Chandigarh, August 26
The Estate Office of the Chandigarh administration is in trouble yet again with the Central Information Commission (CIC) imposing a fine of Rs 25,000 on a kanungo for not providing requisite information to Shakuntala Sethi of Sector 28.
Shakuntala Devi in 2005 had sought information pertaining to government awards concerning property 420\433 in Mani Majra. She had sought copies of official documents. When the department did not respond even to the follow-up mail, she approached the commission.
The information officer of the estate office said the complainant had been provided with papers of the acquired land along with due compensation. Shakuntala Devi denied the claims in her letter to the commission.
At the video-conferencing session held with the CIC, information officer Uma Shanker Sharma said the case did not pertain to his branch. He said the official concerned, Sunil Kumar, had been instructed to be present at the commissionâ€™s video-conference, but had failed to comply with the orders.
Chief information commissioner W.Habibullah levied a fine of Rs 25,000 on Sunil Kumar. He is required to pay the fine in two equal installments of Rs 12,500 each.
There have been more than six cases in which the office has been fined heavy amounts for delay or failure in providing relevant information to residents. There are a large number of cases pertaining to the building branch. Hundreds of cases pertaining to various violations under the Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulations) Act, 1952, have piled up at the estate office as the administration has not distributed work among senior officers for quasi judicial functions.
Can u please tell me one thing in this case Since Kanungo didn't appear for Video-Conferencing .Though he may or may not be at fault Is it justified for CIC to take such a harsh penalty just for not appearing for a hearing . What if tomorrow Mr. Sunil Kumar comes with some medico certificed documents and showing his inability to come for a hearing. Is there any chance of roll back of Penalisation.
This case has some interesting points that have not been reported in the above new report. The RTI application was forwarded to Shri Sunil Kumar on 25.12.2007 by the CPIO of Chandigarh Estate Office, as the matter came under the Land Acquisition branch. The reply was received only on 20.07.2007, by which time the second appeal before the CIC was already filed and scheduled to be heard on 24.07.2007.
If you calculate the period of delay, it comes to about one year and seven months. Besides another important point of submission before the CIC by the appellant is that " the delay in response was deliberate in expectation of a bribe".
The penalty imposed by the CIC is not for just skipping the hearing. Under the circumstances, I do not think Shri Sunil Kumar could have provided a convincing reply to explain the delay of one year and seven months, even if he had personally attended the hearing.
The full decision can be viewed from the following link:
We often hear of the CIC/SICs impossing penalty. Has anyone is aware that the penalty impossed is executed. ? In Kerala the SIC has given me list of 17 cases where he claimed to have impossed fine of nearly Rs.1,85,000/- I statarted probing them using RTI Act.To start with I had probed all the two cases of 2006 involving fines of Rs,25,000/- and another Rs,14750/- I was surprised to see that the SIC himself had suspended the recovery much before he has intimated me in writting its imposition. In the second case it is stayed by High Court. The interesting part is that the stay appears to have obtainede on government expense. The SPIO and his AA refuse to furnish me the information as to who paid the legal expense in obtaining the stay. Kerala's plight is that a complaint on non furnishing of this information is pending with SIC, Kerla since last 4 months without at least an acknowledgement when the SIC with 4 commissioners and all infrastructures could dispose of hardly below 10 dases per month in last two months.