CHANDIGARH: Don't sit on information. That is the message the State Information Commission has sent out loud and clear, especially to senior Officers in the government. For the first time an IAS officer — KBS Sidhu who is secretary, medical education and research, Punjab — has been penalised for not providing information under the Right to Information Act.
Sidhu will now have to pay about Rs 22,000, which will be deducted from his salary, for holding back information about electro-homeopathy that a Ludhiana resident had sought.
Kuldeep Singh Khaira, an electro-homeopathy doctor, had approached the Punjab health department in a bid to know answers to questions which changed the course of his professional life. Khaira had spent over four years studying in an electro-homeopathy college. However, after completing graduation he found out that he could not practice as the government had issued a notification banning the practice since the field is not acknowledged as a medical science.
"I wanted to know under what laws students are being given degrees in colleges for a practice which is banned by the government," said Khaira, who has now been compelled to join his father's business of selling milk and dairy products. "I was lucky that I had something to fall back upon, but there are thousands of other students who are studying hard but are unaware of a bleak future," he added.
There are over 1,000 students across the state who are studying in over 65 electro-homeopathy colleges in the state.
The central government had given instructions to all state and UT governments not to allow electro-homeopathy colleges to be run and dole out diplomas and degrees for a practice which now amounts to quackery. Khaira had sought action-taken report from the health secretary, director health services, as to what had been done till date to shut the colleges.
In its order, the commission took a serious view of the health department's apathetic approach in dealing with the application. It took 14 months for the department to come to the conclusion that the application in question was not traceable. "Least what we can say is that the attitude of the officials of health department and medical education and research department.
RTI axe on IAS officer's salary As Reported By Priya Yadav, TNN, 15 Jan 2008
CHANDIGARH: In the first instance of its kind the salary of an IAS officer, the secretary health and family welfare, Punjab, KBS Sidhu, has been cut as a penalty for providing inadequate information to a complainant under the Right to Information Act. While Rs 12,500 has been cut from his January's salary another Rs 10,000 is scheduled to be deducted from the next month's salary.
Sidhu is unhappy with the development. Talking to The Times of India, he said, "This is high-handedness on part of the commission. I will appeal against it in the high court." Sidhu is claiming that he has been wrongly penalized as the matter does not pertain to his department at all but relates to the secretary research and medical education.
The development has underlined one thing boldly that babus must clear the air over applications filed under the Right to Information Act if they have been made a party and summoned by the State Information Commission.
Sidhu was told to pay about Rs 22,000 for holding back information sought by a Ludhiana resident regarding electro-homoeopathy. A former electro-homeopathy practitioner, Kuldeep Singh Khaira, had approached the health department in a bid to know answers to questions which changed the course of his professional life.