Chandigarh, June 01 Are the offices under the Chandigarh Administration following the four Acts mandatory for government offices? Replies obtained with the help of the Right to Information Act revealed a scene of confusion across as many as 80 departments.
The Acts in question are Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure, Public Records Act and Rules, Right to Information Act and Destruction of Records Act, compliance to which, legal experts say, are a must.
On seeking information as to why “the departments/offices under UT Administration are not following the four mandatory Acts”, the replies received were found to be varied and often contradictory.
The Municipal Corporation’s various divisions — Road Division 1, 2; Horticulture Division; Electrical division and Fire and Emergency Services - said: “There is no such decision in their department to follow any of such Acts”.
A few other departments claimed they are “not even required to follow the said manual, Acts and rules, Orders or any other guidelines”.
The reply from the Office of Sub-Registrar, UT, was: “This office is not required to follow the said manual, Acts and rules, orders and guidelines.”
But the House Allotment Committee categorically said: “There is no occasion, when guidelines/ directions/orders are not adhered to as envisaged in the Manual, Act and Rules, Right to Information Act or Destruction of Records Act”.
The office of UT Deputy Commissioner altogether refused to answer the queries, saying it does not come under the RTI Act.
The Central Public Information Officer (Estate Office), in contrast, readily came up with an answer - which was: “There is no occasion when they are not following the rules/ guidelines/ directions under the Acts.”
Even the Chandigarh Housing Board claimed they were following the relevant provisions/ guidelines of the four Acts.
Incidentally, the head of both departments — Office of Sub-Registrar and Estate Office is the same - the UT Deputy Commissioner.
Other departments like as Director Public Instructions (Schools) and Regional Employment Exchange etc, replied: “No such decision has been taken by this department for not following these instructions. However, it is made clear that as Chandigarh Administration follows Punjab, any instruction as applicable in the State of Punjab are applicable in UT, Chandigarh.”
On its part, the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation Limited (CITCO), went to the extent of citing half a dozen cases for not answering the queries put under the RTI Act.
So what, finally, is the Administration’s official position?
A spokesperson said: “There should be uniformity among all UT Administration departments. Every department must follow a set procedure, prescribed under the relevant provisions of the Acts, guidelines or Rules. Destruction of Records Act has to be followed by every department, in accordance with the provisions under the Act.”
Public Records Act-1993
It provides for proper management of all public records, proper archiving, record management and transfer of all records to the national archive after a period of 30 years. Sources said the administration has ignored the Act and till date never bothered to transfer the records to the archive.
Provision of Section 4(1) (a): Every public authority shall maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and form that facilitates the right to information under the Act.
Section 4(2): It shall be a constant endeavour of every public authority to take steps in accordance with the requirements of clause (b) of sub-section (1) to provide as much information to the public through various means of communications.
Section 4(3): Every information shall be disseminated widely and in such form and manner which is easily accessible to the public.