Erstwhile SIC’s interim order remains unimplemented since July 2019
*CIC expresses displeasure, seeks explanation from PIO
JAMMU, June 30: The General Administration Department (GAD) of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is reluctant to furnish details of the TA/DA drawn by the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers and non-compliance of the order passed by the erstwhile State Information Commission (SIC) in this regard has invited sharp criticism from the Central Information Commission, which has now sought explanation besides issuing directions for providing revised reply.
Vide application filed under Right to Information Act dated November 24, 2018, the applicant sought information from the PIO of the General Administration Department regarding the travel expense (air/land) barred by the Government on the travel of the IAS/KAS (now JKAS) officers from Srinagar to Jammu during the Annual Darbar Move.
Though the PIO replied that expenditure to the tune of Rs 195530 was incurred on travel expense yet the applicant expressed dissatisfaction over the response and accordingly filed First Appeal dated December 26, 2018. However, the First Appellate Authority vide order dated February 1, 2019 upheld the reply of the PIO.
As incomplete information was provided to the applicant, the Second Appeal was filed before the then State Information Commission, which vide its interim order dated July 30, 2019 observed: “During the arguments, the PIO submitted that the RTI application seeking details of TA/DA drawn by IAS/KAS officers was not specific”. After the arguments in the appeal, the Commission directed the PIO to provide details of TA/DA drawn by the IAS officers who were in the moving offices for the last three years to the appellant within a period of two weeks—by August 15, 2019″.
As the order of the erstwhile State Information Commission remained unimplemented, the appellant knocked the doors of the Central Information Commission in the light of the fact that J&K State Information Commission was abolished after reorganization of the then State. During the course of hearing, the respondent submitted that the information sought by the appellant pertains to travel expenses of IAS officers during the Darbar move. He further stated that information has to be collected from 43 different departments and hence sought some time to do the same.
Upon examination of the facts of the case, the Chief Information Commissioner Y K Sinha observed, “it is evident that till date respondent has not complied with the interim order dated July 30, 2019 passed by the J&K State Information Commission”, adding “thus non-compliance of the specific directions of the State Information Commission has resulted in a deliberate obstruction to the flow of information thereby violating the provisions of the RTI Act”.
“Hence, the concerned PIO-Kumar G Raina of the General Administration Department is directed to submit a cogent explanation justifying the non-compliance of the directions issued by the J&K State Information Commission by causing willful obstruction in the dissemination of information and also why no penal action should be initiated for such blatant violation of the provisions of the RTI Act”, read the order of the Central Information Commission, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR.
The Commission has made it clear that explanation must reach the Commission by July 31, 2022 failing which suo moto action shall be initiated as per law on the basis of records available with the Commission.
Moreover, the Central Information Commission has directed the respondent to provide a revised reply to the appellant complying with the order dated July 30, 2019 passed by the J&K State Information Commission within three weeks of receipt of this order.
“The respondent shall submit a compliance report before the Commission in this regard with necessary proof of service by July 15, 2022 failing which appropriate action shall be initiated as per the law and on the basis of available record”, the order further read. With these directions, the Central Information Commission has disposed off the Second Appeal.