order passed by the Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka, directs that any departure from non-compliance of this decision would attract penal action in accordance with Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act, 2005.

The Commission has also instructed the Public Authority to convene periodic onferences and seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

Abhay Kumar Khanna, the Appellant, had sought information on 11 points on whether there was any system of periodical inspection of land granted for public utility in the form of lease in perpetuity. If so, he had sought the details of periodic intervals in which such inspections had been carried out by the Ministry of Urban evelopment, any agency or individuals appointed on behalf of the concerned Ministry.

The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) , through a letter of 4 December 2017, stated that the Appellant had not furnished his stake in
the property regarding which the information was sought by him hence the Appellant was requested to furnish documents, if any, to establish his stake in the Delhi Gymkhana Club within 10 days. Subsequently, the CPIO through a letter of 2 January 2018 stated that Delhi Gymkhana Club had objected to the disclosure of information under Section 11(1) of the RTI Act, 2005. Furthermore, with regard to another point raised by the appellant, it was stated that the issue was taken up with the Club and on receipt of the clarification from them, the Appellant would be informed accordingly.

The Appellant approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA) but no order of the FAA is on the record of the Commission.

The Respondent (public authority) also remained absent during the hearing, despite prior intimation. During hearing, the Appellant alleged that the DGC was not complying with the lease terms as also their AOA, the Appellant submitted that membership of the Club was denied to applicants as per the whims and fancies of the Administrative Authorities.

He further submitted that contrary to the provisions of Section 6 (2) of the RTI Act, 2005, the Respondent Public Authority directed him to establish his stake in the property of DGC which was in violation of the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 and in contravention to the larger public interest involved therein.

The Commission was also in receipt of a written submission, dated 7 November 2019, from the Respondent, who reiterated the reply of the CPIO, stating that the FAA on 14 May 2018 had disposed off the First Appeal directing the CPIO to furnish the information available in their office to the Appellant. Accordingly, the Appellant was provided information through a letter of 14 May 2018. However, the Appellant had now preferred an Appeal before the Commission mentioning that the First Appeal was never decided and no information had been provided to the Appellant. In view of the above, it was stated that the requisite information had already been provided to the Appellant. Hence, it was prayed to exempt his personal appearance before the Commission.

In this matter, CIC has brought on record that the CPIO/ FAA did not provide a satisfactory response to the Appellant. The CIC order says that the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 and various judgements on the subject matter clearly establishes that it is the duty of the CPIO to provide clear, cogent and precise response to the information seekers. Section 7 (8) (i) of the RTI Act, 2005 also states that where a request for disclosure of information is rejected, the CPIO shall communicate the reasons for such rejection.

Delhi Development Authority

In another matter connected with the Delhi Development Authority, raised by Vinod Singhla as Appellant, the CIC on Friday took note of “utter neglect, casual and callous disregard” to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, and directed Rajesh Kumar, Pr. Commissioner (Housing), DDA, to depute an officer of an appropriate seniority to investigate and to fix responsibility and accountability on the concerned official within a period of 30 days. A copy of the action taken in the matter should be reported to the Appellant with a copy to the Commission for its perusal.

In this matter also the Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka has issued the order. Through this order, the Respondent Public Authority has been instructed to convene periodic conferences/seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

The Appellant vide his RTI application had sought information on 4 points in respect of Flat Number C-1, 164, details of payment plan for the said flat along with dates for the payment of installments; the date on which the possession of the said flat would be granted; number of properties for which the possession of flats had been transferred, etc.

The Assistant Director (RTI)/PIO, through letter of 12 December 2017, transferred the RTI application to the Assistant Director (Housing Scheme-17)/PIO, DDA, for necessary action at their end. Dissatisfied due to non-receipt of any response from the concerned CPIO, the Appellant approached the FAA. The APIO, on 6 March 2018, transferred the Appeal to the FAA, DDA, New Delhi, for necessary action.

The Appellant reiterated the contents of the RTI application and stated that despite repeated reminders to the DDA, no reply had been received for the last two years and therefore enraged by the callousness and utter neglect exhibited by the Respondent, he desired that penal action be initiated against the concerned official and compensation be granted for lack of due diligence and disrespect to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. In its reply, the Respondent while acknowledging the delay in attending to the RTI application submitted that the RTI application remained untraced due to heavy pressure of work and inadequate staff. Only on receipt of the
notice of hearing, the application was attended to and replied.

The repondent informed the CIC that the RTI Appeal was diarised in their office and the same was handed over to the then Dealing Assistant Govind Singh, who had not put up the same to the PIO/FAA and that he had retired in January, 2019. It was also mentioned that Harish Chander who had since retired and Ms Suman Madan, PIO/Assistant Director was transferred from Housing Department. G. S. Badwal, FAA/Dy. Director was also transferred from Housing Department in the month of September, 2019. Furthermore, it was submitted that the information sought by the Appellant was already available in the brochure of the Housing Scheme, 2017 and Demand-cum-Allotment letter dated 15.02.2018 issued to the Applicant and that other information asked by him was hypothetical in nature.

The Commission observed that there is 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 has expressed its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the respondent in responding to the RTI application. It was felt that the conduct of Respondent was against the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 which was enacted to ensure greater transparency and effective access to the information.

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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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.

Exemption granted to charitable Trusts under the IT Act 1961 involves larger public interest: Central Information Commission

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New Delhi: Central Information Commission has directed the Income Tax Department’s Tax Recovery Officer Officer (E) Ahmedabad to provide a point wise response to the Appellant and also ensure that details regarding cancellation and withdrawal of exemption granted under the IT Act 1961 to the organizations mentioned in the RTI application are displayed on the notice board of the organizations so that the general public is informed about the factual position in the matter within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of order.

The Commission has also instructed the Public Authority (Income Tax Department) to convene periodic conferences and seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concernedofficials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka, who passed the order in this matter on Thursday, 28 March 2019, has observed that in a similar matter where information regarding charitable trusts claiming exemption u/s 12A of the IT Act, 1961 was sought, the Division Bench of the Commission had, while observing that the matter certainly involved larger public interest since the Government was granting exemptions to the Third Party from payment of taxes, had allowed for disclosure of information.

The appellant in the present case, Mohanjit Singh Bagga told the Commission that issues raised by him pertained to the larger public interest, the Appellant submitted that once Charitable Trusts were claiming exemption from the Income Tax under Section 12AA/80G (5B) of the IT Act 1961, their details ought to be disclosed in the public domain since they performed public activities and accepted donations or funds from the general public and exemption/grants from the public exchequer. He had sought information regarding the action taken on his letters of 26 May 2015, 2 July 2015 and 19 January 2017 with regard to Guru Govind Singhji Charitable Trust, notice and orders passed, and cancellation of any exemption certificate issued by the IT Department.

The Appellant told the Commission that partial information was provided and details regarding notice and orders passed/cancellation of any exemption certificate issued by the IT Department was not disclosed.

The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) through a letter (29 May 2017) provided a point wise response to the Appellant denying information on two points on the ground that it related to a Third Party.

With regard to the partial information provided by the CPIO, it was stated that the Registration u/s 12AA of the IT Act, 1961 granted to Guru Govind Singhji Charitable Trust through an order (18 October 1993) was withdrawn under office order of 11 January 2017. Furthermore, approval u/s 80G (5B) of the Act to this trust was withdrawn through an order of 19 January 2017. Dissatisfied by the response, the Appellant approached the first appellate authority (FAA). The FAA, through its order of 04 August 2017 denied information u/s 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act, 2005.