Lack of knowledge of the provisions of RTI act lands a PIO in the penalty zone
The appellant filed an application under RTI with the State Bank of India (SBI) Manakpur branch. He received the information with a delay of one month. The Public Information Officer (PIO) claimed that due to lack of knowledge of the provisions of RTI act, he directed the appellant to approach the senior officer at Faizabad and after he had received directions from Faizabad, action on the RTI application was taken.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the reason given by the PIO cannot be accepted as credible explanation for the delay. Under section 20(1) Where the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal is of the opinion that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees: Provided that the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard before any penalty is imposed on him: Provided further that the burden of proving that he acted reasonably and diligently shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. of the RTI Act, the Commission penalized the PIO for delay and said that an amount of Rs. 8500/- may be deducted from the salary of the PIO in two installments.
Mere promulgation of the RTI Act cannot bring about the desired transparency in the working of Public Authorities. It’s high time that some serious steps are taken for training the Government officials in the field of RTI Act, so as to achieve the objective with which the act was framed.
Citation: Mr. A.K. Singh Bisen v. SBI in Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2011/000904
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/315
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