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UP: Labour dept slips on RTI terrain

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Labour dept slips on RTI terrain

as reported by Ms. Neha Shukla, TNN, LUCKNOW: Aug 23, 2010, Times of India


A little learning is a dangerous thing. And it is the labour department of UP that has proved the adage this time. Supposedly, half-baked knowledge of the Right To Information Act (RTI) made the department's order, though issued in `good spirit' look reckless and "surprising" to the state information commission (SIC).


The commission has now sought explanation from the department's who's who on legality of the order.


The order in question is the one issued by labour commissioner Sitaram Mina on April 7, 2010. The order reads -- "In accordance with the GO issued on April 23, 2007, regional additional/deputy labour commissioners have been nominated as first appeals authority for their area of jurisdiction. These officials have been directed to nominate PIOs and APIOs, according to their discretion, from among the available officers."


A copy of the order was forwarded to all departmental officials, principal secretary, labour department, and principal secretary, administrative reforms department. Later, an almost similar order was issued by R B Lal, deputy labour commissioner, Lucknow region, on April 13, 2010.


He further informed that assistant labour commissioners in Lucknow, Hardoi, Rae Bareli, Lakhimpur Kheri, Unnao and Sitapur have been nominated as PIOs in their area of jurisdiction. The labour enforcement officers and inspectors in these districts, on the other hand, have been named as APIOs.


The SIC has taken adverse view of the orders and has termed the order "surprising". The commission has sent notice to labour commissioner to explain the "legality" of his order. "It is only head of the department who can nominate first appeals authority and PIO," said information commissioner (IC), Gyanendra Sharma.


The order has been questioned on the basis of the GO of April 23, 2007, which labour commissioner referred to in his order.


The GO signed by the then chief secretary Shambhu Nath reads, "...in all the administrative units and in offices under them, procedure of nominating first appeals authority and PIO will be completed by public authority, as per its discretion and from among the available officials."


This boils down to the fact that power to nominate first appeals authority and PIO in any government department rests with the head of the department (HoD). The power cannot be delegated to subordinate officers. The commission observed, "powers delegated by labour commissioner to first appeals authority and PIO in offices of additional/ deputy labour commissioner do not confirm to rules".


On the other hand, appointment of APIOs at offices other than sub-divisional ones (or tehsil level) has also been questioned by the commission. UP government in the past has issued an order stating that appointment of APIOs be done at sub-divisional offices only, as mentioned in the RTI Act.


The principal secretary, administrative reforms department, has been asked if any order has been issued from their office regarding appointment of APIOs at offices other than tehsil level. "Why should not appointment of APIOs made at other offices be cancelled," questioned the commission.


Principal secretary, labour department has been asked to explain why the department did not nominate the first appeals authority till now. The next date of hearing in the case has been fixed for August 25.


Source : Labour dept slips on RTI terrain - Lucknow - City - The Times of India

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