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karira

Arbitrary disposal of large volume of cases sans hearing by the Odisha Information Commission

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karira

Copied the following from a post in another RTI related group:

 

Dear friends,

Under Sections 18, 19 and 20 of RTI Act, the Information Commission has been empowered to receive, hear, enquire and dispose the Complaints and Second Appeals and also to impose penalty on defaulting PIOs as and where required. Needless to say, the hearing of the cases is crucial in the entire process of disposal of a case, simply for the reason that it gives an opportunity of hearing to the concerned PIO, on whom lies the burden of proof as to whether he acted diligently to provide the requested information to the applicant. It is also important because the complainant/petitioner might raise a slew of critical issues on account of which the RTI users like him were deprived of access to information sought for, and which the Commission as per Section 19(8) should address to for a better administration of RTI regime in the concerned public authority in future.

 

But unfortunately, Odisha Information Commission has been found unilaterally disposing a large bulk of the cases without holding any hearing on them. It neither makes an enquiry nor gives anopportunity of hearing to any party to the case. It has been further noticed that while disposing the cases in the above manner, the Commission generally directs the concerned 1st Appellate Authority to dispose the case at their level and ask the concerned complainant, if necessary to approach the Commission again in the form of a complaint or second appeal, in case he or she is dissatisfied with the decision of 1st Appellate Authority.

 

To ascertain the number of cases disposed by the Commission in the arbitrary manner as mentioned above, an RTI Application was submitted to the office of Odisha Information Commission and the information received in response thereto is as follows-

 

Cases disposed by the Commission without hearing in 4 month period.

Month of 2011

State Chief Information Commissioner

Mr. Jagadanand, SIC

Mr. Pramod Mohanty, SIC

 

No. of Complaint cases disposed

No. of second appeal cases disposed

No. of Complaint cases disposed

No. of second appeal cases disposed

No. of Complaint cases disposed

No. of second appeal cases disposed

August

54

NIL

77

Nil

156

Nil

September

63

NIL

59

Nil

123

Nil

October

107

NIL

24

Nil

82

Nil

November

150

NIL

160

Nil

283

Nil

Total

374

NIL

320

Nil

644

Nil

( Information obtained through RTI on dt. 28.12.2011)

Remarks

a. From the above table it is learnt that within period of four months (August – November 2011), the Commission has unilaterally and arbitrarily disposed a total of 1338 cases. If extrapolated, the figures for the year would amount to approximately. 5352.

 

b. When inquired about “ why the Commission adopts such arbitrary method of disposing the cases, the clarification cited by the Commission is that as a large bulk of the cases is pending in the Commission, there is no option except this procedure for disposing the cases with a view to reduce the volume of pendency.

 

c. When enquired about the rate of compliance (providing information to the complainant), the response of the Commission was “ no such record is maintained by the Commission”. It means that the Commission is concerned about the rate of disposal of cases in its own arbitrary, but not so about the actual rate of compliance of its orders for providing the information to the deprived applicants. Therefore, the claim of the Commission in public forums that that there was compliance to the Commission’s orders to the extent of 90 % is false and deserves to be discarded.

 

D. Let us go to other side of the story. In large number of cases ( such as for instance CC No- 4165/2011 and CC No.- 2/2011) the 1st Appellate Authorities are neither hearing nor disposing the cases. In fact, the cases unilaterally disposed by the Commission are old ones which require immediate hearing and immediate delivery of information to the complainants and penalty against the defaulter PIOs. As the Commission doesn’t enforce actual compliance in terms of delivery of information to the complainants and no penalty is imposed on erring PIOs for their failure to provide the information, the net result is widespread discontentment and anger created among the deprived citizens. In a situation where the Complainant has at long last been ditched by the Commission, he simply feels hopeless about approaching the Commission again in the manner of filing a complaint or second appeal. There is only a burning anger and frustration left in them. It has been gathered from the sources close to the complainants that huge numbers of cases disposed unilaterally by the Commission has not resulted in any delivery of information the complainants had asked for but were unduly refused. Though some complainants have filed again theprevious cases to the Commission, the latter s yet to begin deciding them.

 

e. The above procedure adopted by the Commission has encouraged the PIOs to disregard the RTI Act altogether . They are showing a careless attitude to the RTI applications, being overconfident that there is no fear of penalty from the Commission.

 

The Commission may feel a self-congratulatory satisfaction by dishing out the figures of reduced pendency, but in the process they have made RTI Act a casualty of their arbitrary rule. It would result in growing frustration and hopelessness among the RTI users and further boost to corruption and misfeasance across the state.

 

Pradip Pradhan

Date-7.1.2012

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dr.s.malhotra

Illegal .

this is the only word that describes procedure adopted by Odisha SIC . Matter needs to be raised before High Court for fresh take up of all such cases by SIC .

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