For More Info Log on to

Google Groups Subscribe to RTI Group
Browse Archives at

Saturday, September 8, 2007

PIOs pay for not giving details of info costs

Viju B I TNN, Mumbai: Withholding information under the Right To Information Act on frivo l o u s g ro u n d s can cost public information officers dear. For the first time, a senior official (appellate authority) of an organisation has imposed a penalty on a couple of subordinate information officers for not providing information under the act.
The appellate authority of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, Dombivli, also penalised the PIO and APIO for charging an RTI applicant a fee of Rs 2,477 without giving him an estimate or explaining how the calculation was arrived at. Bhiwandi resident Kumar Dhotre, the applicant, had last year sought details of a building commencement certificate issued to three units in the MIDC area.
“I learnt that many units were functioning without the BCC being granted and that officials were turning a blind eye to this activity,’’ Dhotre said, adding that the PIO told him that he would have to pay a fee of Rs 2,477 for the information.
Dhotre then approached the appellate authority saying that as the PIO had failed to give him an estimate of the cost involved, he should not be charged for the information under Section 7(6) of the RTI Act, 2005. Dhotre also urged that the PIO be penalised for his actions under Section 20(2) of the act.
During the course of the hearing, the PIO and APIO admitted that they had failed to provide the details of the expenses to the complainant. The appellate authority ruled that under the provisions of Section 7(6) of the act, the information sought should have been given free of cost. “As the detailed estimate was not given to the applicant, the information should be provided free... and the fees of Rs 2,477 should be recovered from the PIO and APIO, respectively.’’
In another case last week, the State Information Commission penalised the PIO—assistant registrar—of University Institute of Chemical Technology for not providing information to a blind person.
The SIC had imposed a fine of Rs 24,750 on the PIO after Balwant Joshi, the applicant, was forced to make numerous trips to UICT to get information on the refund of his son’s fees. “These penalties will definitely act as a deterrent to erring bureaucrats who withhold information out of vested interests or due to sheer inefficiency’’ noted RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi.
Publication: Times Of India Mumbai; Date:2007 Sep 04; Section:Times City; Page Number 7

No comments: