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jps50 posted a blog entry in J.P.ShahWHY DO INFORMATION COMMISSIONERS NOT IMPOSE PENALTY? ICs are under the wrong impression that it is their discretion to levy or not to levy penalty at their will. In fact, once the breach of RTI Act is committed and not reasonably explained, the penalty must follow. ICs are afraid because if they levy penalties, the serving govt officers may dig out their [ICs] misdoings when ICs were in service and ICs may have to face investigating agencies post-retirement. ICs want to follow the line of action and guidance given by political appointees. ICs are attitudinally conditioned not to displease other govt officers and politicians, as they have been doing while in service, lest some day ICs may be exposed. Conceptually ICs have no respect for common citizens since they were uncommon citizens while in active service for a very long period of their lives. Heart in heart, ICs believe that govt servants and politicians are borne to rule in India and common Indian [mango] citizens are their subjects. ICs do not appreciate and internalize their own duties and responsibilities under RTI and continue to function as an administrative entity. ICs lack training in knowledge and attitude to effectively act as ICs. ICs treat appointment as post-retirement paid holiday time to enjoy bypassing routine and stereo-type orders [clerical or fill-in the blanks] without much taxing their minds. Imposing penalty requires the application of mind. ICs may have tie-up arrangement to absolve PIOs for a “fee”, as the majority of govt offices have in India [agents or touts]. ICs do not believe that common Indians deserve transparency and time is not ripe for opening up governance to such immature mango citizens. Very few appellants will move higher courts [due to the prohibitive cost of litigation and exorbitant delay ] for information and penalty, while PIOs will challenge at public cost, any order of penalty and if it is not upheld, ICs may lose face. RTI appellants or complainants have not so far moved vigilance machinery of Govt against ICs absolving PIOs of penalties even in serious RTI violations, alleging corruption. Citizens do not move petitions to remove ICs to President or Governors for not imposing penalties in many cases, where it should have been definitely imposed. ICs are aware that they are totally overprotected by law for whatever decisions they take including not imposing penalties even in deserving cases. ICs psychologically want to retain their image of being very good, understanding and kind among govt staff, even at the cost of making RTI defunct affecting fundamental rights of common citizens. ICs know that after demitting post, they will be common men/women and will have to approach the same govt. staff for their mercies. Hence they do not risk offending govt staff for RTI violation by imposing the penalty. Some ICs believe that penalties will have a demoralizing effect on govt staff and may reduce their efficiency. ICs also know that poor PIOs are under pressure for not meticulously following RTI provisions, lest many of PIOs’ bosses [including politicians] and colleagues would land in trouble. ICs hasten to levy penalties when their authority is challenged by PIOs by being absent in hearing or not complying with ICs orders. However, ICs forget that in a democracy citizens are the supreme authority. ICs are under impression that getting information is important and not the penalty, irrespective of breach of provisions or harassment to information seekers. Some ICs believe that at least now citizens are getting information, which was not available to them prior to RTI enactment, hence he should not think of penalty, whether imposed or waived. ICs feel that appellant or complainant has no right to insist upon penalty. It is ICs exclusive domain. ICs still hope that they may get some govt post even after demitting post of IC . India is a soft State even when it comes to terrorists and criminals. ICs give benefit to PIOs for civil violations of RTI, even when it affects fundamental rights. Many ICs are afraid of govt officers who hold high posts or are well connected. Appellants or complainants do not even insist in writing after the decision is pronounced, that penalty should have been imposed by IC by giving their justification for the penalty. There is no social audit of decisions of ICs nor is feedback given by RTI activists to concerned IC with a copy to Chief IC. Hence ICs do not improve. There are certain ICs and Chief ICs whose past record is full of misdeeds and they could escape penalties by manipulations and secrecy. Hence they have special love for defaulting [brother-like] PIOs. Politicians select only such ICs who cannot be attitudinally strict for benefit of common men at the cost of govt employees. Most of ICs are with govt. service background and mentally carry that baggage even after retirement. ICs are not adversely commented upon by auditors of CIC or SIC, even when the penalty is not imposed in very deserving cases. There is no system to effectively recover penalties even when imposed by ICs. This discourages ICs from penalizing. 41.68% of penalty is not recovered by CIC and situation in most SICs may be worse than this. PENALTY -WHY NOT.doc