M K Gupta
Jt. Secy. cum Media Adviser, Dwarka Forum
Central and State Information Commissions have been constituted to exercise the powers conferred on and to perform the functions assigned to it under the RTI Act. (Sec.12). It is the duty of the Commissions to receive and inquire into a complaint. (Sec.18). Justice Ravindra Bhat of Delhi High Court in the case of Majibur Rehman said that if the CIC has failed to exercise jurisdiction vested in it, the High Court would be justified to interfere with its order. Section 20 of RTI Act states that in case of breach of RTI Act, Information Commissions ‘shall’ impose penalty but of late, Commissions have converted this ‘SHALL’ as ‘MAY’ that gives discretion to the Commissions in the matter of imposing penalty.
Central Information Commission is required to register a case if the same is found in order in its scrutiny but there are exceptions to this. CIC has informed that some of the cases filed by me were registered only on the date of reply of his RTI application which was filed to know the status of appeals and complaints filed by him. This has been informed by Shri M. C. Sharma, CPIO, Central Information Commissioner. These cases were filed months back and now the appellant wonders that if he has not filed the RTI application, these cases may not have been registered so far.
Earlier also, the case No. CIC/LS/C/2010/000071 heard by Shri M. L. Sharma, Information Commissioner against the Delhi Development Authority was listed only after applicant filed RTI to know its status. This was heard on 26th April, 10 though the appeal was sent on 12.6.09.
CIC-ORDERS TAKE 28 AND 25 DAYS IN REACHING DISPATCH SECTION
An adjunct order (additional order) dated 25.5.2010 in the case No. CIC/AD/A/2009/000446 by Mrs. Annapurna Dixit, Central Information Commissioner was dispatched after 28 days on 22nd June. “There is no record which mentions when it was send (sic sent) to Despatch Section”. This was informed by Shri G. Subramanian to Mr. Gupta. He asked for this information by filing an RTI application on 10th July to clear his misgivings if the order was back-dated. He requested to inform the date of handing over the order to dispatch section of CIC in his case against the News Services Division, All India Radio, New Delhi.
Another adjunct order dated 28th May, 2010 in the case No. CIC/AD/A/2010/000144 by Mrs. Annapurna Dixit, Hon’ble Information Commissioner has reached the dispatch Section of the Commission after 25 days on 23rd June. This has been informed by Shri G. Subramanian, Under Secretary and Dy. Registrar, CIC. In this adjunct order, IC has directed the CPIO, NSD, All India Radio, inter-alia, either to provide the available information or to furnish a duly notarized affidavit of explaining the exact cause of inability in tracing the required information. He asked for this information by filing an RTI application on 10th July to clear his misgivings if the order was back-dated. On 19th June which was delivered on 21st June, Mr Gupta prayed the Information Commissioner to know about the status of final orders in this case by filing an RTI application.
REGISTRAR FORGETS FOLLOW UP ACTION ON SHOW CAUSE NOTICE
Though, as per Management Regulation, under Sub-section (xv) of Section 4, the Registrar is responsible for ensuring compliance of the orders, directions or decisions passed by the Commission and to take all necessary steps in this regards. Information Commissioner, Ms. Annapurna Dixit has issued show cause notice on 27th April, 2009 to the PIO, NSD, AIR to reply why a penalty of Rs. 250/- per day should not be imposed within 15 days. The Dy. Registrar took no action on the non-submission of the reply and I have to file three RTI applications in July, Oct 09 and January 10 to know about the status of compliance of the decision. The Dy. Registrar is on deputation from the same Public Authority to CIC. “In the interest of justice”, Hon’ble Information Commissioner has granted three extensions to the PIO to furnish the reply, without any request from the PIO for the same. After issuing the notice of show cause, it appears that the CIC forgets it and there is no monitoring to ensure compliance of orders. Finally, Commission decided to condone the delay and drops the penalty proceedings.
CIC FAILS TO GIVE CUT OFF DATE FOR HEARING
On a query about on the cut-off date for which notices of hearing have been issued, the reply dated 23.7.10 of CPIO, CIC is vague as it is curtly and merely says ‘No’. CPIO has only informed that “appeals/complaints are taken up for hearing on first come first serve basis”.