The CIC has rejected a plea of whistle blower IAS officer Ashok Khemka seeking compensation from PMO and penalty on an official for delay in disclosing a letter from Congress chief Sonia Gandhi letter to the then Prime Minister on the suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal by the Uttar Pradesh government.
Khemka claimed that Prime Minister’s Office did not furnish him the letter from Gandhi to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Nagpal’s suspension within mandatory 30 days, hence the Central Public Information Officer should be penalised.
He claimed the letter was available with various TV channels but he was not furnished a copy.
The PMO stated that the inputs were sought from the office concerned for providing information to the appellant and on receiving inputs from the office a copy of the inputs/note was provided to the appellant.
It said the matter was also discussed in the Cabinet for changes in the All India Service Rules and hence attracted exemption from the RTI Act.
Khemka said the PMO had never informed him whether the letter in question has ever been a part of the agenda item to be put up before the Cabinet. He stated that the sought-for information was wrongly treated by the respondent as Cabinet paper and this may set a bad precedent.
Alleging that the delay has caused a loss to him in service matters, he demanded penalty on the CPIO along with a suitable compensation to be granted to him.
However, Chief Information Commissioner R K Mathur said citing high court orders, “This Commission is of the considered view that the crux of the penalty provisions is that the PIO should have obstructed the supply of the information with intent or should have acted consciously and deliberately in a manner so as to block the provision of the information.”
He said in the instant matter it cannot be said that the PIO acted out of any malice or with intent to deny the information sought by the appellant.
“It would not be appropriate to impose any penalty upon the respondent and award any compensation to the appellant,” he said.