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Make smartest employee of dept PIO: Rupen Deol Bajaj


Atul Patankar

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Atul Patankar

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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Atul Patankar
Citizens should ask for only that information , which is humanly possible to compile in 30 days.”

 

Did such 'human' consideration cross the law makers' minds earlier? That's one thing RTI has achieved!

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