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Central Information Commission
CIC/OK/A/2008/00766-AD
Dated May 19, 2009
Name of the Applicant : Maj. [Retd.] P M Ravindran
Name of the Public Authority : Southern Railway
Background
1. The Applicant filed an RTI application dated 01.10.2007 seeking information
about construction of Railway Bridges and Flyovers and about the formation of the
Salem Division from the PIO, Divisional Office, Southern Railway, Palakkad. The
various points on which information were sought are as follows:
1.1. Copies of orders for the formation of the Salem Division including verbal
orders, date of receipt of orders, authority issuing such orders etc.
1.2. With respect to the Railway overbridges under-construction in the Palakkad
Division (including those that are likely to come under the Salem Division,
when formed):
1.2.1. Total number of bridges,
1.2.2. For each bridge:
1.2.2.1. Estimated cost of construction;
1.2.2.2. Details of the contractor who has been awarded the contract and
the cost for which it was awarded;
1.2.2.3. Quantum of work (as a percentage of the complete work) that
has been completed, amount paid for the completed work, bills
pending for the completed work, reasons for non-completion of
work, authority responsible for progressing the work, highest
official responsible for monitoring and taking decisions related to
the work and their addresses, email id etc, cost of escalation
expected and the date by which the work is expected to be
completed.
2. The PIO, Palghat transferred the RTI application to the Construction
organisation/Salem and Podanur vide his letter dated 09.10.2007. When despite
passage of stipulated period the information as sought by the Appellant was not
furnished, the Appellant sought redressal of his grievance by filing of the First
Appeal dated 23.11.2007. Apart from the RTI application, the Appellant in the
said First Appeal also specifically referred to the provisions of the Sections 7(3)
(b), 7(6) and Section 20 of the RTI Act 2005. On the same date, viz. 23.11.07
the Divisional Railway Manager[Works] addressed a letter to the PIO,
Construction, Southern Railway reiterating the transfer of the RTI application vide
letter dated 09.10.2007 and also stating that a reminder from the Appellant was
being forwarded therewith.
3. The Appellant challenged the contents of the letter dated 23.11.2007 issued by
the Divisional Railway Manager vide another First Appeal dated 03.12.2007
contending that the First Appeal invoking provisions of Section 19(1) of the RTI
Act 2005, submitted by the Appellant on 23.11.2007 had been wrongly termed as
a reminder while transferring the same. While referring to the provisions of
Section 5(2), 7(6) and 20 of the RTI Act 2005, the Appellant furthermore argued
that since orders were received by the Palakkad Division for the formation of the
Salem Division, the information sought has nothing to do with the Salem Division
or the zonal office per se, and insisted that the said information be provided by
the Palakkad Division itself.
4. The Respondent Public Authority provided some information along with the
Gazette notification indicating the formation of the Salem division vide letters
dated 01.01.2008, 03.01.2008 and 14.01.2008 issued by the Chief
Engineer/S&RB & PIO CN/S Rly/Chennai Egmore -8. However, the information
supplied was inadequate and the Appellant accordingly responded back vide letter
dated 10.01.2008.
5. Being dissatisfied with the incomplete and inadequate information supplied by the
Respondent Public Authority in piece meal, the Appellant filed an Appeal on
18.04.2008 before the CIC.
6. The Bench of Mrs. Annapurna Dixit, Information Commissioner, scheduled the
hearing for May 15, 2009 and a communication dated 29.04.2009 was accordingly
sent to the parties intimating the date of hearing of the appeal. At the request of
the Appellant vide email dated May 6, 2009 seeking exemption from personal
appearance and requesting for video conference, the hearing was re-scheduled for
May 26, 2009 to be held through video conference and a communication dated
15.05.2009 was accordingly sent to the parties intimating the changed date of
hearing of the appeal.
7. Mr. Sitaraman, Appellate Authority and Mr. Kandaswamy, PIO were present from
the Palakkad Division, while Mr. R T Diwakar, CPIO and Mr. Jayagopal,
APIO(Construction, Chennai) were present through Video Conferencing from the
Chennai Division of the Public Authority.
8. Maj. [Retd.] P M Ravindran, was present through Video Conferencing during the
hearing.
Decision
8. The Appellant in his Appeal before the Commission reiterated the contents of the
RTI application as also the entire sequence of events till date. The Respondents
submitted their response to the appeal vide communication dated 19.05.2009.
The Respondent Public Authority through Addl. DRM/PGT informed the CIC about
the various developments in the matter which are nothing but basically a
repetition of the submissions as made by the Appellant. Admittedly the
information provided by Respondent Public Authority vide letter number
W.571/CN/PTJ dated 01.01.2008 was incomplete. However since the Palghat
Division held limited information pertaining to only the query no. 1.1 of the RTI
application, which has already been provided, the Addl. DRM/PGT vide his
communication dated 19.05.2009 sought that the CE/S & RB/CN/MS also remain
present during the hearing vide Video Conference on 26.05.2009.
9. The Commission received an email from the Appellant dated 25.05.2009
reporting about the receipt of some information spread over 21 pages received
from the Respondent Public Authority and yet being incomplete and unreliable
information. From the perusal of the records as also the various submissions
made by both parties from time to time, the Commission concludes that a point-
wise decision is called for in the matter taking care of each information sought by
the Appellant. With reference to e-mail dated 25.5.09, it is observed from
arguments submitted during the hearing, that the Appellant was dissatisfied with
the information received about the estimated cost of construction, while the
Respondents submitted that all available information in this regard has already
been provided. Hence it was agreed that the concerned Respondent shall furnish
an Affidavit with regard to the point 1.2.2.1 stating that no further information
about the cost of construction was available with the Respondent Public Authority
also giving the particulars about the 5 out of 78 cases in which no information
has been provided at all. The information about the current status indicating
the details of the contractors who have been awarded the contract and the cost at
which the contract has been awarded as sought by the Appellant in the point
1.2.2.2. is directed to be furnished. In so far as information sought against point
1.2.2.3 is concerned, about the quantum of work completed, the information was
sought by the Appellant in relation to the estimated budget amount, actual
amount spent on the construction and the ratio of the projected budget as against
the amount spent reflecting the ratio/portion of work completed. Accordingly the
information about the quantum of work completed may be provided as a ratio of
the total estimated cost of construction. It is pertinent to note here that
information about only 16 out of 37 cases where such construction work is in
progress have been provided at all. Hence the Commission hereby directs that
complete information be provided now. With respect to the information sought
about the reasons for non completion of the work (1.2.2.3.4), the predicted dates
of completion of projects may be given by the Respondent. Information like
‘Work in progress’, ‘GAD not approved’, ‘50% work completed’ etc. , provided only
in only 6 cases, were found inadequate and are definitely not acceptable. Hence
the Respondent Public Authority is directed to provide proper reasons as per the
terms/ factors built in the project proposal and terms stipulated in the contract
for all cases and not just 6. Any information from the file records, file notings,
correspondences etc., reasoning such delay of the work, shall be provided from
the official records. However, in the event that no such information is available on
the official records/files etc, besides that already furnished to the Appellant, the
Respondent Public Authority shall furnish an Affidavit stating so. The Commission
also directs that with respect to the remaining information , as sought by the
Appellant (ref. e-mail dated 25.5.09) , all information as it exists in the official
records with the Public Authority or with any other Public Authority (after transfer
of the RTI request under intimation to the Appellant) may be furnished to the
Appellant along with the aforementioned Affidavit by 30 June, 2009.
10. The PIOs are also directed to show cause why a penalty of Rs. 250/- per day
should not be imposed on them for not providing complete information to the
Appellant within the mandatory period stipulated in the RTI Act.. A written
response to this may be furnished to the Commission by the Respondents before
16 June 2009. Both the Respondents (Palakkad and Chennai) will also be heard
via videoconference on 16 June, 2009 at 3p.m. in this regard.
11. As pointed out by the Commissioner during the hearing, the Appellant has sought
a compensation of Rs.1000/- under Section 19(8)(b) for detriment suffered in
pursuing this appeal . It is the Commission’s considered opinion that ‘public
interest’ is central to democracy and the nature of government itself and that the
Appellant has suffered detriment in pursuit of an important issue in the interest
of ‘general welfare’ and ‘common well being’ in terms of physical and mental
harassment which he had to undergo and also of expenses incurred by him on
stationery and on secretarial assistance. Accordingly, the Commission directs the
Public Authority to compensate the Appellant by paying him Rs. 1000/- to meet
the expenses incurred by him on stationery and secretarial assistance , by 20
June, 2009, under intimation to the Commission.
12. The appeal is accordingly disposed of on the above terms.
(Annapurna Dixit)
Information Commissioner
Authenticated true copy:
(G. Subramanian)
Asst. Registrar
Cc:
1. Major (Retd.) P M Ravindran
2/18, ‘Aathira’, Sivapuri
Kalpathy – 678 003
2. The Public Information Officer
Southern Railway
O/o Chief Administrative Officer
(Construction),
Egmore
Chennai -8
3. The Public Information Officer
Southern Railway
O/o Chief Administrative Officer
(Construction),
Egmore
Chennai -8
4. The PIO
Division Office, Southern Railway
Palakkad,
Kerala
5. The Appellate Authority
Divisional Office, Southern Railway
Palakkad,
Kerala
6. Officer in charge, NIC
7. Press E Group, CIC

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The best order by an information commissioner under the right to information act

  • 1. Central Information Commission CIC/OK/A/2008/00766-AD Dated May 19, 2009 Name of the Applicant : Maj. [Retd.] P M Ravindran Name of the Public Authority : Southern Railway Background 1. The Applicant filed an RTI application dated 01.10.2007 seeking information about construction of Railway Bridges and Flyovers and about the formation of the Salem Division from the PIO, Divisional Office, Southern Railway, Palakkad. The various points on which information were sought are as follows: 1.1. Copies of orders for the formation of the Salem Division including verbal orders, date of receipt of orders, authority issuing such orders etc. 1.2. With respect to the Railway overbridges under-construction in the Palakkad Division (including those that are likely to come under the Salem Division, when formed): 1.2.1. Total number of bridges, 1.2.2. For each bridge: 1.2.2.1. Estimated cost of construction; 1.2.2.2. Details of the contractor who has been awarded the contract and the cost for which it was awarded; 1.2.2.3. Quantum of work (as a percentage of the complete work) that has been completed, amount paid for the completed work, bills pending for the completed work, reasons for non-completion of work, authority responsible for progressing the work, highest official responsible for monitoring and taking decisions related to the work and their addresses, email id etc, cost of escalation expected and the date by which the work is expected to be completed. 2. The PIO, Palghat transferred the RTI application to the Construction organisation/Salem and Podanur vide his letter dated 09.10.2007. When despite passage of stipulated period the information as sought by the Appellant was not furnished, the Appellant sought redressal of his grievance by filing of the First Appeal dated 23.11.2007. Apart from the RTI application, the Appellant in the said First Appeal also specifically referred to the provisions of the Sections 7(3) (b), 7(6) and Section 20 of the RTI Act 2005. On the same date, viz. 23.11.07 the Divisional Railway Manager[Works] addressed a letter to the PIO,
  • 2. Construction, Southern Railway reiterating the transfer of the RTI application vide letter dated 09.10.2007 and also stating that a reminder from the Appellant was being forwarded therewith. 3. The Appellant challenged the contents of the letter dated 23.11.2007 issued by the Divisional Railway Manager vide another First Appeal dated 03.12.2007 contending that the First Appeal invoking provisions of Section 19(1) of the RTI Act 2005, submitted by the Appellant on 23.11.2007 had been wrongly termed as a reminder while transferring the same. While referring to the provisions of Section 5(2), 7(6) and 20 of the RTI Act 2005, the Appellant furthermore argued that since orders were received by the Palakkad Division for the formation of the Salem Division, the information sought has nothing to do with the Salem Division or the zonal office per se, and insisted that the said information be provided by the Palakkad Division itself. 4. The Respondent Public Authority provided some information along with the Gazette notification indicating the formation of the Salem division vide letters dated 01.01.2008, 03.01.2008 and 14.01.2008 issued by the Chief Engineer/S&RB & PIO CN/S Rly/Chennai Egmore -8. However, the information supplied was inadequate and the Appellant accordingly responded back vide letter dated 10.01.2008. 5. Being dissatisfied with the incomplete and inadequate information supplied by the Respondent Public Authority in piece meal, the Appellant filed an Appeal on 18.04.2008 before the CIC. 6. The Bench of Mrs. Annapurna Dixit, Information Commissioner, scheduled the hearing for May 15, 2009 and a communication dated 29.04.2009 was accordingly sent to the parties intimating the date of hearing of the appeal. At the request of the Appellant vide email dated May 6, 2009 seeking exemption from personal appearance and requesting for video conference, the hearing was re-scheduled for May 26, 2009 to be held through video conference and a communication dated 15.05.2009 was accordingly sent to the parties intimating the changed date of hearing of the appeal. 7. Mr. Sitaraman, Appellate Authority and Mr. Kandaswamy, PIO were present from the Palakkad Division, while Mr. R T Diwakar, CPIO and Mr. Jayagopal, APIO(Construction, Chennai) were present through Video Conferencing from the Chennai Division of the Public Authority. 8. Maj. [Retd.] P M Ravindran, was present through Video Conferencing during the hearing.
  • 3. Decision 8. The Appellant in his Appeal before the Commission reiterated the contents of the RTI application as also the entire sequence of events till date. The Respondents submitted their response to the appeal vide communication dated 19.05.2009. The Respondent Public Authority through Addl. DRM/PGT informed the CIC about the various developments in the matter which are nothing but basically a repetition of the submissions as made by the Appellant. Admittedly the information provided by Respondent Public Authority vide letter number W.571/CN/PTJ dated 01.01.2008 was incomplete. However since the Palghat Division held limited information pertaining to only the query no. 1.1 of the RTI application, which has already been provided, the Addl. DRM/PGT vide his communication dated 19.05.2009 sought that the CE/S & RB/CN/MS also remain present during the hearing vide Video Conference on 26.05.2009. 9. The Commission received an email from the Appellant dated 25.05.2009 reporting about the receipt of some information spread over 21 pages received from the Respondent Public Authority and yet being incomplete and unreliable information. From the perusal of the records as also the various submissions made by both parties from time to time, the Commission concludes that a point- wise decision is called for in the matter taking care of each information sought by the Appellant. With reference to e-mail dated 25.5.09, it is observed from arguments submitted during the hearing, that the Appellant was dissatisfied with the information received about the estimated cost of construction, while the Respondents submitted that all available information in this regard has already been provided. Hence it was agreed that the concerned Respondent shall furnish an Affidavit with regard to the point 1.2.2.1 stating that no further information about the cost of construction was available with the Respondent Public Authority also giving the particulars about the 5 out of 78 cases in which no information has been provided at all. The information about the current status indicating the details of the contractors who have been awarded the contract and the cost at which the contract has been awarded as sought by the Appellant in the point 1.2.2.2. is directed to be furnished. In so far as information sought against point 1.2.2.3 is concerned, about the quantum of work completed, the information was sought by the Appellant in relation to the estimated budget amount, actual amount spent on the construction and the ratio of the projected budget as against the amount spent reflecting the ratio/portion of work completed. Accordingly the information about the quantum of work completed may be provided as a ratio of the total estimated cost of construction. It is pertinent to note here that information about only 16 out of 37 cases where such construction work is in
  • 4. progress have been provided at all. Hence the Commission hereby directs that complete information be provided now. With respect to the information sought about the reasons for non completion of the work (1.2.2.3.4), the predicted dates of completion of projects may be given by the Respondent. Information like ‘Work in progress’, ‘GAD not approved’, ‘50% work completed’ etc. , provided only in only 6 cases, were found inadequate and are definitely not acceptable. Hence the Respondent Public Authority is directed to provide proper reasons as per the terms/ factors built in the project proposal and terms stipulated in the contract for all cases and not just 6. Any information from the file records, file notings, correspondences etc., reasoning such delay of the work, shall be provided from the official records. However, in the event that no such information is available on the official records/files etc, besides that already furnished to the Appellant, the Respondent Public Authority shall furnish an Affidavit stating so. The Commission also directs that with respect to the remaining information , as sought by the Appellant (ref. e-mail dated 25.5.09) , all information as it exists in the official records with the Public Authority or with any other Public Authority (after transfer of the RTI request under intimation to the Appellant) may be furnished to the Appellant along with the aforementioned Affidavit by 30 June, 2009. 10. The PIOs are also directed to show cause why a penalty of Rs. 250/- per day should not be imposed on them for not providing complete information to the Appellant within the mandatory period stipulated in the RTI Act.. A written response to this may be furnished to the Commission by the Respondents before 16 June 2009. Both the Respondents (Palakkad and Chennai) will also be heard via videoconference on 16 June, 2009 at 3p.m. in this regard. 11. As pointed out by the Commissioner during the hearing, the Appellant has sought a compensation of Rs.1000/- under Section 19(8)(b) for detriment suffered in pursuing this appeal . It is the Commission’s considered opinion that ‘public interest’ is central to democracy and the nature of government itself and that the Appellant has suffered detriment in pursuit of an important issue in the interest of ‘general welfare’ and ‘common well being’ in terms of physical and mental harassment which he had to undergo and also of expenses incurred by him on stationery and on secretarial assistance. Accordingly, the Commission directs the Public Authority to compensate the Appellant by paying him Rs. 1000/- to meet
  • 5. the expenses incurred by him on stationery and secretarial assistance , by 20 June, 2009, under intimation to the Commission. 12. The appeal is accordingly disposed of on the above terms. (Annapurna Dixit) Information Commissioner Authenticated true copy: (G. Subramanian) Asst. Registrar Cc: 1. Major (Retd.) P M Ravindran 2/18, ‘Aathira’, Sivapuri Kalpathy – 678 003 2. The Public Information Officer Southern Railway O/o Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), Egmore Chennai -8 3. The Public Information Officer Southern Railway O/o Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), Egmore Chennai -8 4. The PIO Division Office, Southern Railway Palakkad, Kerala 5. The Appellate Authority Divisional Office, Southern Railway Palakkad, Kerala 6. Officer in charge, NIC 7. Press E Group, CIC