Can a senior officer fine his subordinates for not furnishing information under the Right to Information Act? No, says the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC).
In a recent order, the KIC ruled that penalty under Section 20 (1) can be levied only by the information commissions and that too only on public information officers.
State chief information commissioner K K Misra and state information officer K A Thippeswamy ruled this while hearing a complaint filed by nine officials from Kolar.
They were fined Rs 25,000 each â€” maximum penalty under the RTI Act, 2005 â€” by assistant commissioner of Kolar subdivision for denying information to an applicant.
"The commission is aware that it is responsibility of all concerned, including the PIOs, to provide information sought under RTI Act promptly. Inordinate delays defeat the very purpose of the Act. In case, any official holding information is found to have failed to provide the required information without reasonable cause, he must be dealt with severely and action has to be taken against him. The option of levying penalty under section 20 (1) is, however, not available to the first appellate authority," KIC ruled.
S Narayanaswamy, editor of local weekly, sought details of lands granted and copies of mutations from the tahsildar of Srinivasapura taluq.
After the tahsildar replied that information was not available, the applicant went on appeal before the assistant commissioner,Kolar sub-division.
In a surprise decision, the assistant commissioner, also the first appellate authority, slapped the highest penalty of Rs 25,000 on nine officials â€” from the tahsildar to the second division assistant to even the case worker â€” for having failed to furnish complete information.
Upset with the decision, the officials complained and the KIC set aside the impugned order passed by the assistant commissioner.
The KIC held that the first appellate authority has no powers to impose penalty under the RTI Act, but held that they can initiate disciplinary proceedings for dereliction of duty against the officials concerned.
Only info panels can slap RTI fine-Bangalore-Cities-NEWS-The Times of India
New Delhi, Mar 13: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has imposed a fine of Rs 15,500 on a senior officer in the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) for a delayed information disclosure on an RTI application seeking details about the relief and rehabilitation for the oustees of the Narmada dam project.
The fine was imposed on P Padmanabhan, Director in Central Water Commission, who in November 2006, serving as Senior Joint Commissioner and Central Public Information Officer in the Ministry, had delayed in responding to the application.
"The answer now given (in response to the CIC complaint) should have been the answer given at the time of submission of the (original) application," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said in the order passed yesterday.
The applicant Rahul Mangaonkar, a resident of Ahmedabad, had made an application before the Prime Minister's Office seeking information on the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs decision to review the raising of height of Narmada dam.
The Ministry of Water Resources had declined to disclose any information on the issue of the height of the dam but on the another issue of whether Medha Patkar-led NBA had given any list about the oustees not yet rehabiliated satisfactorily, it had said "no such information is avilable with the Ministry".
Mangaonkar, who was aggrieved by the response of the Ministry, had approached the CIC with a complaint that the information provide to him was not sufficient and details be given to him. Acting on his plea, the CIC agreed with the plea of the applicant that the Ministry was not providing the information satisfactorily and issued show cause notice to the CPIO as to why he should not be penalised.
"It was not adequate for the Ministry, which is the administrative Ministry in the GOI on the Narmada project, to so wash its hands of information on the principal subject, the importance of which to the execution of the project can hardly be denied," the CIC said.
Padmanabhan, who responded to the show cause notice, had clarified that despite the efforts made by MoWR, Medha Patkar's NBA did not provide any state-wise list of the affected families in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Senior official fined Rs 15,500 for delayed RTI disclosure .:. NewKerala.Com, India News Channel