Friday, 2 January 2015

TRIPAS and the shyness to provide a copy of Joint Services memorandum

Starting the New Year
Online RTI Request Form Details

Public Authority Details:-
* Public Authority Department of Defence
Personal Details of RTI Applicant:-
Request Details:-
Citizenship Indian
* Is the Requester Below Poverty Line? No
(Description of Information sought (upto 500 characters)
* Description of Information Sought

I refer to MODEF/R/2014/61177 dated 30th June 2014 transferred to Service HQ vide No. 21/4/2014-D (PCC) dated 28th July 2014 and received by this applicant on 5th August 2014.

2. Services HQ have stated that MoD is the custodian of the information.

3. Now, 7 CPC vide 7CPC/66/RTI/2014 dated 11th November 2014 (supporting document is attached for ready reference) states that MoD is the custodian of the information.

4. Therefore, as custodian of the information, please provide this applicant with a photocopy of the Joint Service Memorandum (JSM).

Reply dated 19 Dec 2014 from TRIPAS

Telephone: 23011257
Fax: 23011257/23006530
Tri Service Pay Staff (TRIPAS)
Room No. 116, Kashmir House,
Rajaji Marg,
New Delhi – 110 011
C/7026/VIIth CPC                                                       


Dear Sir,

1.       Please refer to your online application No. MODEF/R/2014/62182 dated 23 Nov 14 filed with MoD, which has subsequently been transferred by MoD to Services.

2.       Your request has been examined and it has been decided that in order to apprise the veterans about the Services proposals submitted to 7th CPC, a presentation to a select group of ESM would be made by the Services. The schedule of the presentation would be intimated to you as soon as it is finalised.

3.       We hope that this will meet your requirement.
(V S Chauhan)
Director TRIPAS
Copy to: -
MoD D (Pay Commission Cell)
MoD D (Pay/Services)

Response to TRIPAS letter

SYS/RTI/2014/62182/JSM                                                                                                                            02 Jan 15

Cdr V S Chauhan
Director, TRIPAS
Room No. 116, Kashmir House,
New Delhi – 110 011
Subject: Request for Information

1.       Please refer to C/7026/VIIth CPC dated 19 Dec 14 (received on 27 Dec 14 by the undersigned) conveying the decision in response to the RTI application for information No. MODEF/R/2014/62182 dated 23 Nov 14 transferred by MoD to TRIPAS.

2.       I do not head or belong to any of the ESM organisations i.e. IESM, IESL, Sanjha Morcha, Disabled Veterans etc etc. Being a simple and, an ethical RTI activist, I have a singular motive – obtain and provide correct and factual information as defined in Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act, 2005. As a corollary it reduces unnecessary blame on Defence Forces officers in the higher echelons of decision making, as well as minimises avoidable speculation on issues. My belief is that Being Informed is the Best Weapon. 

3.       In view of the aforesaid, the procedure stated in Para 2 of TRIPAS letter dated 19 Dec 14 is in contravention of the RTI Act, 2005 for the following reasons: -

(a)      The Services making a presentation to a “select group of ESM” (emphasis supplied) does not specifically address the request for information vide MODEF/R/2014/61282 dated 23 Nov 14 of the undersigned.
(b)     Secondly, the RTI Act, 2005 does not require the physical presence of the applicant/appellant for information before the CPIO/First Appellate Authority of the Public Authority. The Act, in fact, gives an applicant/appellant the choice of being physically present even for the Second Appeal before the Chief Information Commissioner’s office as an appellant. Even the CIC conducts video-conference to decide on the complaint/appeal. 

(c)      The Public Authority, in this case TRIPAS, has the option of refusing information citing reasons under relevant sections within 30 days of receipt of the request and then provide the applicant an opportunity to appeal to the First Appellant Authority (FAA), whose particulars are to be given in the decision letter, within 30 days of receipt of the reply/refusal by CPIO.

(c)      The applicant, who becomes the appellant, then has the option to either appeal to the FAA within 30 days of receipt of the reply/refusal or not.

(d)     If the appellant is not satisfied with the order of the FAA to be provided with 30 days (and 45 days if reasons for the extra 15 days are given in the order), then one may file a complaint/an appeal with CIC within 90 days of date of receipt of reply/refusal from CPIO.

(e)      A complaint under Section 18 of the RTI Act, 2005 for reasons stated therein, is where the CIC has powers of a Civil Court to impose fines up to Rs 25000 @ Rs 250 per day on the CPIO & or FAA.

(f)      Therefore, the proposal of TRIPAS at Para 2 of the letter dated 19 Dec 14, is in conflict with a statutory law i.e RTI Act, 2005. Agreeing with the proposal would mean agreeing to abet circumvention the RTI Act, 2005.

4.       Further to matter of ethics, the impugned proposal imposes a disproportionate financial burden, if Services decide to invite the undersigned who is a resident of Bengaluru, which is not clear, as given below: -

(a)      Presuming the report in the media of the JSM is of 4000 pages being correct, @ Rs 2 per photocopied page as per the RTI Act, 2005, the undersigned would have to pay Rs 8000/- towards the information requested.

(b)     If as reported elsewhere, the JSM is about 450 pages, the cost to the undersigned would be Rs 900/-.

(c)      On the other hand, travelling to New Delhi by air would cost the undersigned the following: -

(i)      For return airfare                                                Rs 12000

(ii)      For accommodation, meals etc                    Rs   2000             
(iii)       For transportation                                           Rs   2000

                   Total (approx)                                               Rs 16000

5.       Therefore, it would be tantamount to TRIPAS/Services imposing a penalty of between Rs 8000/- (estimate in 2.3.1 above) or Rs 15100 (estimate in 2.3.2 above) on the undersigned for requesting the information, which would, after the presentation be in the public domain, as ESM are not subject to Army, Navy or Air Force Acts, 1950. It is not a procedure in consonance with Sections 5, 6 & 7 of the RTI Act, 2005.   

6.       As stated above, the methodology spelt out in Para 2 of TRIPAS letter of 19 Dec 14 does not meet the requirement for reasons mentioned.

7.       To enable the undersigned applicant for information, TRIPAS, the custodian of the information is requested to be in compliance with the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, and

(a)      CPIO either provides me the information requested for or states the refusal with reasons as given in Section 7 (8) of the RTI Act, 2005, and

(b)     In case of a refusal to provide information, CPIO may provide particulars of the FAA of TRIPAS to file the first appeal, or

(c)      If TRIPAS decides to deny the information in contravention of Section 7 (9) of the RTI Act, 2005, CPIO may treat this as a notice required under the Rules for lodging a complaint under Section 18 (1) of the RTI Act, 2005 in case information is not provided by 20 Jan 15 i.e. within 30 days from TRIPAS letter dated 19 Dec 14..  

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  1. Bravo Sir( & i am from Bravo sqn ,NDA :))
    I hope you will be kind enough to let us contribute any money required for printing.
    Is there a provision in RTI for asking only soft copy which is faster,cheaper & environment friendly & most important can be circulated easily :)

  2. Thanks for the offer. I will keep that in mind when I come to the bridge.

    Yes, there is a provision costing Rs 50 for a CD + cost of burning the CD.

    But so far no CPIO has offered to do that.

  3. This manner of "shyness" is truly reprehensible. For reasons that can only be ascribed to a lack of self-image, some sections of the apex of "the pyramid" exhibit a marked tendency of wanting to emulate the bureaucratic traits of evasion, obfuscation or downright "clamming up". Some individuals in uniform feel it is "cool" to be able to serve up denial to their own kind in the way the civilian bureaucracy sometimes leads the higher-end of defence hierarchy up the garden path.

    A large number of the ills plaguing the armed forces cadres can be traced to this needless affectation of civilian dodginess, a quality that should be as alien to a straight-shooting, above-board ethos that people in uniform are expected to be a part of.

  4. Sir, I agree with Veteran Venkatesh. I am also ready to contribute. Please let us know the mode of payment..

  5. It is unfortunate that the TRIPAS is refusing to provide info which has been submitted on file to the Babus of MOD and Pay commission. Whats the need to keep it under wraps from the veterans and serving soldiers .. who are the affected party. A case of sycophancy or misplaced loyalty to the Babus or the Political elite.... One hopes that the RTI is able to cut through the red tape and the misplaced loyalty shown the door.

  6. sir
    you have taken the bull by the horn. any bureaucracy be it civil,simply wishes to deny info little realising that in world of RTI you can't be opaque .As you correctly say ' Being Informed is the Best Weapon.' I am in days to come many more babu's is going to be held .wishing you all the best in your crusade to be informed & make everything transparent . God Bless sir !!!