Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Neeraj Kumar Gupta (Information Commissioner) addressed a matter wherein it was alleged that the respondent intentionally provided an evasive reply by stating that the information sought was not clear, hence issue of prompt response of CPIO was raised.

Complainant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 before the Central Public Information Officer, Reserve Bank of India seeking the information as under:

CPIO informed the applicant that the information sought was not specific/clear and it was not able to furnish information on the matter.

The complainant filed a complaint under Section 18 of the RTI Act before the Commission requesting to take appropriate legal action against the CPIO under Section 20 of the RTI Act.


The Commission observed that the preliminary information sought were wide/general and non-specific and largely based on the situational queries.

Further, the complainant contended that information sought had not been provided by the respondent which amounts to deemed refusal of information of the complainant.

Additionally, it was stated that, the CPIO is only a communicator of information based on the records held in the office and hence, he cannot expect to do research work to deduce anything from the material therein and then supply it to him.

Coram observed that while examining the complaint under Section 18 of the RTI Act, 2005, the CIC has no jurisdiction to direct disclosure of any information.

The above-said legal position had been authoritatively settled by the Supreme Court in Chief Commissioner v. State of Manipur, Civil Appeal Nos. 10787-10788 of 2011.

Hence, Commission opined that the respondent has already provided a suitable reply to the complainant and prima facie the adequacy of information cannot be adjudicated by the Commission while examining the complaint and there is no malafide intention of obstructing the information.

Therefore, no action is warranted under Section 20 of the RTI Act.

In view of the above, complaints were disposed of. [Shishir Gupta v. CPIO, RBI; 2022 SCC OnLine CIC 159, decided on 28-3-2022]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Saroj Punhani (Information Commissioner), harmonised the conflicting interests of the parties keeping with the letter and spirit of the Right to Information Act.

Following information was sought by the appellant:

  1. “Provide a copy of Thesis titled ‘Studies on some nitrogen fixing genes of Azotobacter vinelandi submitted/authored by Umesh Kumar Bageshwar which is catalogued in Dr Zakir Husain Library of Jamia Millia Islamia University under Access No. 130906. 
  1. If the said Thesis is not available for circulation, provide the reason(s) for inaccessibility/restricted circulation of the said Thesis with a copy of instructions, if any restricting such circulation.
  1. lf the said Thesis circulation is restricted, provide the guidelines/policy that govern restricted access in Dr. Zakir Husain Library of Jamia Milia Islamia University with a copy of categories of items that can be placed in restricted access.”

CPIO submitted that the thesis sought for by the appellant pertains to the work of a third party who had categorically informed the University not to disclose the thesis without having an NDA signed with him by the requestor concerned.

Further, CPIO explained that the averred scholar has already got a US Patent and he intends to file for an Indian Patent too with respect to the research wok documented in the averred thesis and has also apprehended that a number of foreign companies are trying to gain unrestricted access to the said work for commercially exploiting it without his consent.

In view of the commercial viability of the said thesis and the protected interest of the scholar and his guide, the FAA invoked Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act in order to deny the information to the appellant.

Adding to the above, emphasis was laid on the point that the research scholar informed the University that if any request for access to the said thesis comes that should be facilitated through him.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Commission observed that the appellant primarily harped on the relevant University Ordinances to insist that the thesis of the averred research scholar ought to be disclosed in the public domain as once the scholar submits the thesis to the University, it ceases to be the property of the scholar and hence the consent or dissent of the said scholar is not consequential to the disclosure of the thesis in the public domain.

In Commission’s view, the arguments of the representative of the Appellant questioning the originality of the said thesis or challenging the Patent filing on the grounds that the idea invested in the thesis is no more ‘novel’ are more in the nature of self-serving arguments or at best calls for the intervention of the University administration to assess if any procedural or ethical lacunae is pertinent in the award of degree based on the averred thesis in the context of the serious allegations of the Appellant.

Coram stated that the appellant may note that merely because University Ordinance prescribes publication of the thesis does not take away the protection available to the disclosure of the same under the RTI Act if exemption of Sections 8 and 9 therein is applied and justified.

thesis publication of the research scholars cannot be reasonably even brought under any of the suo motu components of disclosure envisaged under Section 4 of the RTI Act, thereby reinforcing the proposition that the protection of Section 8 and 9 exemptions is very much available to the CPIO in the instant case.

Further, adverting to the peculiarity of the instant case in the context of the serious allegations of the Appellant and the admitted stance of the CPIO that the third party intimated that the thesis be withheld from public disclosure or publication, the Commission deemed it expedient to harmonise the conflicting interests of the parties concerned in keeping with the letter and spirit of the RTI Act.

In view of the above discussion, Commission directed CPIO to provide a copy of the relevant and available instructions received from the third party requesting for the complete confidentiality of the said thesis. or in the absence of said record, any other corresponding document as available should be provided to the Appellant.

CPIO was also directed to provide the relevant and available guidelines governing restricted access of thesis submitted by the scholars of the University to the Appellant, in case the same was not available, a categorical statement shall be stated in the CPIO’s reply.

Appellant was at liberty to approach the University for the purpose of facilitating access to the thesis subject to the signing of NDA in consultation with the concerned research scholar.

Note for UGC

Instant case impliedly suggests that despite relevant University Ordinances stipulating access permission to the submitted thesis of scholars, the prerogative lies with the University to withhold one such thesis in absolute confidentiality on the grounds of commercial viability and market competition. If that be the message that the Respondent University is conveying, it may be assessed if the said prerogative of the University is backed by any UGC Regulations and if the same is conducive to the interests of the research community at large.

Hence, in regard to the above, Vice-Chancellor, JMI shall consider placing in the public domain any exceptions to the rule of granting access to the submitted thesis of the scholars in order to dispel the apprehensions of other fellow research scholars or the general public at large and to avoid casting aspersions on the work of the scholars.

In view of the above discussion, appeal was disposed of. [Rajeev Kumar v. CPIO, Jamia Milia Islamia; 2021 SCC OnLine CIC 4459; decided on 12-04-2021]

Advocates before the Commission:

Appellant: Represented by Varun Sharma, Advocate through the intra-video conference.

Respondent: Dr Shakeb Ahmad Khan, Professor & CPIO present through intra- video conference.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Prathiba M. Singh, J., upheld that order of the Central Information Commission whereby a penalty of Rs 10000 was imposed on the petitioners for changing stands while not providing the information as sought by the applicant under the RTI Act.

The instant petition was filed by two officers working with the Union Bank of India as Central Public Information Officers (CPIO).

The above-two officers challenged the impugned Order passed by the Central Information Commission vide which penalties amounting to Rs 10,000 were imposed upon them.


An RTI application was filed by the applicant who was the Chief Manager at the Union Bank of India wherein he sought the following information:

Details of the Board approval along with justification for giving exemption with regard to 3 years branch head service.

The Office of the CPIO had informed the applicant that copy of the board note, being an internal document of commercial confidence would be exempted from disclosure.

Even the appellant authority stated that the copy of the board approval was exempted from being disclosed under Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act.

In the second appeal with regard to the matter, CIC found that there was no reason why complete information was not provided to the applicant and held that the responses provided were rather incomplete and evasive. Therefore, a show-cause notice to the CPIOs of the bank was issued.

On receiving the above show cause notice, the CPIOs responded stating that the information which was sought could not be found on record. Due to the change in stand by the petitioners, CIC imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 under Section 20 of the RTI Act.

Analysis and Decision

Bench referred to this Court’s decision in R.K Jain v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 10957  wherein it was recognized that the CPIO, being the custodian of information or documents sought for, is primarily responsible under the scheme of the RTI Act to supply the information, and in cases of default, the penal action is to be invoked against the CPIO only.

In the decision of Registrar of Companies v. Dharmendra Kumar Garg (WP(C) 11271/2009, decided on 1st June, 2012), the role of CPIOs under the RTI Act was elaborately dealt with.

Further, in the decision of J.P. Agrawal v. Union of India, (WP(C) 7232/2009, decided on 4th August, 2011) the Single Judge recognized that:

CPIOs/PIOs are not merely “post offices” and have a crucial responsibility in facilitating the purpose of the RTI Act.

 In light of the above decisions, the High Court laid down the following principles:

i)  CPIO/PIOs cannot withhold information without reasonable cause;

ii)  A PIO/CPIO cannot be held responsible if they have genuinely rejected the information sought on valid grounds permissible under the Act. A mere difference of opinion on the part of CIC cannot lead to an imposition of penalty under Section 20 of the RTI Act;

iii)  Government departments ought not to be permitted to evade disclosure of information. Diligence has to be exercised by the said departments, by conducting a thorough search and enquiry, before concluding that the information is not available or traceable;

iv) Every effort should be made to locate information, and the fear of disciplinary action would work as a deterrent against the suppression of information for vested interests;

v) PIO/CPIO cannot function merely as “post offices” but instead are responsible to ensure that the information sought under the RTI Act is provided;

vi) A PIO/CPIO has to apply their mind, analyze the material, and then direct disclosure or give reasons for non-disclosure. The PIO cannot rely upon subordinate officers;

vii) Duty of compliance lies upon the PIO/CPIO. The exercise of power by the PIO/CPIO has to be with objectivity and seriousness the PIO/CPIO cannot be casual in their approach.

viii) Information cannot be refused without reasonable cause.


Hence, the Court held that under the RTI Act, the CPIOs have a solemn responsibility.

Section 5(3) requires that every CPIO or SPIO shall deal with requests for information and `render reasonable assistance’ to the persons seeking information.

CPIOs or SPIOs can seek assistance from higher/other officials in the organisation in order to enable them to furnish the information sought for the `proper discharge’ of their duties, as per Section 5(4).

 In the present matter, CPIOs changed their stands which would go on to show that there was an intention to withhold certain important documents or information, leading to the finding of mala fides and unreasonable conduct.

In light of the above, Court opined that the penalty imposed could not be faulted with. However, considering the fact that both the CPIOs since retired from the service of the Bank, the penalty was reduced to Rs 5,000 each. [Rakesh Kumar Gupta (Erstwhile CPIO) Union Bank of India v. CIC, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 194, decided on 22-01-2021]

Advocates for the parties:

For the Petitioners: Mr O.P. Gaggar, Advocate.

For the Respondents: Mr Gaurang Kanth, Standing Counsel with Mr Aman Singh Bakhshi, Advocate.

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Saroj Punhani, J., directed the CPIO of CBI to provide a cogent and descriptive justification for denying information to the appellant seeking certain information relating to lookout notice, detention notice, etc. issued against Vijay Mallya.

In the instant matter, appellant has sought information through eight points pertaining to lookout notice/detention notice/circular (LoC) issued on October 2015 relating to Vijay Mallya:

  • Furnish a copy of Lookout notice/detention notice /Lookout Circular (LoC) issued on October 12, 2015, and /or October 16, 2015, and or Lookout notice/detention notice / Lookout Circular (LoC) in October 2015 relating to Vijay Mallya.
  • Furnish a Copy of Lookout circular (LoC) inform notice/Lookout on arrival Circular (LoC) etc. issued on 24 November, 2015, or last week in November 2015 relating to Vijay Mallya.
  • Provide the Name and Designation of Officer who authorized to change/ alter /from Lookout notice /Lookout circular (LoC) detention notice issued on October 12, 2015, or October 16, 2015, to Lookout Circular (LoC) inform notice/Lookout on arrival Circular (LoC) etc issued in last week of November, 2015 or November 24, 2015, relating to Vijay Mallya.
  • Provide a Copy of Act, Guidelines, Circulars, Notifications, office Memorandum Rules and Regulations, Copy of Act etc relating to Lookout notice/ detention notice /Lookout Circular (LoC) was issued on October 12, 2015 / Lookout circular (Loc) in October 2015 relating to Vijay Mallya.
  • Furnish a Copy of Act, Guidelines, Circulars, Notifications, Office Memorandum Rules and Regulations, Copy of Act etc relating to Lookout Circular (LoC) inform notice etc issued in last week of November 2015, or November 24, 2015, relating to Vijay Mallya.
  • Telephone Number and Email Id of central public Information officer and Appellate Authority as per official Memorandum of Dept of personnel and training available on > Circulars.
  •  Exact web link of the above information on your official web site in compliance to Dept of Personnel &_ Training, circulars guidelines e.g.No.1/1/2013-IR/2014 uploading of RTI replies etc. issued from time to time.

On being dissatisfied with CPIO’s information, the appellant had filed a first appeal dated 10-11-2018, later FAA’s order upheld the CPIO’s reply.

Appellant stated that the square denial of the information sought for under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act by the CPIO & the FAA is not appropriate as the case pertains to tenable allegations of corruption against Vijay Mallya for defaulting a loan of over Rs 9000 crore which is effectively public money and therefore the said information was crucial for the citizens.

CPIO submitted that primarily the appellant’s queries do not seem to be very clear in terms of the guidelines he referred to. Further, it was stated that at the time of the RTI application’s reply, the extradition case of Vijay Mallya was pending before the Court of Law in London and as on date two cases against him are pending investigation, in one of these cases the Chargesheet had been filed, while in the other case, the investigation is underway.

In view of the above-stated reasons, the information sought for was denied to the appellant under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act.


The commission observed that neither the CPIO’s reply nor the FAA’s order conveyed the proper reasons for invoking Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act.

Bench directed the CPIO to provide a reply to the appellant incorporating a cogent and descriptive justification for denying the information sought for under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act.

Appeal was disposed of in view of the above-stated. [Vihar Durve v. CPIO, CBI; 2021 SCC OnLine CIC 2; decided on 12-01-2021]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Amita Pandove (Information Commissioner), came down heavily on CPIO, All India Radio for abdicating his duties.

Appellant filed an RTI application seeking information on the following points:

  1. “Have the security personnel, i.e., armed and /or unarmed security guards and security supervisors ever been deployed in All India Radio Directorate premises through any private security agency sponsored by Director General of Resettlement (DGR).
  2. If so, was the extra amount such as Relieving Charges etc. paid to the security agency for the arrangement of substitute of the Guards availing weekly off or other holidays as admissible to him/them in accordance with DGR guidelines.
  3. In the event of payment of extra amount such as Relieving Charges etc., how were the substitutes of the Guards or by extra hours of duty by any other guards within the contracted strength of Guards.
  4. In the event of the arrangement of substitute of any Guard proceeding on admissible weekly off/holiday from within their contracted strength of Guard, how was the payment against extra hours of duty performed by such guards regulated by payment of overtime or from payment of Relieving Charges etc.”

Instant RTI application was transferred by the RTI Cell to S.K. Tiwary, DDA (Archives) DG: AIR. CPIO had informed the appellant that AIR: Installations/transmitters were covered under the Indian Official Secrets Act, 1923 and therefore were prohibited places. Further CPIO stated that the information sought at point 1 to 4 were in the form of query which could not be replied by the CPIO as per the relevant provisions of the RTI Act.

Present second appeal was filed in light of unsatisfactory reply being furnished by the respondent.

Bench observed that the denial of the information by the respondent was only based on the argument that the disclosure of information may jeopardize the safety and security of AIR: installations and accordingly he invoked Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act.

Section 22 of the RTI Act was referred, which stated as follows:

“22. Act to have overriding effect – The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act.”

Bench stated that the implication of the above Section has to be read into the present matter, wherein, even if the protocol of any other nature subsisted, it was the statutory duty of the CPIO to respond on the RTI application by either providing the information or denying it under appropriate exemption clause of the RTI Act.

Since no reasonable justification was given by the CPIO, Commission attributes the mala fide intention of the CPIO per se in the deemed refusal.

Commission warned the CPIO to remain careful in future while dealing with the matter under the RTI Act.

CPIO is not at liberty to rely on other law/rules/orders/circulars for the time being in force, in matters of RTI Act. It is a statutory duty cast upon him to affect relevant provisions according to the circumstances and he cannot abdicate his powers enlarged unto him under RTI Act, as has been done in the instant case.

Supreme Court’s observation in the matter of CPIO, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agarwal,2009 SCC OnLine Del 2714, held that:

“There can be no doubt that the Act is premised on disclosure being the norm, and refusal, the exception.”

Hence, in view of the above CPIO was directed to provide relevant information to the appellant as sought in the RTI application. [Rajesh Babu v. CPIO, Asstt. DG (Security) Prasar Bharati, (India’s Public Service Broadcaster), Directorate General, All India Radio; Second Appeal No. CIC/DGAAR/A/2018/635823; decided on 07-10-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Amit Pandove (Information Commissioner) while addressing the present appeal observed the essence of Section 6(3) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

In the instant, RTI application information was sought pertaining to the Group-A officers who were drawing reimbursement of tuition fee for their children along with those who had adopted children.

CPIO provided a reply to the appellant and on being dissatisfied, appellant filed the first appeal, FAA upheld the CPIO’s reply.

Aggrieved by the above order, the second appeal was filed under Section 19 of the Right to Information Act on the ground that incomplete information was furnished by the respondent. By the second appeal, the applicant requested Commission to take disciplinary action against the CPIO concerned and sought direction towards CPIO to provide the information.

Appellant submitted that the respondent furnished partial information in response to his RTI application. It was further submitted that the adoption certificate was not provided to him till date on the ground that the original documents are not available in respondent’s office.

Appellant contended that if the service book was not available in their office, the respondent should have transferred the RTI application to the division concerned as per the provision contained in Section 6(3) of the RTI Act.

Respondent submitted that since the then CPIO, was not sure as to where the service book was, he did not transfer the RTI application.


Commission observed that as per Section 6(3) of the RTI Act, where an application is made to a public authority but the subject matter of the RTI application pertains to another public authority, the CPIO of the public authority receiving the RTI application has to transfer the same to the public authority concerned within 5 days of receipt of the application.

In the present case, the then CPIO instead of transferring of application to the authority concerned merely stated that the information sought for was not available in their office.

The above-stated merely indicates the vacuous and lackadaisical approach towards matters relating to RTI.

Commission taking every serious view of the lapse, stated that,

“Public information officers are entrusted with the responsibility of providing information to the citizen under the RTI Act and it is expected that the CPIO on receipt of a request shall as expeditiously as possible provide the information sought for by the applicant.”

In the instant case, it is pertinent to note that, not only the then CPIO failed to comply by the provisions of the RTI Act, the FAA also disregarded the same.

In view of the foregoing, the Commission directs the respondent to furnish a categorical reply to the appellant with respect to the adoption documents sought by him, as per the provisions of the RTI Act. [Mallikarjun v. CPIO, 2020 SCC OnLine CIC 989, decided on 21-10-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Tribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Vanaja N. Sarna, Information Commissioner disposed of a complaint while stating the following on CPIO’s cryptic one liner response on the issue of migrant workers:

Commission is pained to see such a callous and non-serious attitude of the CPIO while handling the RTI application, more so, during such times of pandemic when every citizen is worried about the frayed lives of the country’s poor and has precipitated an unprecedented humanitarian crisis for migrant workers.

Information Sought

Complainant sought the information from Chief Labour Commissioner with regard to data about migrant workers, who were stranded and placed in various temporary shelter/relief camps.


Complainant submitted that he is not satisfied with the reply of the CPIO as he is not seeking any personal information about any particular stranded migrant worker. Instead he merely sought State-wise and district-wise statistics of compliance with the D.O. letter of the Chief Labour Commissioner and statistical information about migrant workers identified during the said enumeration exercise, along with their gender-wise and occupation-wise breakups.

He only sought intimation of the URL of the webpage where the statistics are posted on an official website.

Therefore the reply of the CPIO is difficult to believe and highly unacceptable. There is no reason why this Respondent Public Authority ought not to have such information in their custody when such information has been specifically called for through the D.O.

Respondent Authority cannot shy away from its responsibility of collecting information about migrant workers and making the same publicly accessible even during normal times.

Adding to the submissions, it was stated that, suo moto and time bound public disclosure of data about migrant workers is of utmost importance for ensuring the well-being of this key segment of our society and economy.

Observation & Decision

It is established beyond doubt that the CPIO has handled the RTI application in a very callous and casual manner.

CPIO in his reply dated 05.05.2020 had simply stated that as per the Stat Section is concerned, no such details as asked by the Complainant were available.

Commission was not convinced with the fact that when a D.O. letter was issued by the Chief Labour Commissioner during the time when the whole country is under the grip of a pandemic which has seriously affected the migrant workers and the D.O. letter was sent to all Regional heads to collect the data related to migrant workers, then how is it possible that no action, whatsoever, was taken on this D.O.

To the utmost surprise of the Commission, the CPIO has given a cursory, flimsy and inappropriate reply to the Complainant while totally ignoring the seriousness of the issue raised by the Complainant.

Commission records its severe admonition against the CPIO for such negligent handling of the RTI application concerning an issue of such wide implications.

CPIO appears to be completely unaware of the provisions of the RTI Act as had he been aware, he could have transferred the same to the appropriate authority to obtain the collated information from them.

Such poor handling shows complete laxity towards the implementation of the RTI Act which was enacted to promote transparency and accountability in the country and in case such a lapse is repeated in future, the Commission will be constrained to initiate penal action against the CPIO.

Need of the hour is to get concrete data regarding the number of stranded migrant workers across the country so that necessary measures may be taken by the concerned State Governments/ UTs to provide some relief to them.

Further the Commission added to its conclusion that, it is pertinent to note that given the uncertainties of the present times, any further delay in disclosing these details or evading the disclosure will only compound the difficulties of either side, the government and that of the unfortunate migrant workers.

Commission invoked Section 25(5) of the RTI Act and issued an advisory to the respondent authority to maintain a robust and dynamic website for placing all data related to migrant workers therein as and when it is received from different Regional Heads.

Thus, it is necessary for the CPIO to put his best possible efforts to collect this data from different Regional Heads and place the same on their website immediately even if it is done in a piece meal manner.

An advisory is issued under Section 25(5) of the RTI Act to the Chief Labour Commissioner, to suo-moto upload maximum data as available with them in relation to the migrant workers stranded in relief camps or shelters organised by governments or at the workplace of their employers or generally clustered in any district and wherever possible cumulative numbers of the migrant workers and the names of the districts from where the data is collected should also be uploaded in compliance with Section 4 of the RTI Act, 2005, having regard to the peculiar circumstances prevalent in the country. [Venkatesh Nayak v. CPIO; Office of the Chief Labour Commissioner; CIC/OTCLC/C/2020/669711/03585; decided on 27-05-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): The Division Bench of Suresh Chandra and Bimal Julka, Information Commissioners, directed for a show-cause notice to be issued to the CPIO with respect to misleading the Commission in regard to the information sought by the Complainant.

Facts of the Case

Complainant sought information regarding Mr Srinivas – Inspector of Customs, detailed list of Postings/Departments served from the date of joining duty till the date of RTI application, address and ownership details of present residential premises, etc.

With respect to the above-sought information, CPIO and Dy. Commissioner (ACC) stated that there was no person by the name of Mr Srinivas – Inspector of Customs working at their office hence the information sought could be treated as ‘Nil’.

Complainant being dissatisfied by the response of CPIO, approached the Commission. Commission had given out the following order in the said respect,

“Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties and in the light of the aforesaid judgments, no further intervention of the Commission is warranted in the matter. For redressal of grievance, the Complainant is required to approach an appropriate forum.”

Complainant aggrieved by the decision of the Commission approached the Karnataka High Court. Further, Legal Cell, CIC in compliance with the order of Karnataka High Court placed the matter before the IC- Bimal Julka, who vide its order proposed to schedule the hearing with another IC for the sake of objectivity/transparency.

Complainant’s stand

According to the complainant documents and evidences including criminal cases which revealed that there was one person Mr M.V. Srinivas who was working in the customs Department had been furnished and hence not adverting to that, the CPIO had perhaps evaded the disclosure of information.

CPIO had not taken the plea that the RTI application was indefinite or unspecific while giving nil information and that Mr Sujith Kumar P. Sompur, CPIO who was also the reporting officer of Mr M.V. Srinivas deliberately misled the Commission despite being aware of the facts and the antecedents of the individual.

Respondent’s stand

Respondent while defending the reply given by the then CPIO argued that the information sought was not about the specific person (Mr M.V. Srinivas) and subsequently the Complainant had revealed the specific person.

Thus, the CPIO in the absence of specific name could not have inferred or created information which was not in the custody of the CPIO and that there had been a plethora of judicial pronouncement and other precedents of the Central Information Commission supporting his viewpoint that as CPIO he was not to invent or create information/provide opinion/advice or draw inference.

Further, the Commission had received complainant’s written submission wherein it was stated that RTI application was filed seeking information on  Mr M.V. Srinivas who was directly reporting to the CPIO. Sujith Kumar P.  Sompur being the CIU head had only two inspectors allocated to him namely Mr Srinivas and Mr Niranjana Murthy. He thereafter alleged that Mr  Sujith Kumar P. Sompur and Mr Srinivas had jointly and severally committed several corrupt criminal acts and numerous FIRs and Charge Sheets had been filed.

When the RTI application was filed seeking information on Mr Srinivas, CPIO with a sinister view to exonerate and extricate themselves had intentionally filed a false and malicious statement that there exists “No person by the name Srinivas, Inspector of Customs, Air Cargo Complex, Bengaluru working at their office.”

Hence, CPIO indulged in such misleading mischief thereby misinterpreting the facts to exonerate and extricate themselves from the pending as well as impending cases.

Tribunal giving the interim decision, in order to ascertain clarity and reasons, issued a show-cause notice to the then CPIO and the present CPIO as to why penal action should not be initiated against them in accordance with the provisions of RTI Act, 2005 for misleading the Commission with the correct identity of the Customs Official where information as sought by the Complainant. [Kriplani M. v. CPIO, 2019 SCC OnLine CIC 1266, decided on 01-11-2019]