The CIC has directed the National Green Tribunal to disclose travel and tour expenses incurred for its chairman as it issued a show-cause notice to the body asking why the maximum penalty should not be imposed on its official for failure to furnish timely information.
The Department of Personnel and Training had issued a directive to all public authorities on September 11, 2012, to suo motu place in the public domain the expenses incurred on official tours undertaken by any ministers and officials.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) had also directed all public authorities to make suo motu disclosures of travel expenses as a lot of RTI applicants were found to request for these details.
The PMO under the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had started disclosing these details proactively.
RTI applicant R K Jain had sought to know from NGT the details of expenses incurred on travel bills, bills received from Balmer Lawrie, a travel company, pending bills and travel proposals in relation to its chairman and other officials.
NGT is the apex body for adjudicating environmental issues.
Jain pleaded before the CIC that, under Section 19(5) of the RTI Act, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) is bound to furnish the information and not furnishing the same is deemed to be a refusal under Section 7(2) of the RTI Act.
"Justice must tame whom mercy cannot win," Jain said as he countered NGT's claim that it does not have adequate infrastructure to handle the load of RTI applications.
He said the CPIO wrote to him saying that if he was satisfied with the inspection of documents, then he cannot ask for the photocopies of the same. That, however, was not acceptable to the complainant.
"The Commission directs the CPIO to furnish para-wise reply to the complainant... And also directs him to show cause why a penalty cannot be imposed on him for not providing information to the complainant," said Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu.