RTI Act is an outcome of peoples' desire and government's reciprocation.The Act recognises two things . One. People have a right to seek information. Two. Government i.e. public authorities are law and duty bound furnish the required information. This being so, it is surprising that there are Public Information Officers (PIOs) who are fined for not furnishing information to the applicants. In most of the cases such a fine imposed on the PIO is to be realised from his/her salary. It is a matter of common knowledge that no public servant wants that any part of his salary should be attached for payment of fine imposed on him in connection with his/her performance as public servant. It seems necessary to know as to how and why such defaults occur. Whether the defaulting PIO has any vested interest in not furnishing the required information or whether the PIO is acting at the direct or implied behest of his superiors in the office/ organisation.

It is suggested that Government in consultation with the SIC should select five to ten cases of such defaults and go deep into these cases of non furnishing of information by the PIOs concerned. This work can be better done by a small team comprising of one representative each from the Government , the SIC and one public representative of credible knowledge and integrity. If it is found that the defaulting PIO was withholding information for some vested interest and reason then immediate and strict action should be taken against him to send a clear and strong message to PIOs in general. However if it is found that the PIO was acting under the direct or indirect influence of his superior then suitable and effective measure should be devised to ensure that such a thing does not happen in future.

Keshav Prasad

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