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  1. As per Section 5(3), the proviso to section 6(1), section 7(4) the designated authorities, INCLUDING INFORMATION COMMISSIONERS, are required to assist the information seeker. The commission is। is also required to provide this assistance to appellant as per Para 10 of its judgement in WP(C)-7295 OF 2017 is under a statutory obligation to provide all reasonable assistance to the information seeker. Even a layman or an illiterate person may seek information as he has the constitutional right under article 19(1)(a) of the constitution of India as well as under RTI ACT. This is a very formidable tool to deal with the defying information Commissions across the country. IN THE HIGH COURT OF JHARKHAND AT RANCHI W.P. (C) No. 7295 of 2017 PARA 10. The provision of Section 6(1) specifically provides that the Public Information Officer has to render all possible assistance to the information seeker. The intention of the legislature is quite clear in this regard. Though in Section6, the word “Central Public Information Officer “or the “State Public Information Officer “has been used, however, the same is applicable to the appellate authorities also as it is a settled law that an appeal is the continuation of the original proceeding. Thus, the State Information Commission being the second appellate authority is under statutory obligation to provide all reasonable assistance to the information seeker. Even a lay man or an illiterate person may seek information as he has the constitutional right under Article 19(1)(a)of the Constitution of India as well as the statutory right under the Act, 2005 and if a person who seeks information under the Act, 2005is debarred from appearing in-person before the statutory authorities, the same will defeat the very purpose of the legislation. Debarring - Jharkahnd HC - Debarring information seeker illegal.pdf
  2. RTIFED NEWS CHANDIGARH: 12 JANUARY 2012 HC INTEREFERES FOR DIRECTING HSSC TO DISCLOSE MARKS OF WRITTEN TEST OF ASSTT. SECRETARY’S EXAMINATION In a peculiar case of its own kind, a civil writ petition filed by Sukhwant Kaur of Fatehabad, seeking a direction to the Haryana Staff Selection Commission to produce her answer sheet of the written test conducted for appointment to post of Assistant Secretary by the HSSC, came up for consideration before the Justice K. Kannan today. The petitioner leveled a serious allegation that the HSSC is not disclosing her marks obtained by her in written test and interview despite two applications submitted by her, in addition to another application submitted by her under the RTI Act . She alleged that the HSSC had declared the result of selection on 18 October 2011, and that the last candidate in general category had been stated to have been awarded 248 marks in aggregate, in written test and interview. She alleged that as per her private information, she scored more than 300 marks in written test alone, and was bound to be selected even if awarded zero marks in interview, and that the HSSC is deliberately delaying the supply of information to her, and is likely to destroy the answer sheets of candidates, as per its practice, on expiry of 3 months from the date of declaration of result of selection, which period is expiring on January 18th itself. Accepting the submissions made by her Counsel, H.C. Arora, Justice Kannan issued notice to the HSSC for February 10th through the State Government’s Law Officer, and directed him to seek the requisite information from HSSC on the next date of hearing. ________________________________________ – As reported by Advocate H.C. Arora, Counsel for Petitioner. He is a practicing Lawyer at Punjab & Haryana High Court at Chandigarh and is President of RTIFED. DELETED EXTERNAL LINK
  3. RTIFED News TOMORROW NEWS TODAY CHANDIGARH: 10 DECEMBER 2011 ]ACCOUNTANT GENERAL (AUDIT) REPORT LAMBASTS PUNJAB MINISTERS ON DISCRETIONARY GRANTS In response to a PIL filed by RTI Activists-cum-Advocate, H.C. Arora, praying for issuance of direction to the State of Punjab to introduce some effective safeguards against misuse of discretionary grants by CM/Ministers and Chief Parliamentary Secretaries, the Accountant General (Audit), Punjab has filed its affidavit through Sh. Raghubir Singh, Deputy Accountant General (Inspection Civil and Administration), clarifying the manner in which the audit of discretionary grants disbursed by Punjab Chief Minister and Cabinet Ministers, including Parliamentary Secretaries, are audited. The AG (Audit) Punjab, alongwith its affidavit has enclosed “Theme audit report” which states that AG (Audit) Punjab is not authorized to audit the accounts of the, Clubs, Colleges or other NGOs to whom the grants are issued by the State Government out of public funds. However, under “The Comptroller and Auditor General Duties/Powers and Conditions of Service Act, 1971”, the Governor can direct the audit of the accounts of such NGOs also. The AG, Punjab (Audit) has further stated in its audit reports that under Punjab Financial Rules, Volume-I, discretionary grants can be sanctioned only upon satisfaction of certain conditions, including the requirement to submit the audited statements of accounts before the sanction of such grants so that the grant may be justified by the financial position of the grantee, and to ensure that the previous grants, if any, given for the purpose had been utilized for which those were given. Besides, the beneficiary of discretionary grant has to execute a bond that it shall abide by the conditions of grant and shall refund the grant in case of breach of terms and conditions of the bond. This condition is also required to be incorporated in the sanction letter. The aforesaid provisions of rules are not being complied with while sanctioning discretionary grants in Punjab. In the “theme audit report” for the period 2009-2010 of the discretionary grants, it is stated that under the guidelines for disbursement of discretionary grants by Cabinet Ministers, a Cabinet Minister cannot sanction discretionary grants exceeding 50 per cent of the quota in his own constituency, however, “Sh. Manoranjan Kalia sanctioned grants of 80 per cent approximately in his own Constituency, during the period 2009-10, which is irregular”. The audit report states that although the grants can be sanctioned for repair, maintenance and renovation of school buildings, such grants are not permitted for construction of rooms of the school building. However, during the year 2009-2010, an amount of Rs. 63.90 lacs in 21 cases was sanctioned and disbursed to the colleges and school management for construction of rooms in contravention of the approved guidelines. The audit report further discloses that while under the guidelines, the discretionary grant cannot be sanctioned for the same purpose during the same year, and a certificate is required to be obtained from grantee/institutions specifying clearly that said institutions has not been sanctioned any grant for the same purpose by any other departments during the same period, “yet an amount of Rs. 65.50 lacs by way of discretionary grants has been sanctioned and disbursed in the same financial year, which reveals that undue favour was given to the beneficiary.” As the requisite certificate was not obtained from the grantees, in the absence of which it could not be ascertained whether any such beneficiary had not obtained any monetary benefit in the shape of grant during the same period. The audit report also gives some instances of issues of misutilisation of discretionary grants by the beneficiaries, and it has been pointed out that a grant of Rs. 10 lacs was released in September, 2009 to “Chandigarh-Punjab Union of Journalists” for overall social development works. However, an amount of Rs. 2.30 lacs was used for the purposes not covered under the social works, and an amount of Rs. 7.70 lacs is still lying unspent with the aforesaid association. “This had resulted not only into the misutilisation of Government funds, but also resulted in blockade of Government money without any requirement.” The audit report further points out that a discretionary grant of Rs. 5 lacs was sanctioned in favour of “Indian Media Centre” (IMC), Ludhiana, during 2009-2010 for construction of new shopping complex”. However, the IMC is operating its office in a rented building and construction was not allowed therein. It was further revealed through discussion that money was lying unspent with IMC till June. This shows the callousness attitude of DDO as he should verify the facts about the beneficiary to whom the grant was released. The affidavit points out that huge amount out of sanction grants are being disbursed with an inordinate delay by the concerned officers. The audit report, however points out that utilization certificates were not being received from the departmental officers. It is pointed out that as on June, 2010, utilization certificates for Rs. 8.86 crores in respect of 459 grants released upto November, 2009 had not been received till June, 2010. Thus, the utilization of grant for intended purpose could not be ascertained. Coming to the grants sanctioned out of the Small Savings Schemes, it is pointed out that scrutiny of records in March, 2010 of the Director Small Savings Punjab, revealed that the net savings collections mobilized during the year 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 was minus (negative). However, at the instance of the Chief Minister and Finance Minister, annual budget of grants from Small Savings Scheme was sanctioned at Rs. 3 crores and Rs. 2 crores each for discretionary use of CM and FM respectively, for the year 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. This was done in the face of guidelines of the department of Small Savings Punjab, that only 1 per cent of the Net Saving collections mobilized in the preceding year in the Small Savings Schemes launched by Government of India is to be used by CM and FM every year as Prize money. It is pointed out that out of the discretionary grants given from Small Savings Schemes, an amount of Rs. 10 Crore was sanctioned and disbursed between 2008 -2010 by the District Small Savings Officers in disregard of the provisions contained in rules, and without satisfying the requisite condition of submission of audited statement of accounts and execution of a bond for re-fund of the grant in the case of breach of terms and conditions of sanction of grants. l As regards the receipt of utilization certificates against grants out of small savings, it is stated that the utilization certificates for an amount of Rs. 7 crores (out of total amount sanctioned/disbursed as Rs. 9.7 Crores) are yet to be received pertaining to the years 2008-2010. Indicting, though without naming the CM, it is stated in the audit report accompanying the affidavit that in violation of the finance rules, and even without stating clearly the purpose for sanctioning the grant, an amount or Rs. 1.50 crore was sanctioned/released to the Deputy Commissioners of Muktsar and Bathinda Districts, out of Small Savings Schemes, without specifying the purpose, and that too at the fag-end of the year, and those grants were latter disbursed to the beneficiaries without obtaining the requisite documents and execution of bonds. The aforesaid PIL is now scheduled to be listed for further hearing before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on12 December next. ________________________________________ – As reported by Advocate H.C. Arora, Petitioner In Person. He is a practicing Lawyer at Punjab & Haryana High Court at Chandigarh.
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