Fatehgarh Sahib,September 15
The State Information Commission (SIC), constituted to check the violation of the Right to Information Act (RTI) by government officials and to penalise erring bureaucrats, has itself been accused of shielding officers who have failed to provide information under the law.
G.S. Swadeshi, a retired government official, has alleged that the commission, instead of penalising the officials of the Sirhindi-Fatehgarh Sahib municipal council who had withheld the information sought by him, had refused to take action against them.
Swadeshi stated that the council took over four years to approve the building plans of the house that he wanted to construct.
Disheartened by the unprecedented delay, he sought information from the council under the RTI asking them to explain the delay in approving the building plans.
He said in spite of repeated attempts, the council did not provide information for at least five months and even the answers that were finally given were unsatisfactory.
He decided to approach the SIC seeking action against the council officials who allegedly withheld the information.
“Though the information I asked for was to be provided within the stipulated 30-day period, the council took five months in violation of the RTI,” he said.
After holding several hearings into the case, the SIC refused to penalise the council officials on grounds that the complainant was not present for the last hearing and it was presumed that he was satisfied with the information provided to him.
Swadeshi, however, claimed that he could not attend the hearing due to some exigency and in spite of having informed the SIC in advance, this was not taken into account by the commission.
While he asked the commission to reconsider its decision, the SIC asked him to file a fresh petition in this regard.
The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Chandigarh Stories