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Sunday, February 11, 2007

RTI: CIC hits out at Delhi Police

NEW DELHI: Pulling up the Delhi Police for its inorderly RTI redressal mechanism, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the local administration to take steps towards enabling information access to RTI applicants without any harassment.

"It is important that the public authority (Delhi Police) sets its house in complete order so that no information-seeker suffers any harassment in filing his request for information, paying the fee, receiving the information and so on," said Information Commissioner A N Tiwari in a recent order.

The CIC was hearing an appeal-cum-complaint filed by one Rishi Chawla wherein he complained that the system for receipt of fee, applications and transmission of information as managed by the police was far from being citizen-friendly.

Stressing that disclosure of information under RTI Act was of primary importance, the Commission stated that an information-request should not be turned down merely because it was not accompanied with the requisite fee.

"The proper thing to do in such a situation could be to accept the application, set in motion the process of information collection and then intimate the appellant to present the proof of remitting the fee by a given date...," it added.

The Commission, which was hearing over the complaints raised by Chawla on issues of the police's failure to effectively disclose information under the Act, further said that such complaints were not uncommon against the local police administration.

"The appellant/complainant has brought up concerns which appeared to be common to all information-seeker vis-à-vis the Delhi Police," it said.

The Commission made adverse remarks over the frequent failure of the Delhi Police's Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) in communicating their contact details while replying to the information-seekers.

"This (non-specification of the CPIO's name and contact details) prevents the applicant from bringing to their notice any infirmity or irregularity he may find in the information provided to him," said the Commission.

Earlier, Chawla had filed an RTI application with the Delhi Police to which a reply was provided to him.

Chawla, unsatisfied with the CPIO's reply, filed an appeal-cum-complaint before the Commission stating his grievances against DP's RTI redressal procedure.

The Commission, which blamed the police administration for its prevailing lacuna in its RTI disclosure mechanism, has remitted the case back to Joint Commissioner of Police (HQ) who is the concerned Appellate Authority, to disclose the details sought, within four weeks.

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