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CIC Shailesh Gandhi To MCD’s PIO: Why Harass RTI Applicant By Calling Him For Inspection, If You Can Put It Up On Notice Boards?

15 April 2012 No Comment

Shailesh Gandhi

This should bring a cheer to all the RTI Activists , If an information is supposed to be declared suo moto by putting it up on notice boards, why are you harassing applicants by calling them to take inspection? This was the reprimand that CIC Shailesh Gandhi issued to the public Information officer of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in his order issued on Thursday. (Order is attached.)

Upbraiding the public authority for subjecting common people like appellant Joginder Dhaiya to hardships, the Central Information Commissioner remarked, “The information which has been sought by the Appellant was provided in one page and the Respondent agrees that this was information which was to be displayed suo-moto on the boards. The Commission also notes that despite the delay the PIO did not provide the details of the works.”
Noting that the appellant had also been threatened and roughed up on some occasions, Shailesh Gandhi ordered, “The Commission advises the Station House Officer of the Narela Police Station to take cognizance of this complaint with seriousness and after assessing the matter take appropriate actions if necessary. The Commission takes matters of threats to RTI users very seriously and will ensure that the state offers protection to RTI users and ensures that those who harass or intimidate them will have to pay the consequences.”
The Commissioner directed the PIO Mr Rajesh Khanna to ensure that a cheque of Rs.3000/- as compensation was sent to the Appellant before 01 June 2012. He further issued a show-cause notice to the PIO and Assistant PIO as to why penalty should not be levied on them.
Shailesh Gandhi is setting the bar very high for Central Information  Commission itself, in terms of its owm compliance with the Right to Information Act.
In Decision No. CIC/SM/A/2011/000610/SG/18357, CIC Shailesh Gandhi ordered Central Information Commission itself to give a compensation of Rs 3000  to the appellant for the harassment caused to him. The PIO was pulled up for misusing Section 11 (“information relating to third party”) to reject the appellant’s request for information without even calling the third party for their say in the matter. The Public Information Officer, Mr M C Sharma, was pulled up for not supplyng complete information to the appellant.
SG’s remarks: “Harassment of a common man by public authorities is socially abhorring and legally impermissible. It may harm him personally but the injury to society is far more grievous. Crime and corruption thrive and prosper in the society due to lack of public resistance. Nothing is more damaging than the feeling of helplessness. An ordinary citizen instead of complaining and fighting succumbs to the pressure of undesirable functioning in offices instead of standing against it. Therefore the award of compensation for harassment by public authorities not only compensates the individual, satisfies him personally but helps in curing social evil. It may result in improving the work culture and help in changing the outlook. The Commission in exercise of its power under Section 19(8)(b) of the RTI Act awards a compensation of Rs.3000/- to the Appellant for the loss and detriment suffered by him in having to pursue the appeals and getting the information late. The Commission recommends that the Secretary, CIC may consider recovering this amount from the salary of the persons responsible for this.”

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