Central Information Commission: The complainant being dissatisfied with the information being provided by the First Appellate Authority, filed a complaint before the Central Information Commission (‘The Commission’) wherein the Information Commissioner, Heeralal Samariya held that prima facie the case of denial of information is made out against the Public Information Officer (‘PIO’) for not providing appropriate reply to the Right To Information (‘RTI’) Application regarding residential plots allotted by Delhi Development Authority (‘DDA’) on leasehold basis which are misused for commercial activity, and accordingly the ‘misuse charges’ levied by DDA on such properties.
In the case, the complainant had sought the following information:
Certified copy of the latest policy as on 15-02-2022 used by DDA to levy ‘misuse charges’ on residential plots/properties allotted by DDA on leasehold basis if used for commercial purpose.
Formula or method to calculate ‘misuse charges’ on residential properties allotted by DDA on leasehold basis if used for commercial purpose.
Procedure information for regular audit of such calculations being done by DDA accounts, to verify if the calculations are valid with respect to the current policy of misuse.
The Chief Public Information Officer (‘CPIO’) had furnished a reply to the RTI Application stating that there exists no misuse policy as on 15-02-2022. The complainant, being dissatisfied with the information furnished, filed first appeal wherein the Officer replied with the same information as before that there exists no misuse policy issued by DDA.
The CPIO in its submission in the present complaint attached the copy of the policy for the calculation of ‘misuse charges’ which mentioned the calculation formula as well. It was further submitted that the calculation of audit was being done by DDA accounts branch.
The Commission observed that the PIO had initially denied having any information relating to queries raised by the complainant in the RTI Application and the authorized representative of the PIO failed to provide any plausible and reasonable information when questioned for reasons for the same.
The Commission noted that prima facie, case of denial of information or furnishing incomplete and misleading information was made out against the PIO and expressed severe displeasure over the conduct of PIO for not providing appropriate reply to the RTI Application.
The then PIO was directed to file a written submission to justify why actions should not be initiated against him/her under section 20 of the RTI Act, 2005 for furnishing misleading and contradictory information.
[Neeraj Aggarwal v. Public Information Officer, 2022 SCC OnLine CIC 559, decided on 14-12-2022]