JALANDHAR: Though after a delay of over two years the SGPC has finally established a 'set up' to provide information under RTI Act, what it has done till now appears to be a half-hearted arrangement which does not fully comply with the provisions.
While the RTI Act requires designation of a public information officer (PIO) and first appellate authority by the "public authority" in its own set up, the SGPC has only appointed an "in-charge" of the "public information office" and no official has been designated as first appellate authority.
When SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar was asked about not appointing first appellate authority in the SGPC, he held that they would act as the legal experts of SGPC would suggest.
Sources in SGPC revealed that as establishing even this set up has not been publicized by SGPC establishment apprehending that the information sought by the people may add to its headache.
Most of the officials, employees, devotees and members of the SGPC are unaware of the arrangement, sources said.
Though the arrangement was put into place around three months ago, sources revealed, due to lack of its publicity not even a dozen applications had been received till now.
Had the SGPC advertised about it, a number of applications would have been received under the Act, said a senior office-bearer of SGPC.
It may be recalled here that the issue was first raised by The Times of India in September 2006 as the 'mini parliament of Sikhs', though covered under the definition of public authority provided by the RTI Act and was required to have the set up for providing information about its working but even after around a year of promulgation of the Act in October 2005 it had not moved in the direction of putting up a mechanism to provide information under RTI Act.
The legal eagles had held that SGPC came under the purview of the Act. Sources revealed that SGPC had sought opinion of advocate general HS Mattewal, who had been counsel of the SGPC in the High Court for the last several years, and he had conveyed that it was covered under the provisions of RTI Act.
Earlier, the representative body of the Sikhs for gurdwara management had received notices from State Information Commission after it failed to give any information sought under RTI.
"We are providing information without any hitch whenever we receive any application under RTI Act," said Kulwant Singh Jundal who had been appointed incharge of the public information office.
When contacted, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said, "we have set up a department for the purpose." However when asked about not appointing first appellate authority in the SGPC, he held that they would act as the legal experts of SGPC would suggest.