New Delhi. Dec. 29: The email lying on the desk of the information commissioner isnâ€™t the classical hate message, but its sender has no love lost for the Central Information Commission.
â€œYou wonâ€™t get away with this,â€ reads a line in the anonymous message. The information commissioner the email is addressed to dismisses it as an â€œempty threatâ€, but concern is writ large on his face. Itâ€™s not the first case, after all.
Central information commissioners have been at the receiving end of several â€œpersonal slandersâ€ â€” from â€œempty threatsâ€ to allegations of â€œmotivated judgments â€” in the past two months. â€œWhile most mails are anonymous, some government officials have been brazen enough to reveal their identities,â€ says a joint secretary at commission.
Initially, some information commissioners laughed it off. â€œItâ€™s ugly, but you have to shrug it off. After all, they are bureaucrats, not goondas (thugs) and it didnâ€™t seem a major cause for concern,â€ said an information commissioner who received two mails where the sender identified himself.
But now, there are worries. The increasing frequency of such mails has led chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah to consider legal action against those who have named themselves. â€œThe slanders are shocking and unacceptable,â€ he says.
Officials at the commission see the mails as intimidating, intended to scare commissioners into giving more lenient judgments against them in the future. â€œIn the larger picture, intimidating us will help all those in the bureaucracy with skeletons to hide,â€ said commissioner Om Prakash Kejriwal.
Those who have identified themselves include registrars of two central universities. They have accused an information commissioner of â€œpersonal enmitiesâ€.
Both registrars had been sent notices from the information commission after they violated the time frame within which they were supposed to respond with information sought by appellants under the Right to Information Act. â€œIâ€™ve never met the two officials who accuse me of personal vendetta,â€ the commissioner facing the accusation said.
To deal with the mails, including those that come with â€œthreatsâ€, the chief commissioner is seeking help from the National Informatics Centre, which handles software facilities for most central government officials.
The centre has asked IBM â€” about to provide new hardware for the information panelâ€™s computing facilities â€” to ensure that products are compatible with software to help track email senders.
NDTV Message Board
Monday, March 19, 2007
By Sam McBride
The Northern Ireland Office has been ordered to respond to a Belfast Telegraph Freedom of Information (FOI) request made more than six months ago.
A judgment by the Information Commissioner has given the NIO 35 days to provide a response and warned that failure to comply with its decision may lead to High Court action.
The request, for details of official entertainment by Secretary of State Peter Hain, was made on August 22, 2006.
The Commissioner's decision notice states that, as well as not answering the initial request, Mr Hain's department twice failed to answer written communications from the Information Commissioner in January.
The legal document states: "The Commissioner wrote to the NIO on January 30, advising that he had received further complaints from this complainant regarding unanswered requests made to the NIO.
"The Commissioner again asked the NIO when it would respond to the complainant's outstanding request. No response was received."
In October, the NIO said the request had not been received and asked for it to be resubmitted. It later claimed the request in August may have been identified as junk email.
But the Commissioner's judgment notes: "This does not account for the fact that the complainant did send other emails to the NIO email address which were received."
The order, signed by Assistant Information Commissioner for Northern Ireland Marie Anderson, concludes the NIO has not supplied the information or a refusal notice and has therefore failed to comply with the law.
Last month, the Information Commissioner said that, following several failures in handling FOI requests, the NIO's compliance would be monitored.
NIO ordered to meet Telegraph request - Local & National - News - Belfast Telegraph