Chandigarh, October 16 The State Information Commission has directed the Punjab government to implement all the provisions of the Right to Information Act within two months.

A few days back, Rajan Kashyap, Chief Information Commissioner, Punjab, and Information Commissioner Lt Gen PK Grover (retd), acting on a complaint of Hitender Jain of Resurgence India, observed, “Taking a holistic view, we observe that the public authorities and the public information officers have not, as yet, taken action mandated under the Act for providing complete information to the public. We observe that suo motu disclosure, as required under Section 4(1)(b), should have been completed by October 12, 2005. That it has not been done even two years after the stipulated date is a matter of concern.”

“The 12,000-odd panchayats in the state and other public authorities concerned merely need to place in the panchayat ghars simple information such as the names of PIOs and their addresses. This would not require more than a couple of hours. What is clearly lacking within the state government and other public authorities is the seriousness in implementation of the provisions of the Act. If all this information is available on the government’s website, in addition to the hard copies with the public authorities concerned, it will help the public. It will also simplify the task of the PIOs of all these authorities when the information is demanded,” the directions said.

“We suggest that the Chief Secretary, Punjab, should personally direct all the administrative departments in the state to complete the tasks in a time-bound manner,” the directions added.

“The Chief Secretary should ensure basic compliance through directions to all administrative secretaries, who themselves are responsible for implementation of the Act by the various public authorities. We would like the state government, through the Chief Secretary, to submit a time-bound plan of action for the removal of deficiencies. A period of two months is granted to the Chief Secretary for submitting a compliance report,” said the directions.

The next date of hearing has been fixed for December 12. They stated, “After considering all aspects of the matter, especially the deficiencies in respect of action taken by the public authorities regarding the mandate of RTI Act, 2005, we observe that there has indeed been a failure on the part of hundreds of authorities in complying with the provisions of the Act.” According to the complainant, 60 categories of public authorities have not met their obligations to maintain the records systematically and in computerised form and publish complete information about their organisation.

Fifty categories of public authorities have not provided details of information related to addresses and telephone numbers of PIO and 31 public authorities have not appointed appellate authorities, said the directions.

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