Jhajjar, August 2
Naresh Kumar Joon, a head constable of the Delhi police, hailing from Noona Majra village near Bahadurgarh, got the shock of his life when he was directed to deposit a whopping Rs 5 lakh for availing information from the senior medical officer (SMO) at Bahadurgarh community health centre, who also acts as public information officer (PIO).
He, however, filed an appeal with the State Information Commission (SIC), following which the SIC directed the PIO to allow the applicant access to the records.
But when I scanned the records most of the documents were missing, he said, adding that he would complaint to the SIC. He also alleged misappropriation of funds of the health centre.
Joon, husband of staff nurse Darshna, who is posted at the CHC, Bahadurgarh, filed an application with the civil surgeon, Jhajjar, on December 12, 2006, seeking information on nine points regarding various kinds of fees being charged at the centre. After dithering for about four months, the civil surgeon entertained his application and directed the SMO to provide the information and charge the requisite fee.
The SMO dispatched a letter to the applicant on April 20, asking him to shell out Rs 492,100 as the cost of providing the information. It includes Rs 375,200 as charge for providing copies of 3,750 medical legal reports (MLRs) at a rate of Rs 100 per MLR and Rs 40,650 for issuing 813 post mortem reports at a cost of Rs 50 per report. Significantly, this amount excludes the charge of photocopy of these documents that totals about Rs 76,250.
He, however, appealed to the SIO against the unreasonable fee. The commission after summoning the applicant as well as the PIO directed the former to personally examine the files and shortlist the information that he wanted.
Joon alleged that his application was put under wraps for about seven months on one pretext or the other. Firstly, the civil surgeon requested the SIC to give three monthsâ€™ time, citing transfer of officials as reason and then rejected the application saying that the applicant had not signed it. But after he took up the case with the SIC, the civil surgeon in his capacity as first appellate authority directed the SMO through a letter dated April 12 to provide the information to the applicant.
Civil surgeon O.P. Hooda refused to talk on the issue. Joon alleged that his wife was being harassed on account of his sustained efforts to seek information, as she was sent to a village in Mewat district on deputation. It may be mentioned that the normal charges are Rs 2 per page for the photocopy of documents while in Haryana Rs 10 per page are being charged. Moreover, as per section 7 of the RTI Act, the applicant shall be provided information free of charge where a public authority fails to comply with the time limit, i.e. one month.
The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Haryana Plus