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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
As reported at http://"http://www.expressindia.com" on Jul 31, 2009 Lucknow To ensure transparency in departmental promotions, the State Information Commission has ruled that minutes of Departmental Promotion Committee’s (DPC) meeting cannot be denied under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Information Commissioner Gyanendra Sharma, in an order on Thursday, said an employee deserves the right to know if he is getting a fair deal in regard to promotional matters. Hence, it is imperative for government departments to provide him with details of the process that clears or rejects the growth of the person as an employee, he added. In this connection, Sharma directed the state Department of Personnel’s information officer to provide details of the DPC related to the promotion of Hare Narayan Shukla, held in August 29, 2000. Shukla, who was the finance controller with Meerut’s Sardar Vallabh Bhai Agriculture Institute, had sought information through a RTI application on April 11, 2008. He had alleged that while four of his junior colleagues were promoted, his case was not considered on grounds best known to his superiors. His plea was rejected by P N Yadav, Special Secretary to the Personnel department on the ground that the information is confidential and comes under the Section 8 (1) of the RTI Act. Later, Shukla had moved the Information Commission. He is currently posted as the finance controller in the Police department in Allahabad. “The move to bring in transparency in the procedure of promotion and service book will ensure that personal bias and other factors do not play a role in such important decisions,” said Sharma. When they come to know that their decisions would be open to scrutiny, higher officers would be forced to strictly follow guidelines, he added. Source: Departmental promotions come under RTI scanner - Express India
Atul Patankar posted a topic in RTI in MediaAs reported at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 31 May 2009 LUCKNOW: It is mostly lack of information on part of Public Information Officers (PIOs) that lands them in trouble. State Information Commission (SIC) slaps a fine on erring PIOs when they fail to meet the deadline of providing the required information. But, PIOs had a common question, whom to turn to for help when they face a problem understanding RTI Act or when they fail to decide what to do with RTI applications. There problem, however, met with an instant solution when chief information commissioner Gyanendra Sharma said that PIOs caught in confusion could call up the information commissioners for help. But, in no way they should delay release of information beyond 30 days. Many PIOs complained that most of the times they were not in possession of the information sought by the applicant. The information concerns the officials higher to them or is with them. If PIOs do not want the fine to be imposed on them in such a situation they should mention that information was with higher official who would then be treated as deemed PIO for the case and further responsibility would rest on him. Imposing of a fine does not relieve information officer of the responsibility of providing the information. Repeated failures to provide information sought to the applicant even after slapping of the fine can invite disciplinary action against the errant PIO. But, PIOs need not answer the PIAs (Perennial Information Applicants). If an applicant seeks same information over and over again through separate applications, PIOs have all the right to refuse providing the information again but not without stating that when and through what document they had provided the information to the applicant earlier. All the information present in government records is accessible by the public. The PIOs have to provide all except what is prohibited under Section 8(j) of the Act. In cases, where information demanded has been weeded out, PIOs will have to state that in the reply issued to the applicant(s). Whatever be the reason behind not providing the information has to be given to the applicant in writing if the concerned PIO does not want a fine to be imposed on him. The PIOs from many government departments had gathered to get tips on the Act and disposal of applications filed under it at a training workshop organised by Lucknow Management Association (LMA) and Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative on Saturday. The programme was attended by Gyanendra Sharma, chief information commissioner, UP, KK Sinha, principal secretary, administrative reforms department and Justice SC Verma. Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/PIOs-asked-to-consult-ICs-in-case-of-doubts-regarding-RTI/articleshow/4599338.cms