Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Central Information Commission raps Puducherry for RTI violation

 The Central Information Commission has pulled up Puducherry government for violating provisions of the RTI Act by appointing a single person as public information officer as well as the first appellate authority in a government college. 

The case relates to some information sought by RTI activist L Selvam Flaubert from Bharathiar Palkalaikoodam, a government performing arts college in Puducherry. Information commissioner Yashovardhan Azad, who heard an appeal from Flaubert through videoconferencing on August 2, asked the chairman of the college to rectify the mistake of appointing the same person as public information officer as well as the first appellate authority. 

Azad also pulled up the government for not providing full information - year of establishment of the Karaikal branch of the college, number of employees engaged with names, salary and wages, budget allocation and reasons for closure of the branch - sought by Flaubert. 

The PIO and the first appellate authority, while providing much of the information sought by the RTI activist, said the reason for closure could not be provided as the relevant records were untraceable. The commission directed the government to conduct an inquiry to fix responsibility on officials concerned for loss of records. The government has to send the action taken report to the commission within a month. 

The public information officer, on June 15, 2012, sought three months time to furnish reasons for closure of the Karaikal branch of the college. He said the files were not traceable and he needed time to search them. An appeal to the appellate authority also evoked a similar response on October 30, 2012. 

The activist then preferred an appeal before the central information commission on November 5, 2012. In his complaint, the activist charged that the PIO was deliberately hiding information. 

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