During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC) the representative of the appellant explained that none of the public authorities had complied with the provisions of section 4(1) entirely and had made only lip service wherever any such disclosure was made. The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that of the three public authorities, two are Gram Panchayats which has only one fulltime Secretary each and no other staff. The CIC took a view that the Panchayats do not have access to internet services all over the Island and may not be in a position to disclose any information in any website which is not the case for any office located in Port Blair. The Commission held that the implementation of the provisions of section 4 is the responsibility of each public authority. In a small Union Territory like the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the initiative for this must come from the top and it is for the Chief Secretary to issue directives to all the public authorities functioning under the Administration to comply with this provision.
The Commission directed that keeping the instructions issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in view, the Andaman and Nicobar Administration can ensure that every public authority comes out with a detailed disclosure of all the information as required under these provisions within a fixed time limit. The Commission held that it would be enough for a Gram Panchayat to publish, even on its notice board, the lists of schemes it has implemented, the names and other details of the beneficiaries of the schemes, the amount of grant/ subsidy/ concession/ scholarship/ stipend/ pension that it disburses every month, the details of the persons below poverty line and so on.
The public authorities having access to internet must publish all such data in their respective website. All the historic data held by them such as circulars, guidelines, instructions and office memoranda can be scanned and uploaded. The directory of officers and employees and the monthly salary paid to them can be directly uploaded at least once in a year by accessing such data from the Pay and Accounts Office. The list of schemes implemented under every department/public authority can simultaneously be disclosed by scanning the details of the scheme and uploading those in the website. The exercise is not very complicated and can be completed easily only if some senior official in the public authority is made responsible personally.
The CIC expressed the hope and expected that the Chief Secretary of the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands would initiate a drive and complete this exercise in a period of two months which would be reviewed on 1 June 2013 to find out the extent of compliance. The CIC also directed that in future, the public authorities can revise the data once every year and make it up to date.
Citation: Mr. P S Saboo v. Andaman and Nicobar Administration O/o. the Pradhan Gram Panchayat in File No.CIC/SM/A/2012/001632, 1633 & 1840