CHANDIGARH: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has imposed the maximum penalty of Rs 25,000 on Director of Estates, Chandigarh, for providing "irrelevant" information on an RTI application.
"We have found the response irrelevant to the complaint as the issues addressed therein are not the issues on which information was sought," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said.
The Commission penalised Director of Estates, Chandigarh and Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) Uma Shankar Sharma with Rs 25,000 fine after noting that he had been unable to establish a reasonable cause for failure to respond to an application of Vinod Sharma, resident of Chandigarh.
Sharma had filed an RTI application with the Estate Office, Chandigarh on October 25 last year seeking certain information pertaining to coaching centres and schools being run in the residential area there.
On getting no response from the Estate Office within a month, the information seeker had sent a reminder to Deputy Commissioner, Chandigarh. To his reminder, he had received a letter from the CPIO assuring him of the information within 10 to 15 days.
Sharma had filed his appeal with the CIC on January two this year after he failed again to receive any response.
To a notice of the CIC, the deputy commissioner, Chandigarh informed that the information had already been supplied on March 22. But the Commission found the information to be irrelevant as it did not address to the full queries of Sharma.
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=467 border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD colSpan=3> Finally some action taken by the UT Govt. after an RTI aplication (see above) brought out irregularities.
Only IAS, PCS officers with adequate seniority to get quasi-judicial powers
</TD></TR><TR vAlign=top><TD colSpan=3 height=10></TD></TR><TR vAlign=top><TD colSpan=3>Express News Service</TD></TR><TR vAlign=top><TD colSpan=3 height=10></TD></TR><TR vAlign=top><TD colSpan=3> Chandigarh, June 2:With UT vigilance inquiry finding “administrative shirking of responsibility and lack of leadership” in the Estate Office, the Chandigarh Administration today decided that only officers of adequate seniority (IAS officers with 5 years experience and HCS/PCS officers with 10 years) would get quasi-judicial powers.The administration has admitted that certain flaws were noticed in the working and the organisation of work in the Estate Office but has apparently taken a rather lenient view by putting all the blame for the inefficient working on the lack of experience of its officers. Today’s decision effectively means that quasi-judicial powers earlier with the Assistant Estate Officer (AEO) and the Land Acquisition Officer (LAO) would be withdrawn. In their place, the administration has decided that besides the DC RK Rao, Chief Executive Officer, Chandigarh Housing Board, Amar Nath and Additional Deputy Commissioner, UT, IS Sandhu would also be empowered to discharge the quasi- judicial functions of the Estate Officer under the Act.
The vigilance inquiry was conducted on the issue of the Estate Office not restoring the concerned residential/commercial sites to the allottees in nine cases despite clear orders of the High Court or the Adviser to the Administrator. In some of the cases even the payment of requisite dues had been accepted.
Indicted in the vigilance inquiry was AEO Amit Talwar for providing wrong information under the RTI and delaying the matter concerning restoration of properties. His quasi-judicial powers including the restoration and resumption orders are now withdrawn, with the new policy of the administration today.
“It was felt that delegation of powers of Estate Officer to very junior officers having inadequate administrative experience had led to unsatisfactory disposal of work. So from now onwards lAS Officers of, atleast 5 years’ seniority or HCS/PCS Officers of at least 10 years seniority would be invested with the powers of the Estate Officer,” said the administration.
All functions other than quasi- judicial functions, would be discharged by DC-cum-Estate Officer, R.K. Rao at his level as against the existing dispensation where the decision were taken at the junior level. In addition, it is also decided that keeping in mind the backlog of Court cases in the Estate Office, their disposal will be regularly monitored.