CIC seeks explanation from BDO, Dy Secy, DM for delay in providing info under RTI Act

Block Officer cautioned against casual approach towards law

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Jan 29: Central Information Commission has sought explanation from Block Development Officer (BDO), Deputy Secretary and Divisional Manager (DM) of the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for delay in furnishing information sought under the Right to Information Act. Moreover, the Commission has cautioned the Block Officer of the Rural Development Department against casual approach towards implementation of transparency law.
As per the Second Appeal before the Commission, an application under RTI Act was filed on October 16, 2022 before Block Development Officer, Changa Gandoh in Doda district seeking information about beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Grameen, list of venders registered on MGNREGA and list of works completed in the area etc.
Having not received a response from the CPIO, the appellant filed a First Appeal dated 28.12.2020 which was not adjudicated by the First Appellate Authority and aggrieved and dissatisfied, the appellant approached the Commission with the Second Appeal.
After examining the facts of the case, Chief Information Commissioner Y K Sinha observed, “though respondent claimed to have furnished the information sought by the appellant yet no documents have been submitted before the Commission”, adding “in the absence of the relevant documents, the Commission is unable to accept the contention or check the veracity of the same”.
Accordingly, the Commission has directed the respondent to submit documents before the Commission, which were claimed to have been sent to the appellant. In addition, the Registry has been directed to seek explanation from Amir Ashraf, BDO, Bhalesa for violation of the Act, justifying the delay in furnishing response to the appellant and why no penal action should be initiated for violation of the mandated timeline as provided under the Act.
“The explanation must reach the Commission by 28.02.2023 failing which appropriate action shall be initiated suo motu, in terms of law”, read the order of the Commission, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR.
Similarly, an RTI application was filed on 01.09.2021 seeking information on immovable properties and bank account numbers of Jammu and Kashmir Agri-Industries Development Corporation Limited as on 31.08.2021. However, neither there was any response from the CPIO nor the First Appeal was adjudicated as such the appellant knocked the doors of the Central Information Commission with Second Appeal.
After hearing both the sides, the Commission observed, “no documents exist on record which show that information was provided to the appellant as such the instant matter is a fit case to issue a show cause notice to Ashfaq Salaria, DM to explain as to why penal action should not be initiated against him for the violations of the RTI Act, 2005”.
He has further been directed to forward to the appellant and the Commission, the copies of the replies provided to the appellant as on date. “The directions should be complied with by 15.02.2023, failing which penal action as per law will be taken”, read the order.
While dealing with another Second Appeal against the Animal and Sheep Husbandary Department, the Chief Information Commissioner observed, “though some information had been provided by the PIO/Animal/Sheep Husbandry & Fisheries Department yet the appellant was not satisfied with the same”, adding “the FAA took cognizance of this while adjudicating the First Appeal and had passed specific directions”.
“The PIO claimed that the FAA’s order had been complied and also undertook to submit documents substantiating his contention. However, despite passage of reasonable amount of time the PIO/Animal/Sheep Husbandry & Fisheries Department has not bothered to submit the letter dated 30.06.2021, which he claimed had been sent to the appellant in compliance of the FAA’s order”, the Commission observed.
Taking an adverse note of the conduct of the PIO/Animal/ Sheep Husbandry & Fisheries Department -Nissar Ahmad Wani, Deputy Secretary, the Commission has directed him to submit a suitable explanation for not submitting the letter dated 30.06.2021 which he claimed had been sent, in compliance with the order passed by the FAA on 28.06.2021 and why no penal action should be initiated for the violation on his part.
“The explanation must reach the Commission by 15.02.2023, failing which appropriate action shall be initiated suo motu, in terms of law”, read the order.
Further, the Commission has cautioned BDO, Balakote for casual approach towards the implementation of RTI Act and directed him to act strictly within the precincts of the RTI Act and observe the timelines very stringently, in future.