Share data sermon to govt officers As reported by SANJEEV KUMAR VERMA in the TELEGRAPH
Patna, Oct. 6: Not just the public information officers, any government official can face music for not providing information sought by an applicant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Chief information commissioner of Bihar Ashok Kumar Choudhary. Telegraph picture
Executive engineer of Patna Municipal Corporation’s new capital division (north) Kameshwar Prasad Singh today became the first such official in Bihar.
The chief information commissioner of the state, Ashok Kumar Choudhary, penalised him for not co-operating with the Patna Municipal Corporation chief engineer in providing information to Mahendra Prasad Gupta, sought under the RTI Act.
Choudhary observed in his judgment that Singh’s action was a fit case for imposing fine in accordance with the provisions of the act.
He imposed a penalty of Rs 250 per day, subject to a maximum of Rs 25,000, on Singh.
The chief information commissioner has directed the Patna Municipal Corporation commissioner to deduct Rs 2,000 per month from Singh’s salary for the first 12 months and Rs 1,000 for the 13th month.
The deducted sum will be deposited under the funds earmarked for the penalty imposed under RTI.
Choudhary has recommended the Patna Municipal Corporation commissioner to put the erring executive engineer under suspension and initiate departmental action.
The chief information commissioner, in the concluding part of the judgment, has asked the Patna Municipal Corporation commissioner to provide information to the petitioner. He has also been asked to send a report to the commission.
The case dates back to August 2009 when Gupta had sought information from the public information officers of the Patna Municipal Corporation about the steps taken to meet the underground drain repair demand of the residents.
The state information panel in November 2009 directed the public information officer to provide data to the applicant latest by December 8, 2009. The commission set May 20, 2010 as the next date of hearing of the case.
On May 20 this year, the public information officer said he had provided partial information to the petitioner, Gupta.
The rest of the information had been sought from the chief engineer of the Patna Municipal Corporation.
On the next date of hearing (August 4, 2010), the chief engineer informed the commission that the information was available with the executive engineer.
The chief engineer had written to the executive engineer requesting him to provide the necessary information in June 2010 itself.
After getting the order of the state information commission on August 4, he wrote to the Patna Municipal Corporation commissioner informing him that he contacted the executive engineer as directed by the commission several times but the executive engineer did not co-operate with him.
He requested the Patna Municipal Corporation commissioner to direct the executive engineer to provide information to the petitioner.
The copy of the letter was also sent to the state information commission. Pulling up the executive engineer for his act, the chief information commissioner observed that right to information was a fundamental right and it was the duty of the public authorities to provide information to petitioners.
The institution of public information officer and assistant public information officer were created to ease the burden of the public authority and also to ensure uninterrupted flow of information to the citizens who seek information under the act, Choudhary said.
“It does not, however, mean that if the public information officer or deemed public information officer refuses to provide information, the citizen will not get the information,” he added.