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  1. #1
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    Sidharth
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    CIC suggests Centre to treat Information Officers as its men


    NEW DELHI: In an attempt to ensure "fearless" disclosure of information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has suggested to the Centre that information officers of all "public authorities" be considered as officers of the Commission.

    "Just as vigilance officers in government departments who, though working in the department, are considered also to be officials of the Central Vigilance Commission ... the PIOs (Public Information Officers) of public authorities should be considered as officers of Central Information Commission...," the CIC said in its first annual report.

    The report, recently placed in the Parliament, made the suggestion after noting that some PIOs have expressed a fear that divulging information, under the RTI, was against the wishes of their seniors and could result into adverse remarks being made in their Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs).

    "It is obvious that Public Information Officers (PIOs) have a difficult task to fulfil ... they are often caught between the wrath and reluctance of their seniors in having to part with information and the insistence of the CIC that they do their duty," the report said.

    Noting that such fears could have an adverse bearing on the effective implementation of the RTI Act, the Commission proposed that ACRs of PIOs should be written by Information Commissioners, either in the Centre or in the states, so as to enable them to work "objectively and fearlessly".

    The 2005-2006 annual report has also brought into light the Commission's frustration on being deprived of powers to ensure strict implementation of its decisions.


    Source : ET 14 Oct, 2007



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  2. #2
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    C J Karira
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    Re: CIC suggests Centre to treat Information Officers as its men


    I do not agree with this suggestion of the CIC.

    Let's forget about the RTI Act and the PIO for a moment.

    If what the CIC says about PIO's is correct than NO officer or staff of the Government will ever take any decision about anything. There will always be some senior officer or colleague who will not only be against a decision but will be unhappy about it or be adversely affected by it. Does that mean that no one will ever decide anything in the Government. Or does it mean that all decisions in the Government are currently taken with just one factor in mind......lets keep everyone happy and satisfied....Colleagues, Superior Officers and Politicians !

    Why is the SIC/CIC not using his/her/their powers under Section 20(1) and 20(2) combined with Section 5(4) and 5(5) to levy penalty, disciplinary action under service rules, etc.

    How will making the PIO an officer of the Information Commission solve any problem of being "fearless" ? The PIO will continue to be in the PA even after he demits as a PIO. He will continue with the same set of colleagues and officers till he is transferred to another PA. So where is the difference ?

    Writing of ACR by Information Commissioners is also not a practical suggestion. In many PA's where I have apllied for information under the RTI Act, the PIO has a dual role...besides being a PIO, he is also holding charge of some other post. How can the the IC write his ACR about this "other" role ? As it is there is a huge backlog in the SIC's and CIC. With the IC's also starting to write ACR's, even the ACR's will never be written.

    Just refer to: http://www.and.nic.in/rti/PIO-APIO.pdf

    For Andaman and Nicobar Islands (I am using this as an example becaue it was the first link that I got), as per the above list, there are 301 PIO's. If th IC's are going to write 301 ACR's for just A&N Islands, the IC will ONLY be writing ACR's all their lives ! Who will listen to Second Appeals ?

    Besides , can someone working in the Government explain as to how a IC sitting in Delhi, is going to write a ACR about a officer whom he has never seen nor interacted ever. What if a particualr PIO never got a RTI Application. What will the IC write in the ACR about such a PIO ?

    This suggestion is typical "giving lame duck excuses for existing problems".

    Hope it never sees the light of the day.

  3. #3
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    Re: CIC suggests Centre to treat Information Officers as its men


    Dear Mr.Karira,
    I had already read this. I have been conrolling my reaction lest it may cause annoyance. I did not appreciate it at all. There will at least be more than 10,000 PIOs in India. How can the CIC write their ACRs ? There will be doctors, engineers, scientists etc who may be acting as PIOs. Does the CIC want to decide their fate just because they did not furnish an information ignoring their primary responsibilities as doctors, engineers etc. The above plea of CIC become important in view of an SIC's recent caution to the NGOs and RTI Activist's alleging that they are misusing the RTI Act and causing harassement to officials. I just could not understand as to how an appellant's asking for an informtion can become a harassement unless of cource the information asked for if expossed is likely to expose corruption which is likely to harm the officials. I would have appreciatted if the CIC and SIC have been using provisions of Section 20(2). I find that even the CIC/SICs are scared of using this provision. We have seen the CIC's demands he has projected to the Nation during the lastCIC's confeenceon 17-10-2007. I feel pity on him.

  4. #4
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    RTI-News Confidentiality ‘no alibi’ for withholding ACR info Re: CIC suggests Centre to treat Information Officers as its men



    PLEASE NOTE
    Confidentiality ‘no alibi’ for withholding ACR info
    Rakesh Lohumi
    Tribune News Service
    Shimla, October 16
    In a significant order, the state information commission has ruled that the special reports and annual confidential reports (ACRs) cannot be withheld by the high court from the judicial officers concerned on the ground of confidentiality.

    The commission rejected the plea of the First Appellate Authority (registrar, vigilance) that such information was exempted from disclosure under Section 8 of the Right to Information Act as it would not serve any public interest. It asserted that the law was enacted in the true spirit of democratic functioning where transparency was the soul of governance and accountability and was based on the principle of maximum disclosure and minimum exemptions.
    The order was passed by state information commissioner S.S. Parmar in connection with an appeal filed by Manoj Kumar Bansal, a judicial officer functioning as administrative officer in the State Legal Services Authority.
    The commission observed the special reports were covered under the regulations framed by the high court for making promotions in the higher judiciary in a transparent, fair and responsible manner.
    The files were not private diaries of the officials where they could write anything under the guarantee of privacy. Notings were made on the bases of laws, rules, government decisions, precedents, experience and knowledge of the official. In the domain of public service, information belonged to the people and the government was only its custodian.
    He also took notice of the fact that in another case, the same appellant was not only provided special reposts pertaining to him but also of a number of other officers by the same state public information officer (SPIO), without giving notice to the third party as required under Section 11 of the Act.
    The commission had the power to decide whether the branch officer of the confidentiality branch had deliberately given misleading information to the SPIO, but without apportioning the blame it could be safely contended that the special reports dated December 4 and 5, 2006, were withheld by the public authority.
    It was neither desirable nor in consonance with the letter and spirit of the Act to withhold such information.
    Setting aside the order of the first appellate authority, the commission directed that special reports of both dates, if available, be supplied to the appellant free of cost within seven days.

  5. #5
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    Re: CIC suggests Centre to treat Information Officers as its men


    hi,
    thanks a lot for this report...

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