Although India’s Right to Information Act, 2005, a landmark people-empowering law prescribes penalties when Government officials refuse to part with information or provide irrelevant, incomplete and meaningless replies, the penalty provision is not much heard of.
Today, the Central Information Commission has ordered the Central Public Works Department to pay a fine, for its recalcitrant stance. Here is the news report from a news agency.
CPWD to pay Rs 1,500 fine for delay in RTI reply
New Delhi, July 29: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has imposed a fine of Rs 1,500 on the Central
Public Works Department (CPWD) for delay in providing details to a former employee on his retirement benefits. “There is little doubt that appellant N K Sharma has been put to considerable inconvenience and delay in pursuing his grievance redress by the late supply of information,” Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said while ordering the CPWD to pay Rs 1,500 to the petitioner.
The Commission passed the order on a petition filed by Sharma, who is a retired superintendent of the CPWD, seeking information pertaining to delay in his retirement benefits.
It noted that the appellate authority, ADG Anil Kumar, had furnished complete information to Sharma but not within the stipulated time period.
Having perused the documents, the CIC found that the order of the appellate authority was overdue by two months.The transparency panel further said the plea filed by the petitioner before it was a complaint for grievance redressel rather than for information.
While dismissing his appeal, Habibullah said that Sharma can approach the Central Administrative Tribunal for seeking relief.
Earlier, Sharma contended that his retirement benefits were intentionally delayed by the department. He alleged by the appellate authority had not given on time the information which could have proved the delay.
The CPIO, however, denied any delay on his part and refuted any allegation relating to any prejudice shown
It is important to determine whether these penalties are indeed realised. The evidence from the States indicates that they are not being paid by those convicted of disobeying this law. And there is no machinery to enforce it.
The least that could be done is for the media to expose the failure of the penalty mechanism, in the States and possibly at the Centre.
There could also be some method of immediately updating the CIC and State Information Commission databases when this sort of order is passed, calling upon officials to pay a penalty.