CIC criticises NCW for violation of constitutional & statutory duties

Central Information Commission: The appellant, who was a Research Assistant at National Commission for Women, had filed an RTI application claiming that her term was not extended to “harass her for daring to raise her voice.” She alleged sexual harassment by the Deputy Secretary. When her term was extended then she complained that extension letter contained unjust questions regarding her performance. The RTI application was denied on the ground of it being “third party information.” It is to be noted that the first appeal was rejected by the same officer against whom the charge of sexual arrangement was placed.

The Commission noted that while hearing the first appeal, the Appellate authority has violated Section 19(6) of the RTI Act, and also failed to observe the principles of natural justice. The Commission also took note of the fact that there was a “sudden increase” in the remuneration of contractual employees who were on the enquiry committee and notice from the CIC was also left unanswered by the NCW.

The Commission observed that “the submission of the appellant reflect unhealthy environment at workplace in the forum which supposed to protect the rights of women. Her right to life, right to work and right to information were seriously endangered by sexual harassment by senior. If this is the fate of woman who is working as research assistant in National Commission for Women, what will be the plight of ordinary women outside the NCW?”

The Commission directed: (i) to give a timely response explaining reasons for breach of two statutes on Sexual Harassment and Right to Information in case of appellant; (ii) To facilitate inspection to the appellant; (iii) The CPIO Mr. G Nagarajan to show-cause why maximum penalty should not be imposed against him for not furnishing the information sought by the appellant within stipulated time, before 14.07.2017; (iv) The Deputy Secretary, Mr. V.V.B. Raju, considering him as deemed PIO, to show cause why maximum penalty should not be imposed against him; (v) The Member Secretary to explain why the NCW should not be ordered to pay compensation to the appellant for the harassment; (vi) In exercising the powers under section 18 (1) of RTI Act, the respondent authority to conduct inquiry in to the appellant’s complaints against Mr. VVB Raju, the increase in remuneration of inquiry committee members and witnesses before inquiry committee in case of complaint of sexual harassment, and provide the report to this Commission, before 14.08.2016. [Nammi Bano v. PIO, National Commission for Women, 2017 SCC OnLine CIC 737, Order dated 16.06.2017]

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