Info officer told to read RTI Act
Recently, a tehsildar at Andheri refused to give information sought under the RTI Act on the grounds that the applicant had not mentioned whether he “fell below the poverty line or not’’. Aghast as RTI rules do not permit refusing information on such frivolous grounds, State Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Suresh Joshi pulled up Public Information Officer Manisha Ghevande, a class-I gazetted officer and asked her to read the RTI Act before passing any orders. Joshi also directed suburban Collector Vishwas Patil to ensure PIOs do not repeat such mistakes in the future.
The CIC passed the above order on a complaint made by a Bandra-based architect Aditya Wagle against Ghevande for giving a misleading reply to an application seeking information on a sale agreement. In response to Wagle’s application, Ghevande rejected the application saying, “You have not stated in your application whether you are below poverty line or not.’’
Wagle then decided to complain to the CIC. He said that the PIO was deliberately denying him information on a false pretext because the very fact that court fee stamps of Rs10 were affixed on the application proves beyond doubt that he was not below poverty line. “Further, not stating whether I am below poverty line or not is in itself adequate to establish that I am not claiming to be below poverty line,’’ said Wagle in his complaint.
Said Kewal Semlani, well-known RTI activist who drafted Wagle’s complaint to CIC, “This is a matter of serious concern that the tehsildar is so ignorant of the provisions of the RTI Act-2005 & MRTI Rules-2005 .”