Are the PIO and FAA sufficiently trained to deal with the RTI applications?
In response to a plea under RTI Act filed by a resident of Panchkula, Rakesh Sood, pertaining to copies of correspondence between sub-divisional officer of division 5 (operations) and the executive engineer of division 2 (operations) of UT electricity department over power lines emanating from a 11KV fire brigade feeder, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the department’s superintending engineer, MP Singh, to undergo training. MP Singh has been designated as the first appellate authority by the public authority under the RTI Act.
When the PIO informed the applicant that the information could not be provided due to non-availability of his specific address, Sood submitted his address to the first appellate authority (FAA). The FAA, M P Singh, denied information on the ground of it being voluminous and also pertaining to a ‘third party’. The CIC also took notice of disposal of four similar RTI applications by the FAA through a common order on an earlier occasion. The CIC stated that the denial of information was "reflective of complete lack of application of mind or sense of responsibility by FAA, who is warned to discharge the responsibilities ascribed to him under the RTI Act henceforth".
Under the RTI Act, the CIC has the power of enhancing the provision of training for its officials. Section 19(8)(a)(v) of the RTI Act says that In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to require the public authority to take any such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of this Act, including by enhancing the provision of training on the right to information for its officials.