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Days after receiving flak for restrictive use of the penalty clause, the Central Information Commission on Thursday levied maximum penalty under RTI Act against registrar of Benaras Hindu University.
The commission found the Principal Information Officer (in this case the registrar) guilty of denying information to the applicant Dhananjay Tripathi, who sought the inquiry report into the death of his friend Yogesh Roy. A penalty of Rs 25,000 has been imposed.
For the first time, the CIC invoked the penalty clause against the official who was not the original PIO. A junior level official was earlier the PIO but during the hearing of the case the university informed that the registrar is assisting the PIO in the case. Therefore, under the RTI Act, he became liable for punishment as an official senior of the original PIO.
By imposing the maximum penalty allowed under RTI Act, the commission now wants to send the message loud and clear that quoting provisions of Section 8 of the RTI Act to deny the information requested without giving any justification as to how these provisions are applicable is â€œsimply unacceptable and clearly amounts to malafide denial of legitimate informationâ€. The CIC had earlier warned BHU in this regard.
When even after a full bench hearing in presence of BHU Vice Chancellor Punjab Singh, the information was denied to Tripathi, the penalty clause was invoked.
On Thursday, the Information Commissioner OP Kejriwal also asked the university to provide the copy of the inquiry report to Tripathi within a week.
Roy had allegedly died due to medical negligence and the report is believed to have found merit in this view. However, the university debunked the report that it was not according to the terms of reference. That was done after Tripathi sought a copy of the report under RTI Act earlier this year.
The CIC is also expected to issue an order into the inquiry conducted on the allegation of the application that he was discriminated by BHU for filing the application. Tripathi had alleged that he was denied promotion to the next class on malafide grounds.
CIC sources said that the inquiry officer has finalized its report and an order can be expected on that by end of this week.
RTI: CIC levies max penalty against BHU registrar : HindustanTimes.com