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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

M K Gupta:

If you want to take some information by filing RTI application and working in the temporary capacity, be ready to lose your service also. This is the lesson an RTI applicant Mahendra Kumar Gupta had learnt and now running for the restoration of his service. He was working as casual (temporary) employee in News Services Division, All India Radio, New Delhi. He filed RTI applications to seek some information for declaring him fail twice in the interview of casual editor after he qualified the written test, to know the reasons of inordinate delay in releasing payment to temporary staff against the duties performed by them. He also asked information on the selection criteria adopted for the appointment of private placement agency for providing casual stenos on Commission basis to the News Services Division, All India Radio, New Delhi through separate RTI applications at different time. In the first case, he received information on the order of the CIC and in two other cases, vague information but he was consequently removed from his casual employment from April, 2008 from the post on which he worked for the last six years. In his reply, Mr. D.K. Das, CPIO said that “it is the prerogative of the office to assign casual job………. ” and as per requirement of job, he did not deserve for the same. Mr. Gupta has not given up and sought further information as to why he suddenly became undeserving overnight. On this, he was informed that he is seeking information, which we feel in, not needed by him. The went in appeal before the Central Information Commission and Mrs. Annapurna Dixit, Information Commissioner ordered AIR to provide further information within 20 days to him. She also issued notice to the PIO asking him why a penalty should not be imposed on him. On the order of the CIC, while providing information, AIR informed that his “bonafide are doubtful” and he “does not operate computer properly”. When he sought copies of supporting papers on which Department arrived at the above conclusions, he was told that the record is not readily traceable. On the issue of bonafide are doubtful, On the order of the CIC, PIO has given an affidavit to M. K. Gupta informing that the papers are not available. His appeal against the information that he does not operate computer properly was heard on 5th of this month and during the hearing, Ms. Annapurna Dixit, IC ordered the PIO for give another affidavit to the her with a copy of the same to the applicant stating that record is not available. Applicant is waiting for the copy of the order from CIC. On being pointed out to the IC that how such affidavits are going to help the appellant, the Information Commissioner said that he can file his case in the Court of law where these affidavits will help him immensely. From this, it is clear that if somebody is removed from the service, the CIC, the watchdog agency, is unable to do anything and the victim will have to knock the door of the High Court. Shri Gupta has said that the CIC has wrongly dropped the penalty proceedings treating the case of denial of information as the case of delay in providing the information and he has now filed a review petition before the Information Commissioner, Ms. Annapurna Dixit.

If the RTI applicants will be removed from the service like this and CIC expresses its inability to help in the matter at his level, RTI act will come to a cropper, as every applicant does not have the resources, time and expertise to fight the case in the High Court wherein there is a long list of pending cases.

Prasar Bharati is one among the several organisations, which has been given the responsibility of promoting awareness among the public on Right to Information and for the thousands of temporary staff is working in the Prasar Bharati, RTI Act is becoming a dream. It is a moot question whether such officials with such an approach, Prasar Bharti will be able to do justice with this responsibility.

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