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Saturday, September 8, 2007

RTI officer pulls up court

Rohit Mullick | TNN Chandigarh: In a big leap for RTI activism, the Punjab State Information Commission (PSIC) has in a landmark stricture pulled up a district court for not facilitating information sought by a retired bank officer.
In its order on August 13, the Commission came down heavily on the Amritsar district court and said there is no excuse for holding information sought by K S Kathuria, a retired AGM of Punjab and Sindh Bank. The Commission’s order came after Kathuria, an Amritsar resident, turned to the PSIC when the court denied him information on records that junior judicial officers had allegedly tampered with.
Dismissing the court’s plea that information was denied because there wasn’t any public information officer (PIO) appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, chief information commissioner (CIC) Rajan Kashyap asked the court to reply to Kathuria’s queries.

‘Rules framed to aid execution of statute’

Chandigarh: Asking the court to reply to Kathuria’s queries after dismissing the court’s plea, CIC Rajan Kashyap said: ‘‘A judge is a public authority and in the absence of a PIO he has to act as an information officer.’’ The CIC further told the court that ‘‘the implementation of the RTI Act cannot be kept pending because of delay in formation of rules by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The rules are framed to aid and not to obstruct the implementation of the statute.’’
The Commission also rejected another plea put forward by the court that the sought information was not provided as ‘‘it was of personal nature having no relation with any public activity.’’ To this the CIC shot back saying, ‘‘The sought information is not of personal nature but is in public interest and the proper maintenance of judicial record is of utmost importance. It would be naive to classify such information as personal information having no relationship to any public activity or interest.’’
Kathuria had demanded information on certain records which, according to him, were tampered by junior officials of the Amritsar court to frame him in a criminal case of foodgrain theft dating back to 1998. According to him, the court had directed the police to re-investigate the case against him but on both occasions he had been absolved.
Publication: Times Of India Chandigarh; Date:2007 Aug 31; Section:Front Page; Page Number 1

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