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Found 14 results

  1. Hi All, NCDRC, in case of REVISION PETITION NO. 4061 OF 2010 (Against the Order dated 14/09/2010 in Appeal No. 1163/2010 of the State Commission Karnataka) Held that: "Petitioner, in order to sort out the controversy with respect to his pensionary benefits, filed an application under Right to Information Act, 2005 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the RTI Act, 2005’) in the office of Opposite party No.4. Opposite party No.4 failed to provide the information. Petitioner then filed the complaint before the District Forum, which was allowed and a direction was issued to opposite party No.4 to furnish the required information. Respondent, being aggrieved, filed an appeal before the State Commission, which has been allowed by observing thus : “At the outset it is not in dispute that complainant had filed an application u/s 6 & 7 of the Right to Information Act to the OP No.4. But complainant cannot be considered as a consumer as defined under the C.P. Act since there is a remedy available for the complainant to approach the appellate authority u/s 19 of the RTI Act, 2005.” We agree with the view taken by the fora below. Petitioner cannot be claimed to be a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act. There is a remedy available for him to approach the Appellate Authority under Section 19 of the RTI Act, 2005. Dismissed. What we can we say now....? I did not find the judgement of Karnataka State Commission in Appeal No. 1163/2010. Not sure why only this appeal judgment is not available along with the judgments. I would say people shall continue to file consumer complaints against the PIO/PA by invoking the section 3, 2(1)(d)(ii) and 2(1)(g) of CP Act. Let the NCDRC finalise the issue. Wish you gud luck. Dear Malhotra Sir, Do you say that the citation mentioned in this post can not be reproduced and no need to believe this Order. Do you advice the RTI applicants to proceed refering earier decisions to relief from CPA. What is the meaning of your post above that say: [bNo, we do not indulge in witch hunt. There is no reason to believe anything that can not be reproduced . [/b] But it was referred in NCDRC while arguments and also the citation reference is part of the NCDRC Order. It does not matter whether the RTI applicant argued in the State Commission or not. In the natural justice point of NCDRC may consider the CP Act and pass orders. Dear Dr.Malhotra Sir, I have sme quiries as below: 1.Which provision of the RTI Act say that it is special Act, similarly which provision of CP Act say that it is general law. 2. If compensation calim is more than Rs.25,000/- then definitely RTI Act alone wont serve the purpose, am I correct. 3.If compensation claim is less than Rs.25,000/- and if the RTI applicant is already got order on second appeal or complaint before the Information Commission, then certainly the complaint before CP Act is not maintainable, am I correct? 4. If complaint under CP Act and also the complaint under RTI Act both are pending for claim more than Rs.25,000/-, then both the Information Commission and Consumer Forum shall hear the case till end to decide the replief, am I correct?
  2. I have made a Complaint against the working manners of the Commissioners of the Punjab State Information Commission. Which is as under : The Hon’ble President of India, Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi. Subject: Complaint against the working manners of the Commissioners of the Punjab State Information Commission, Chandigarh (Punjab). Respected Madam, The undersigned is a RTI activist and a firm believer that Right to Information Act, 2005 is the most proactive piece of legislation. He wants the system to work very efficiently and fairly. Because of this believe, he wants to bring an issue in your notice for your necessary action. Therefore, with due regards to the integrity and honor of Hon’ble Punjab State Information Commission, the undersigned wants to state that he is dealing with the Hon’ble State Information Commission, Punjab from three to four years. He has filed various Appeal and Complaint Cases with it and have attended several hearings personally and through representatives also. During this long tenure of official relationship, a fact has caught his eye that most of the Commissioners of the said Hon’ble Commission do not follow the principles of the Natural Justice. They do not pronounce their orders by providing reasoning for the same. As per Section 4 (1) (d) of theRight to Information Act, 2005 which read as: “Every public authority shall – provide reasons for its administrative or quasi judicial decisions to affected persons.” it is mandatory to provide the reasons for its administrative or quasi judicial decisions to the affected persons. Moreover, it is also one of the principles of Natural Justice that one should be told the reasons for the decision. Such right is part of the fundamental right to Freedom of Expression also. In this regard, the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Chairman, D.A., Rani LakshmiBai… vs Jagdish Sharan Varshney And Ors. on 26 March, 2009 has held that Every Order by a judicial or quasi-judicialauthority must contain reasons for the same to uphold public confidence. In this regard, the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam in WP©.No. 11973 of 2009(N) has stated that “Moreover, persons against whom quasi judicial decisions are taken are entitled to be told the reasons for the decision and such right is part of the fundamental right to Freedom of Expression and has now been statutorily laid down also in the Right To Information Act.” In an another case in WP©.No. 6796 of 2009(T) also the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam stated that “Days have gone when the courts have to repeatedly refer to classic works on Administrative Law by learned authors or refer to any fundamental principle of jurisprudence to show that a person against whom a decision may be passed or who would be affected by any such decision, is entitled to be heard and be told the reasons for the decision. Section 4(1)(d) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 provides that every public authority shall provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons.” In the case of Ibrahim Kunju v. State of Kerala (AIR 1970 Ker 65) it was held that “If no reasons are given in the appellate orders, then it is injustice to the natural justice because quasi judicial obligations are giving reasons for order, since justiceis not expected to wear the inscrutable face of a sphinx. However, most of the Commissioners violate this mandatory provision and the principles of Natural Justice and pronounce their orders without giving reasoning for the same. The undersigned can show number of cases where most of the Commissioners of the Hon’ble Commission have pronounced their orders without justifying them under Section 4(1) (d) of the Right to Information Act. Therefore, they by doing so are deliberately showing disrespect towards the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Courtand the Hon’ble High Courts. They even do not bother that they by doing so are also violating the fundamental right of expression provided by the Constitution of India itself. Moreover, during the course of hearings, the undersigned has observed that most of the Commissioners of the Hon’ble Commission, constantly and vociferously act in the favor of the respondents. They usually argue on behalf of the respondents whereas it is their duty to remain neutral. Their such behavior leaves a wrong effect on the mind of the appellants/complainants and they certainly doubt the justice to be provided by them.There is a well-known saying that the Judges are the depositories of the laws,living oracles, who must decide… according to the law of the land. However, the working mannerism of most of the Commissioners shows that they are certainly working contrary to their duties and their posts. Sir, “Fair Play is a part of the public policyand is a guarantee for justice to citizens. In our system of Rule of Law every social agency conferred with power is required to act fairly so that social action would be just and there would be furtherance of well-being of citizens.The rule of natural justice have developed with the growth of civilizations and the contract there of is often considered as a proper measure of the level of civilization and the Rule of law prevailing in the community.” – Per Ranganath Misra, J. in K.I. Shephard v. Union of India, (1987) 4 SCC 431 (Para15). Therefore, in light ofthe above-mentioned facts and circumstances, your goodself is requested that: Strict directions be passed to all the Commissioners of the Hon’ble Punjab State Information Commission, to pass their decisions in compliance with the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and Hon’ble High Courts and justify them under the Sections 4 (1) (d) of the RTI Act, 2005. In the interest of justice and fair play, all the Commissioners of the Hon’ble State Information Commission Punjab be directed to act in a neutral manner. Yours truly, Rohit Sabharwal Copy of the same is forwarded to: Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, New Delhi. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, New Delhi. Hon’ble Minister of Law and Justice, Government of India, New Delhi. Hon’ble Governor, Punjab Raj Bhawan, Chandigarh. Member Secretary, Law Commission of India, 2nd Floor, The Indian Law InstituteBuilding, (Opp. to Supreme Court), Bhagwandas Road, New Delhi- 110 001. Chief InformationCommissioner, Punjab State Information Commission, SCO84-85, Sector 17-C, Chandigarh.
  3. As reported by Rajni Shaleen Chopra at indianexpress.com on Nov 04 2011 At the Punjab Information Commission, honesty pays. An official of the Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (Powercom, the erstwhile Punjab State Electricity Board) who admitted to complete ignorance of the RTI Act has been forgiven after he promised to be vigilant in the future. However, two senior officers of other departments who tried to shirk responsibility when it came to providing information sought by RTI seekers have been imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 each by the Commission. Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Samrala Jasbir Singh has been directed by Punjab Information Commission to deposit Rs 10,000 in the state treasury for not giving information sought under RTI by a Ludhiana resident during his previous tenure as District Transport Officer (DTO), Amritsar. In another case, District Food Supply Controller (DFSC) Hoshiarpur, Rakesh Bhaskar deposited Rs 10,000 in the state treasury after being penalised by Information Commissioner PPS Gill. As DTO Amritsar, Jasbir Singh was the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the department, designated under the RTI Act. The SDM, who appeared in the court of Information Commissioner PPS Gill on October 31, claimed that while he was the DTO, the RTI information sought by one Jasbir Singh in November 2009 never came up before him. The Information Commissioner penalised the SDM after observing that this claim did not absolve him of his responsibility to ensure that the information was provided. The Commission also directed the present DTO of Amritsar, Vimal Setia, to take disciplinary action against a clerk Harjinder Kumar of his office for making a wrong statement in the Commission. Kumar misled the Commission by claiming that Jasbir Singh was now SDM Ajnala. Based on this information, in September the Commission sent a show-cause notice to Jasbir Singh at his Ajnala address though he was posted at Samrala. In the Hoshiarpur case, the District Food Supply Controller’s office delayed information sought under RTI Act to Kuldip Kumar Kaura of Ludhiana. Kaura had sought information on May 25, but it was given to him on September 8. The Commission noted that the reasons given by the DFSC for the delay were “deficient and vague”, and hence the officer was being penalised for showing scant respect for the RTI Act or the information-seekers. Meanwhile, a Junior Engineer of Powercom was forgiven by the Commission on October 31 after it was proved that there was no malafide intention in the delay of 10 months in giving the information sought by RTI applicant Achhra Singh at Nabha. The order delivered Information Commissioner Ravi Singh records that the JE said “he was earlier not familiar with the fact that RTI Act, 2005, and came to know of it recently during the movement of Anna Hazare.” The JE’s ignorance was further proved when he claimed that no one was designated as the PIO or Assistant PIO in their office. The Powercom website gives an exhaustive list of its PIOs and APIOs at its offices all over the state. The JE added that the inordinate delay in giving information was caused due to frequent shifting of the office premises, and non-availability of adequate infrastructure, but the department would be vigilant about all RTI queries henceforth. Information Commissioner Ravi Singh recorded that penalty was not being imposed since no malafide was suspected on part of the department for delaying the information. However, she sent a copy of the order to Chairman Powercom to ensure that all its employees are duly educated about the RTI Act.
  4. As reported by Jasneet Bindra on Jul 30 2011 at indianexpress.com Just before the code of conduct for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections — which will be held on September 18 — came into force, the Punjab government had cleared the appointment of two information commissioners. The notification for appointment of former IAS officer Bidhi Chand Thakur and journalist with an English daily, Chander Prakash, was issued on Thursday. Though the government claimed that the notification was issued in the evening — before the code came into force — sources said the orders were issued in a jiffy late in the evening. Incidentally, the notification of three commissioners appointed during the tenure of the previous Congress government in 2007 was also issued a day before the code of conduct for the Assembly elections had come into force. The government was in a hurry to appoint the two commissioners, as the code will remain in force for about a month-and-a-half. While the names of Thakur and Prakash were cleared early this year, the file was not approved by Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil, who, according to sources, had expressed some reservations. Besides, people from the civil society and RTI activists had also objected to the move. However, Principal Secretary (Information Technology) A R Talwar told The Indian Express that the Governor just wanted to ensure that the eligibility of the persons appointed should be as per the RTI Act. The commissioners cannot join till the oath is administered by the Governor. Asked if the swearing-in will be held under the poll code, Talwar — while confirming that the notification was issued on Thursday evening — said the date for oath has not been decided. But in case there was a hitch, the Gurdwara Election Commission will be consulted. The Punjab State Information Commission, at present, has four commissioners. With these two appointments, four seats will be left vacant. As per the RTI Act, a state commission can have 10 commissioners and a CIC. As soon as the SGPC polls are over, the government will go in an overdrive to appoint more, as three commissioners — P P S Gill, Kulbir Singh and Ravi Singh — will retire in January next year, just before the Assembly elections. The latest appointment to the commissioner’s post was of Jaspal Kaur, daughter-in-law of SAD MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder, in November 2009. The decision had kicked up storm with the Opposition Congress accusing the government of making the commission a parking place for its trusted lieutenants.
  5. As reported by Ajay Sura at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 10 May 2011 CHANDIGARH: Some of Punjab`s cash-rich institutions, including the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA), will be under the purview of the Right to Information Act. Upholding a State Information Commission, Punjab, order, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday brought PCA under the RTI. The court has also directed that the Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association, Gymkhana Club, Jallandhar, Sutlej Club, Ludhiana, will come under the RTI. Also included are all co-operative societies, co-operative sugar mills, co-operative house building societies and co-operative banks in Punjab and Haryana and private schools controlled under the Education Act in Haryana. Justice MS Sullar heard a bunch of petitions filed by various organizations challenging the orders passed by the state information commissions of Punjab and Haryana. The petitions were regarding the applicability of RTI Act to sports associations, sports clubs, co-operative sugar mills, co-operative house building societies and co-operative banks in the two states. Petitioners had also sought direction to declare those bodies as "public authorities" under the RTI Act. Sullar expressed shock over the growing tendency on the part of institutions to deny information and attempting to defeat the RTI Act, which has been enacted to introduce transparency. He also referred to "corruption eating into the democratic fabric like a parasite." Justice Sullar said PCA was given 13.56 acre land at a token rental of Rs100 a year. It has received grants from PUDA (Rs 10.15 lakh), Punjab Sports Council (Rs 15 lakh), Punjab Small Savings (Rs 77 lakh) and BCCI (Rs 2,026.66 lakh). It has also received Rs 8.50 crore from PUDA to construct the stadium and Rs.1.65 lakh for the construction of Club House. This makes it a "public authority," the judge said. He also noted that exemption from entertainment duty to PCA and other sports bodies by the government also amounted to "substantial finance" to them.
  6. As reported at punjabnewsline.com by Gurpreet Singh Mehak on 09 May 2011 FATEHGARH SAHIB: A 76-year-old retired account officer, resident of Sirhind town of district Fatehgarh Sahib will get compensation of Rs 3,000 from Public Information Officer(PIO), Principal Secretary, Local Bodies Department, Punjab for unnecessary harassment. Jaspal Kaur, State Information Commissioner directed the PIO to provide complete information and the compensation before next date of hearing July 4, 2011. N.K. Sayal, who is also member of RTI Activist Federation (Punjab) had detected a fraud after he obtained information about Municipal Council (MC) Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib works under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Sayal had sought information from the MC on October 1, 2007 about the works conducted by it departmentally from April 2006 to March, 2007. After getting information, he complained to Fatehgarh Sahib Deputy Commissioner and other higher authorities about the irregularities. The DC got conducted the inquiry from Additional Deputy Commissioner(ADC) and on the basis of these reports he recommended departmental action against then MC Junior Engineer (JE) Harmail Singh Jandu as the inquiry established that he had embezzled Rs 2 lakh . The ADC also recommended to recover this amount from the JE. The DC submitted this report to Director Local Bodies Department for taking administrative action. Sayal said the MC had prepared an estimate on August 31, 2006 for laying earth on a road at an estimated cost of Rs 2 lakh. He said during the ADC inquiry it was found that no work was done and the JE had claimed to have executed the work departmentally and payment of Rs 1,97,880 was made in September, 2007. Sayal pointed out that though the works are claimed to have been done departmentally by the MC but payments had been made to the contractors. As per the ADC’s report, no earth work for the estimate of Rs 2 lakh had been done at the site. The ADC also found that another estimate of Rs 5 lakh was again prepared for the same work and tenders were called on February 29, 2008 by the council, following which part of the work was executed.As per Sayal after the ADC inquiry , the same inquiry was entrusted by Director, Local Bodies Department to the Deputy Director Local Government(DDLG), Ludhiana . He said the DDLG, Ludhiana has also subscribed to the report of DC, Fatehgarh Sahib after inspecting the site and going through all the connected record. He said third inquiry was conducted by Chief Vigilance Officer(CVO), Local Bodies Department. He claimed that all the three inquiry officers had confirmed the fraud through their independent reports submitted to Director, Local Bodies department. He said CVO had detected fraud of Rs 7 lakh. Sayal said initially the information was sought under RTI Act from Director Local Bodies on April 1, 2010 about the final action taken against the persons involved in the fraud. The Director in his reply told Sayal that the matter is being investigated by CVO and when Sayal approached the CVO authorities under RTI Act, and the PIO of CVO against asked him to contact Director, Local government as they submitted their report to the Director for taking necessary action. When Sayal again approached the Director under RTI Act, the Director asked him to approach principal secretary , local government department as the case file has been sent to his office for action. Then Sayal approached principal secretary under RTI act but he was not provided information so he approached State Information Commission. He said despite repeated adjournments of the case, PIO of the principal secretary failed to supply the information. During the last hearing of the case, State Information Commissioner Jaspal Kaur observed, “Local bodies department is not following the provisions of the RTI Act seriously and taking the things in a casual manner. Such an attitude on the part of local bodies department is not appreciated. Complainant(Sayal) has to attend the hearing time and again and face unnecessary harassment for which he deserves to be compensated. He is accordingly awarded a compensation of Rs 3,000 which shall be paid to him by the department.”
  7. As reported by Jasneet Bindra at indianexpress.com on Sep 23 2010 The Punjab State Information Commission directed a former district governor of Lions’ Club International to provide information on income, expenditure and bank statements of the club under the RTI Act. State Information Commissioner Lt Gen P K Grover (Retd) has marked a copy of the order to Neville A Mehta, International Secretary, India, South Asia and East Africa, Lions’ Club International, Mumbai, for taking cognisance. Grover took the decision while hearing the case of Parbodh Chander Bali of Amritsar who had sought information from Rajiv Kukreja, the then governor of district 321-D, Lions’ Club International, Tanda Urmar (Hoshiarpur), on March 11. On not getting a response, he filed an appeal with the first appellate authority on April 21 and subsequently with the commission on August 17. Bali submitted that the club was financed by the government, directly and indirectly, and therefore fell within the purview of the RTI Act. Dr Mohinderjit Singh, the incumbent district governor who was present on behalf of the respondent, said since he had taken over recently and the documents were held by Kukreja, the latter should be asked to provide the replies. Grover issued a fresh notice to Kukreja and directed him to submit replies to Bali, and also sent copies of the order to the Hoshiarpur deputy commissioner and the International Association of Lions’ Clubs, Lions’ Clubs International, Jalandhar. Bali told The Indian Express that to prove that the club was a public authority, he produced the lease deed from the Amritsar Municipal Corporation in favour of the club for 16,805 square yards at a prime location in Ram Bagh Garden at the rate of Re 1 per month. He also furnished the sale deed executed in favour of Lions’ Club, near Golden Temple, from Amritsar Improvement Trust for 726 square yards at the rate of Rs 160 per sq yard in March this year, while the market price of the land was about Rs 2 lakh per sq yard. Bali said he had also sought information about the financial aids provided to the club by the government and list of projects being run by District 321-D, and all clubs under its control. Bali said he had also asked if the club had taken government land on rent or lease, and for what amount.
  8. Atul Patankar

    Showcause notice to Sutlej Club PIO

    As reported by Jasneet Bindra at indianexpress.com on Sep 23 2010 Chandigarh : A full Bench of the Punjab State Information Commission, comprising CIC R I Singh, SICs Lt Gen PK Grover (Retd) and Surinder Singh, served a showcause notice on the public information officer (PIO) of Ludhiana’s Sutlej Club on Tuesday for failing to provide information to an applicant. The club was declared a public authority under the RTI Act over two months ago. S S Chana, the applicant, had sought information regarding establishment, organisation structure and accounts of the club. The bench served a show-cause notice, asking why penalty should not be imposed on the PIO for not providing information. “In addition to a written reply, which he may file, the PIO has also been given opportunity of a personal hearing before imposition of penalty on the next date of hearing,” the bench said. In case he fails to file a reply and does not avail of the personal hearing opportunity, the commission will proceed against him ex parte. The case will come up for hearing on September 27. During the last hearing, after perusal of various records, the bench had come to the conclusion that the club was not “a purely private body”, as it was substantially financed by the government, besides the Ludhiana DC was its ex officio president. The commission had verified the ownership of the land through the office of the Ludhiana deputy commissioner, too.
  9. As reported in indianexpress.com on 23 July 2010: Video conferencing at info panel in a month Video conferencing at info panel in a month The Punjab State Information Commission will start videoconferencing facility in a month. The necessary infrastructure has been provided by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and it will be started as soon as the required internet lines are put in place. The commission is trying to get another floor on rent to set up the facility, but in case that does not materialise, one of the courtrooms will be used for the purpose. Sources said the project would start from the border districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepur. The deputy commissioners’ offices, which also have the required infrastructure set up by the NIC, will be used to run the facility. Punjab Chief Information Commission R I Singh, however, said a final decision on this had not been taken yet. Videoconferencing was a long pending demand of RTI activists and people from far-off areas, who faced difficulty in coming to the commission for hearings. To help these people, the RTI Federation of Punjab had appointed representatives to argue their cases. Earlier, the commission used to compile cases from one district and send a commissioner there for hearings. This practice, however, did not last long.
  10. As posted by Jasneet Bindra at indianexpress.com on Feb 03, 2010 Chandigarh : Punjab Chief Information Commissioner R I Singh has asked the police to provide an RTI applicant a copy of the inquiry report into a land deal, in which a woman allegedly sold part of a public street through a registered deed. Dismissing the police plea that this was third party information as the complainant was not a party to the case, Singh said, “The information is of public interest, as it has been alleged that an individual has fraudulently sold public land. Police have conducted an inquiry and papers related to it are public documents.” Ludhiana resident Mehar Chand had sought copies of the report of the inquiry conducted by the Economic Offences Wing of the police. The appellant alleged that Sawaranjit Kaur had fraudulently transferred a part of the public street by a registered deed in favour of Harvinder Singh. Ludhiana SSP (the PIO) and IGP, Zonal-II, Jalandhar (the first appellate authority) were respondents in the case. Kaur had earlier entered into an agreement with Jaswant Singh for sale of the property, but when he realised that she did not own the land, he withdrew. Alleging fraud, Jaswant submitted an application to the SSP, Ludhiana, and an inquiry was conducted by the EO Wing. Mehar Chand said public interest was involved in this case and police inquiry has established fraud in the deal. The respondent, on the other hand, took the plea that Mehar Chand was a third party as he was neither the complainant before the police nor the disputed property’s owner. The CIC said Section 11 of the RTI Act requires a PIO to give a written notice to the third party and invite submission asking whether information should be disclosed. “If public interest is involved, which outweighs the interest of third party, information must be disclosed. The criterion is of public interest,” Singh said. “There is nothing confidential about either the complainant made by Jaswant Singh or the conduct of Sawaranjit Kaur for which information should be withheld,” the CIC said Source: Information under RTI Act can be provided to third party, CIC tells police
  11. As reported by Jasneet Bindra at indianexpress.com on January 8, 2010 Chandigarh : A PIO of the office of Director, Food and Civil Supplies Department, Punjab, got an earful from a Punjab State Information Commissioner for denying information to a retired employee of the department on the ground that his RTI application was not filed on a prescribed form. The case concerns retirement benefits of complainant Brij Lal Sharma of Barnala that have not been released by the Food and Civil Supplies Department as a case involving loss of wheat worth Rs 60,817 in 2002-03 was stated to be pending against him. The complainant had filed an application under the RTI Act, asking for an attested copy of any notice, if it was issued, for this alleged shortage, and a copy of evidence showing that it was delivered to him. The respondent wrote to the complainant, saying that he should file the application on the prescribed form and also send the amount required to be spent on photocopying the information and sending it by post. Displeased over the response, SIC P K Verma said, “This reply of the respondent suffers from two defects. Firstly, it has been held by the commission in various cases that if an application is made on plain paper and application fee has also been sent, the information cannot be refused merely on the ground that the plea was not made on the prescribed form. Secondly, the amount required to be sent by the complainant as fee was not intimated to him. The complainant nevertheless sent Rs 100, after which the respondent directed the superintendent of the Shortage and Excess Branch to supply the information to the complainant, which has still not been done.” While directing the respondent to ensure that copies of documents sought by the complainant are given, Verma said, “Supply of information has already been delayed. The respondent has also ignored the notice issued by the commission and is not present either personally or through any representative. It is clear that if these orders are not complied with, steps would be taken for imposition of penalties under Section 20 of the RTI Act.” Source: PIO asks for application on prescribed form, reprimanded
  12. As reported at indianexpress.com on Dec 15, 2009 Chandigarh : Information regarding assets of Punjab IAS officers is not exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act, as annual property returns submitted by the government employees are in public domain, ordered State Information Commissioner Lt Gen P K Grover (Retd). He noted that the decision should be considered as a step to contain corruption in government offices, since such disclosures may reveal assets disproportionate to known sources of income. The order came following a February 2009 application filed by Convener of RTI Users, H C Arora, seeking information pertaining to property returns of IAS officers of the state. He had filed an appeal with the first appellate authority on April 1, after his request was declined. On not getting a suitable response, he moved the State Information Commission on September 30, 2009. The respondent, PIO of the Department of Personnel (IAS Branch), Punjab Civil Secretariat, had denied the information, stating that it would adversely affect the “working and morale” of the officers, as the disclosure would lead to “unnecessary controversy”, and state’s interest would suffer. Moreover, the disclosure would serve no public interest. The applicant said the property returns were submitted by the IAS officers under Rule 16 (2) of the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968, and thus, “the information being obligatory/involuntary must be disclosed in public interest”. He also submitted a copy of the Karnataka High Court order pertaining to disclosure of assets by government servants. Lt Gen Grover said, “All IAS officers have to disclose their and their family members’ assets as per Rule 16 (2) of the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968. Therefore, such information is not exempted from disclosure.” He directed the respondent to provide copies of property returns of the specified IAS officers by December 24, exempting those officers who have retired. Notably, in an earlier appeal by Arora, the information commission had directed the PIO in the office of Punjab DGP to provide details of property returns of all the IPS officers serving in Punjab, except those retired or on the Central deputation. “The government is, however, seeking adjournments in the case on one pretext or the other, and the order is yet to be complied with,” said Arora. Source: ‘Assets of IAS officers can be disclosed under RTI Act’
  13. As reported by Jasneet Bindra at indianexpress.com on Dec 19, 2009 Chandigarh : The little knowledge Punjab officers have of the RTI Act even four years after its implementation can be gauged from the response of the office of Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), Amritsar. The AETC office asked an applicant to provide his identity and residence proofs, such as PAN and ration cards, to prove that he was genuine, and also sought to know the reason for seeking information. Irked by the lax attitude, State Information Commissioner Lt Gen P K Grover (retd) asked S S Brar, Financial Commissioner, Taxation, to take cognisance of the lapses, and penalised the PIO. The SIC said, “The respondent has shown utter disregard for the RTI Act. It is amazing to observe that the officer wanted to check the identity of the applicant, authenticity of his address and the purpose for which information was demanded.” Applicant Yogesh Mahajan of Pathankot had sought information regarding evasion of excise duty and sales tax on October 23, 2008. After he did not receive a proper response, he filed a complaint with the State Information Commission in July. The SIC directed the respondent PIO to submit an affidavit, as to why penalty should not be imposed on him for the delay— as the information was provided in parts after about a year— and why compensation should not be awarded to the appellant. Through an affidavit, Harinder Pal Singh, AETC, Mobile Wing, Amritsar, said they had formed an opinion that the information was sought by the third party because the seeker “has no locus standi to call for the information”. “Moreover, the applicant did not provide any evidence related to his residential status, such as a copy of the PAN card, ration card or any other lawful evidence,” he said, adding that since he was concealing his identity, he may not be eligible for seeking information. Citing the reason for delay, he said after they found out that he was a genuine applicant, the information was furnished. Giving a reply on the show-cause notice, he said the question of compensation does not arise because “the state representative acted in a bona fide manner and did not cause any loss to the applicant”. However, the SIC said the PIO reacted after over nine months when a notice was issued by the commission and the overall response was insufficient and lackadaisical. Imposing a fine of Rs 10,000 on Harinder Pal Singh, Lt Gen Grover said the amount should be deducted from his salary in two equal installments. He, however, awarded no compensation to the appellant, as he failed to justify the damage suffered by him. Source: RTI Act: Official asks reason for seeking info, fined
  14. As reported at indianexpress.com on Nov 11, 2009 The most responsible person in a department should be made the Public Information Officer (PIO) and not the most incompetent one, as was the practice. This was the consensus that emerged at a seminar organised by Direct Taxes Regional Training Institute on the ‘RTI Act: The Progress So Far and the Road Ahead’ on Tuesday. Giving an instance, former Chief Information Commissioner of Punjab Rajan Kashyap said during his tenure he discovered that the Punjab Police was most efficient in giving information as the PIOs in all districts were SSPs and the first appellate authority was the ADGP. “Having a senior officer as the PIO ensures that the information is provided on time,” he said. Punjab State Information Commissioner Rupan Deol Bajaj said, “Locate the smartest person in your office and depute him as the PIO. It has been seen that some offices, considering the RTI Act as a burden, were appointing the most incompetent employee to the post.” Asserting that the RTI Act is a two-way street, she said, “An efficient PIO will not only provide correct information to the applicant, but while compiling data will also find out lacunae in the functioning of the department and report it to the higher authorities. Sometimes information sought may be an eye-opener for the department.” Arvind Kejriwal, Ramon Magsaysay award winner and social activist, said the bureaucracy needs to change its mindset. “Corrupt officials not giving information is understood. But it’s the honest ones who resist the most, as they feel that why should they give information when they have done no wrong. This age-old mentality needs to change.” MISUSE OF THE LAW Drawing the attention of experts towards the misuse of the Act, Chief Commissioner of Income Tax P K Chopra said some people send in RTI applications daily, giving no time to the officer to attend to his office. Qaiser Shamim, an IRS officer, said a few days ago, his office received a letter by a person declaring his assets on which he has never paid income tax. “Interestingly, the last line in the letter said in a threatening tone that soon an RTI application would be filed,” he said, adding that some miscreants have been using RTI to stop officers from taking action against them. SIC Rupan Deol Bajaj appealed to the people not to use the Act to test the system, and asked the information commissions to take an overall view of the cases. She said the new threat being heard in the government corridors was, “RTI paa doonga (I will file an RTI application). Citizens should ask for only that information, which is humanly possible to compile in 30 days.” Source: Make smartest employee of dept PIO: Rupen Deol Bajaj
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