Ignoring RTI applications can cost government officers dear

Just how effective is the Central Information Commission of India in handling the appeals under the Right to Information Act, 2005?

Some insight was available from the reply given to a question in Parliament (Lok Sabha).

It turns out that in 211 cases, Information Officers were actually subjected to fine, and seven such financial penalties were withdrawn after they were imposed.

Although the Parliament reply does not state the fact, the CIC rules allow the penalty amount to be deducted from the salary of a Public Information Officer and remitted to the treasury directly.

This should send out a signal to recalcitrant Information Officers in Tamil Nadu — and there are many here — and elsewhere. Sadly, this aspect is not reported widely by the popular media.

The following is the answer in the Lok Sabha reported by Press Information Bureau:

Lok Sabha

Since its inception, the Central Information Commission has received 24145 complaints and appeals upto 30.09.2008. 8670 cases were pending for disposal as on 30.09.2008 for reasons like shortage of Information Commissioners vis-à-vis the workload.

All cases of appeals and complaints to the Commission involve delay or denial of information. Information about number of show cause notices issued for imposition of penalties is not maintained. Penalties have, however, been imposed in 211 cases.In seven cases financial penalty was withdrawn after imposition.

Government has recently appointed four more Information Commissioners in the Commission with a view to step up the disposal of cases as well as for effective implementation of RTI Act.

This information was given by the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Shri Prithviraj Chavan in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

The Times of India reports from Patna that two PIOs were asked to pay heavy fines, recently.

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