Sunday, 17 July 2016

CIC: Misuse of RTI by employee amounts to misconduct and liable for departmental enquiry

Thus the Commission holds that such a misuse by employee will amount to misconduct
and, acting under Section 19(8)(a) of RTI Act, require the public authority to take following
steps to address the misuse of RTI by its own employees like appellant: 
a)  The public authority should proceed with disciplinary action against the appellant for his
misuse of RTI which amounted to misconduct, before April 25, 2016. Every misuse of system
like, misuse of PGMS, RTI and Social media shall be considered as an item of misconduct that
invite disciplinary action. 
b)   If the mis­users of RTI involved in invading privacy by video recording and spreading
false allegations through social media network, the head of the institute need to examine if it
amounts to any offence under IPC or IT Act, and shall report to appropriate authorities
including police.  

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu (Madabhushi Sridhar)
Information Commissioner
Mohd. Shakeel Saifi v. PIO, Bhai Parmanand Institute of Business Studies,
 Decision: 29­-03-­2016

2. It   is   a   case   of   blatant   misuse   of   RTI,   Social   Media   and   Grievance   Redressal
mechanism by Appellant, who is an employee of Ambedkar Polytechnic. After misuse of other
systems he filed RTI application for action taken report on his complaint dated 12.02.2015,
demanded copy of complaint submitted by another teacher Ms. Tarika against him, and copies
of committee’s finding/report against the complaint submitted by Ms. Tarika   in Ambedkar
Polytechnic.   The  audacity  of   appellant   can  be  understood  as  he  wanted  the  copies   of
integrity certificate of committee members those were involved in the inquiry  of thecomplaint   submitted   by   Ms.   Tarika,   copies   about   procedure   followed   in   the
finding/trial/recorded statement of both the parties against complaint submitted by Ms. Tarika,
copy of Form of medical bills and amount claimed from PAO­24 by Principal, Amita Dev of Bhai
Parmanand Institute of Business Studies from 01.08.2012 to 31.03.2014, copy of conveyance
and cartage claimed by Shri R L Pubby and Shri Pani Ram of   Ambedkar Polytechnic in
Financial Year 2014­15, copy of TA claimed by Shri. Vipul Jain etc. The amount of harassment
he is causing can be visualised by his demand for wide range of information about colleagues
and Principal and even of the officers who are supposed inquire into complaints filed against
him. Around five staff members attended hearing to counter the menace of RTI demands
presented  by this appellant. Ms Tarika appears  to  be the worst  victim  as  appellant  has
videographed her lecture in the class room without permission and put it on social media with
reckless allegations. 
3.  The public authority is scared of appellant as he has already filed number of complaints,
grievance representations, RTI applications, almost chocking entire administration. They either
gave information that could not have been given or transferred to other authorities. Deputy
Director   (E­I)   by  his  letter   dated  07.10.2015  transferred  the  RTI   application  for   point   no.
1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9 & 10 to PIO, Ambedkar Institute of Technology.
4.   Claiming non­furnishing of information, appellant filed First Appeal. Deputy Director (E­I)
informed the PIO, DTTE on 12.10.2015 that for point no. 1, 2,3,4,5,7,8,9 & 10 the application
was transferred to PIO, Ambedkar Institute of Technology, for point no. 6 stated that it was
transferred to BPIBS, for point no. 11 and 12, requested the appellant to come for inspection
and for point no. 13 stated that no such record is available in the branch.
5.   The PIO, BPIBS by his letter dated 23.10.2015 replied stating that information for point no.
6 cannot be furnished because it was third party information. It appears to be impossible to
satisfy this appellant. Even after taking huge information he is claiming non­furnishing of
information, and filed this Commission.
Proceedings Before the Commission:6. Officer from the respondent authority stated that they did not have copies of such
complaints. Ms. Tarika, the third party, about whom appellant was seeking information, stated
that   the   appellant   nourished   a   grudge   against   employer   for   his   promotion   and   targeted
colleagues of Delhi Polytechnic. To harass, she said, he has video recorded her class in
Ambedkar Institute of Technology and it was put on social media under the title ‘Jhola Chap’
teacher (mentioning Teaching Corruption in Ambedkar Polytechnic, Sting Operation : “Jhola
Chap” teachers in Delhi Polytechnic). The print­out copy submitted by Ms. Tarika shows that it
was shared by Shakeel Saifi on April 15 at 10:57 pm. It also contained appellant’s photograph.
Appellant admitted video recording. This caused lot of embarrassment from friends, relatives,
colleagues and family members as video was widely circulated by WhatsApp, Facebook and
other social media.
7.     She complained against him before Delhi Commission for Women, which was dismissed
saying that the Principal should have given a memo. She was upset with invasion of her
privacy   and   reputation   by   wide   circulation   of   abusive   comments   with   video   giving   an
impression there was some scandal.
8.     Appellant has also asked some information about other colleagues and even about
Principal.  Apprehensions of Tarika are confirmed by another complaint filed by Principal Dr.
Amita Dev dated 29.03.2016, which says:
..... the applicant has sought information by name (i.e. Dr. (Mrs.) Amita Dev) regarding
the details of Medical Bills claimed by the undersigned. I would like to submit that though I
have furnished the information and supplied the relevant records to Shri Mohd. Shakeel Saifi,
at the same time, it puts me into a mental torture or mental trauma, as he may misutilize the
information on social media, you tube, face book etc., as in the past after receiving the
information through RTI, he had distorted, fabricated and published the same on Total TV,
You Tube, Facebook etc.... It is further humbly submitted that, me – being a lady and my
grown­up daughter (aged 22 years) may suffer from any physical problems (being privacy in
nature) which I do not want to disclose to the Third Party, as I am afraid that he may misutilize
the is requested that necessary action, as deemed fit, may kindly be taken against
him and he should be refrained from filing further RTI Applications in future.9. In spite of her objection against disclosure her medical bills, apprehending misuse and
propaganda in social media, the institution has given all those to appellant without giving any
justification or public interest. The officers also submitted a PGMS (public grievance monitoring
system) generated report which shows that within four months he filed 36 complaints against
his colleagues and public authority, most are not grievances at all.
10. Ms. Tarika wrote a letter to PIO Ambedkar Polytechnic on 28.03.2016 saying that the
appellant was releasing fabricated video into the social media in collusion with another person
who claimed himself to be RTI activist causing her serious mental agony and depression. He
has also filed unlimited number of complaints with defamatory allegations against Principal,
staff members of the institute. She said that appellant has a case against the department on
the issue of promotion where she is working on contract with a small salary. She also alleged
that the appellant has gender bias and troubling group of ladies who are working in the
institute. Officers stated that others also presented similar petitions alleging that he was
misusing RTI Act and PGC mechanism and prayed for relief from torture by appellant by taking
suitable action.
11.   After presenting his case for more than quarter hour, when the Commission was hearing
the others about his misuse, appellant alleged bias against Commission with a deliberate
intention to stall proceedings which are being concluded. He left the Commission insulting the
chair and others even as the Commission pronounced rejection of his second appeal being
without   public   interest.     After   hearing   and   decision   was   completed,   he   sent   a   written
submission expressing no faith in the hearing before this Commission which was already
concluded. After rejecting second appeal, the Commission considers it necessary that public
authority should have enough training regarding not giving information about third parties to
misusers like this appellant. 
12.         Material   before  Commission,   submissions   of   college  staff   and  Appellant   himself,
supported by his misbehaviour shows that he is undoubtedly a misuser of every mechanismand bent upon harassing everyone who does not yield to his wishes. He is a potential threat to
peace in the institution and also privacy of colleagues. Whole college is scared of him. He
asked for certified copies of ‘integrity certificate’ of officers who are asked to inquire into
allegations against him. This shows that he is not capable of working with other staff in public
authority like this. 
13.    Appellant came with unclean hands and does not deserve any more information. The
Commission observes that information from point No. 1 to 5 and 10 is concerned with Ms.
Tarika (third party), for point No. 6 the information has been furnished in compliance with FAA
order vide letter dated 07.12.2015 by PIO, BPIBS, point No. 7, 8 and 9 information was
provided by PIO (Ambedkar Institute of Technology), for point No. 11 & 12 inspection was
already offered by the PIO and subsequently information on point no. 12 was furnished and for
Point No. 13 it was stated that no such record was available with public authority. In view of the
above stated facts, Commission finds that information has been furnished to the appellant
except those concerning the third party. Knowing full well that appellant was misusing social
media, grievance redressal mechanism, RTI and filing frivolous complaints, the public authority
should not have given any information to this misuser.
14. There is nothing to suspect the representation of colleagues of appellant saying that he
does not require any information; because his whole purpose is to harass the others, and
stated that the behaviour of the appellant would amount to defamation and invasion of privacy
which constitute offences under Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Information Technology Act,
2000. The Commission is surprised by the inaction of the college authorities and staff, which is
facilitating the appellant to continue harassment. 
15.    The Supreme Court in ICAI vs. Shaunak H. Satya, (2011) 8 SCC 781 has held: “This
Court is also of the view that misuse of the RTI Act has to be appropriately dealt with
otherwise the public would lose faith and confidence in this "sunshine Act". A beneficent
Statute, when made a tool for mischief and abuse must be checked in accordance with law”.16. In HK Bansal v Department of Telegraph, New Delhi, CIC/BS/A/2014/002319­SA, this
Commission concluded: 
Whether serving/retired employees are having any right to behave in such a  manner to
torture   his   colleagues   and   employer?   The   Commission   opines   that   such   a   conduct
deserves to be considered as  mis­conduct.   There should be a system within the Public
Authority to tackle such misconduct of any serving employee/retired employee or by any other
staff member/out­sourced or similar nature, because they are becoming potential hazards of
RTI misuse.   Public authority should have  evolved a mechanism  and  service rules or
include in conduct rules, to initiate departmental action against existing/retired employees
for such misbehavior or misconduct and impose penalty in the nature of cutting increments or
pension emoluments for serving or retiring employees accordingly. If the RTI application from
its own employee reflects a grievance or compliant, the public authority  should address
grievance immediately and inform him within one month. If the RTI application is repeated,
frivolous or useless one and only meant for harassing other employees or public authority as
a whole, then the disciplinary action should be initiated for such alleged misconduct, leading
to appropriate action. If they do not act at all against such characters (retired or not retired
employees) in indulging in such misconduct of filing frivolous and entertain these repeated
RTI   applications   it   will   cause   huge   wasting   of   public   money.   The   public   authority   is
answerable to public why they are facilitating the misconduct causing damage to public
exchequer. Each department has to address the issue of misusing RTI by employee, after
thoroughly examining each individual case separately. 
Targeting the witnesses, complainants, superior officers who were members of inquiry
committee or DPC who did not favour them and seeking whole lot of information about them
under RTI Act is irresponsible misuse of the right.  It will not only interfere with the
independent inter­departmental decision making process, but also instill fear in inquiry officers
and dissuade others from lodging complaints against wrongdoers. This increases the already
existing space for wrongdoing ultimately affecting the governance. The RTI is not meant for
granting such immunity or impunity to wrongdoing employees to misuse RTI to demoralize the
complainants and inquiry officers.
Appellant is demanding the information about some employees/officers who gave assistance
in confidence for law enforcement, which can be denied under this exception under Section
(h) information, which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension
or prosecution of offenders;
Appellant’s targeted demand for details of officers who decided or opined or complained or
deposed against him will impede the process of collecting evidence of misconduct of accused
public servant, impede process of inquiry for taking disciplinary action, hence need not be
given under this clause of 8(1).
(j) information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has not
relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarrantedinvasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer
or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be,
is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information
17. Thus the Commission holds that such a misuse by employee will amount to misconduct
and, acting under Section 19(8)(a) of RTI Act, require the public authority to take following
steps to address the misuse of RTI by its own employees like appellant: 
a)  The public authority should proceed with disciplinary action against the appellant for his
misuse of RTI which amounted to misconduct, before April 25, 2016. Every misuse of system
like, misuse of PGMS, RTI and Social media shall be considered as an item of misconduct that
invite disciplinary action. 
b)   If the mis­users of RTI involved in invading privacy by video recording and spreading
false allegations through social media network, the head of the institute need to examine if it
amounts to any offence under IPC or IT Act, and shall report to appropriate authorities
including police.  
c)   The public authority should inform the individual officers, if their rights are breached by
misuse, they have a every right to complain as per law and public authority shall facilitate such
action, if the misuse obstructs the normal course of functioning of the institute. 
d)    The concerned authorities to take immediate action if the information given to appellant
in this case is abused or spread in social media or elsewhere, and they shall not give any
information to this appellant if files similar RTI requests. The public authority should take note
that   employees   or   colleagues   like   Ms.   Tarika,   Ms.   Amita   Dev   have   a   right   to   seek
compensation   from   public   authorities   if   they   ignore   or   neglect   their   privacy   rights   by
indiscriminately giving information in the absence of public interest. It is pathetic to note that
the PIO could not ascertain that there was no public interest in this case but appellant has
malicious interests in harassing others or building pressure on authorities in self interest. The
authorities have a duty to protect other employees from such misusers. This kind of misuse tobuild up pressure against taking action on misconduct or to secure promotion should be
treated as disqualification.
e)    The public authority should provide necessary training to the PIOs and other staff
members to verify the nature of appellant and if they found him to be misuser, tell them not to
give information like medical claims of third parties. 
18.     The Commission also directs the officers of public authority to inform Ms. Tarika and
Principal, Amita Dev as to what action was taken on their complaints against the appellant,
and file a compliance report explaining the implementation of directives in this order, before
April 25, 2016. If not, Ms. Tarika and others will be entitled to file non­compliance complaint
before this Commission under this case number. 
19.       The Commission recommends the Delhi Commission for Women, to take necessary
action on complaints of Ms Tarika and others to protect women in this public authority from the
invaders   of   privacy   and   misusers   of   social   media,   and   report   the   compliance   to   this
Commission before 25th April, 2016. (Public authority and Deputy Registrar of this Commission
are directed to send copies of their complaints to the Delhi Commission for Women along with
this order).
20.    The Commission holds appellant as misuser of social media, RTI and warn him to stop
the harassment of colleagues and ruining the institution. 
(M. Sridhar Acharyulu)
Information Commissioner 

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