The Central Information Commission has asked the Haj Committee of India (HCI) to appoint a public information officer under the RTI Act, saying the post should not remain vacant even for a day. Information Commissioner O P Kejariwal expressed his displeasure over Assistant HCI instead of appellate authority, representing the body established under the Haj Committee Act 2002 for making arrangements for the pilgrimage in a hearing before the Commission.
"The Commission takes serious objection to this attitude of the appellate authority.... The Chief of the organisation is also directed to appoint a proper PIO as soon as possible. In fact, the post of the PIO should not remain vacant even for a day," Kejariwal said. The CIC's direction came, while hearing an RTI appeal of Jaipur-based Quomi Welfare Society secretary Shakilur Rehman, who had sought information relating to refund of amount to pilgrims belonging to Tonk district in Rajasthan. During the hearing on the matter, the CIC noted that instead of the appellate authority, an assistant Shaikh Mohammed Ghouse had represented the HCI, prompting it to adjourn the case for May 16.
"The Commission would like to send a warning to the appellate authority that in case he is not present at the hearing without a valid reason, he will be liable for penal action," Kejariwal said. Ghouse submitted that the earlier PIO was indisposed and a new officer was yet to be appointed in the organisation. He submitted an authorisation letter from the appellate authority before the CIC stating that HCI would ratify his deposition.