Penalty proceedings initiated against 2 more BDOs, Tehsildar under RTI Act

No end to denial of info about expenditure on developmental works
SIC asks DC for enquiry into tampering of revenue records

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Jan 14: As there is no end to the denial of information about expenditure on developmental works and showing disregard to the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, penalty proceedings have been initiated against two more Block Development Officers (BDOs) and one Tehsildar by the State Information Commission.
Moreover, the Commission has asked the Deputy Commissioner Jammu to hold an enquiry into the tampering of revenue records to dispossess a poor person of his inherited property and furnish the action take report in a time bound manner.
As per the case before the State Information Commission, one Mangal Dass had approached the Tehsildar Mandal (Public Information Officer) with a formal application seeking to know as to why and under what circumstances the Girdawari in respect of Khasra No.383/272 was changed in Rabi 2013 from Mangal Dass to Chaman Lal and what action has been taken by the Tehsildar on the complaint of the appellant.
In the complaint the appellant had alleged fraudulent change of revenue entry by the concerned officials of the Revenue Department in connivance with one Chaman Lal and had sought the status of the representation for correction of the records.
As the information was denied by the PIO as well as First Appellate Authority, the appellant knocked the doors of the State Information Commission with second appeal and the Commission vide interim order dated December 21, 2018 directed the Tehsildar Mandal to inform the Commission as well as appellant as to why and under what circumstances the relevant entry in the Girdawari has been changed. However, no information was furnished by the Tehsildar either to the appellant or to the Commission.
“The non-response on the part of the Tehsildar indicates that the allegations levelled by the appellant have some substance. The non-cooperation of the Tehsildar Mandal raises a presumption that he is hiding something or protecting somebody in this matter”, the State Information Commissioner observed, adding “it is a serious issue that appellant, a poor man, has been fraudulently dispossessed of his inherited property”.
The Information Commissioner Mohammad Ashraf Mir said, ,”by choosing not to appear before the Commission and by denying information the Tehsildar has shown utter disregard for the provisions of the J&K RTI Act and the orders issued by the Commission”, adding “the contravention of the provisions of the Act has made the PIO liable for imposition of penalties under Section 17 of the Act”.
Accordingly, the Commission has directed the Registry to issue a show cause notice to the Tehsildar Mandal Babu Ram Choudhary asking him to explain as to why penalties shall not be imposed upon him for denying information to the appellant within the period specified under transparency law.
The Commission has also asked the Deputy Commissioner Jammu to hold an enquiry into the issue so as to find out as to why and under what circumstances the revenue record was changed and how the rightful owner of the land has been dispossessed from his inherited property.
“The Commission shall be informed about the outcome of the enquiry and action taken pursuant to such enquiry”, the State Information Commissioner has mentioned in the order.
Moreover, the Commission has initiated penalty proceedings against Block Development Officer (BDO) Mahore Khadam Hussain for not furnishing information vis-a-vis works executed in Block Mahore, details of payment made to labour, details of cement used for execution of works etc despite direction from the First Appellate Authority and the Commission.
“By not appearing before the Commission for attending the hearings and also by not complying with the directions issued by the Commission for furnishing information to the appellant, the BDO Mahore (PIO) has violated the provisions of the RTI Act and shown utter disregard to the Commission”, the Information Commissioner said in the order.
The Commission has directed the Registry to issue show cause notice to the BDO Mahore for filing a written reply within a period of 15 days explaining as to why penalties shall not be imposed on him.
Similar proceedings have also been initiated against the then Block Development Officer Chenani Dr Shavi (presently Assistant Director Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department) Jammu for delaying information by more than six months, which amounts to denying the information and for charging unreasonable fee from the applicant.
The applicant had sought information about works executed and expenditure incurred under different schemes including MGNREGA, IAY and other works.
It is pertinent to mention here that few days back State Information Commission had initiated penalty proceedings against one Assistant Commissioner Development and three Block Development Officers.


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