CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu information commission has imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000 on the public information officer of the Directorate of Medical Education for having failed to furnish certain information sought under the Right To Information Act.
The amount is the maximum penalty that could be imposed under the Act.
The PIO had chosen to ignore the directives of the Tamil Nadu information commission four times.
A MBBS aspirant from Cuddalore district C Arulapparaj had submitted an application under the RTI Act on September 8, 2007, seeking a copy of a letter written by the higher education department to the director of medical education on April 21, 2006 announcing the abolition of the plus two improvement examination scheme that year.
Arulapparaj also wanted to know if the directorate of medical education had suitably modified the prospectus for MBBS/BDS courses on the basis of the higher education department letter.
However, the PIO refused to provide the complete information to the applicant for more than three months.
Aggrieved by this, Arulapparaj filed an appeal before the Tamil Nadu information commission.
Though the information commission had directed the PIO to furnish the information on four occasions between the period December 2007 and January 2008, the latter did not oblige.
Besides, the information officer absented himself when the commission summoned him for an enquiry on March 3, 2008 and instead deputed a junior administrative officer to represent him citing official reasons.
The deputed official was unable to convincingly explain the lapse on the part of the PIO to furnish information sought by Arulapparaj.
Therefore, the information commission passed an order imposing a penalty of Rs 25,000 on the PIO and also directed the state health secretary to frame charges against the medical officer, besides initiating disciplinary action.
Observing that Arulapparaj's career was affected by the delay in furnishing information, the commission said he was at liberty to file a detailed claim for compensation.[/color]