Only grade 1 and grade 2 officers can handle RTI queries: Gujarat government
The General Administration Department (GAD) of Gujarat has issued a notification according to which only senior level officers of Grade 1 and Grade 2 are competent to handle applications and appeals filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The notification states that the Public Information Officer (PIO) should be of the rank of under-secretary in different departments and the appellate authorities should be of the rank of either deputy secretary or joint secretary or additional secretary.
The move has been propelled by the several complaints that the department had been receiving from the public regarding the poor quality of replies from PIOs of various government departments. There were many instances of appointment of grade 3 officers as PIOs who were, many a times, accused of misinterpreting the clauses under RTI Act and in some instances fined by the state information commission.
Moreover, the Gujarat State Information Commission (SIC) had issued a circular in 2012 stating that as per the transparency act, only senior officers should be allowed to hear appeals in a government department. Pankaj Bhatt, the RTI applicant who obtained a copy of the GAD circular dated May 17, 2013, has hoped that the appointment of PIO in the departments including Sachivalaya would now be better handled.