The state general administration department (GAD) has messed up with the right to information (RTI) procedure in regard to an application to get details of appointment process of chief secretary Anthony de Sa.
In contravention of rules, the department conducted the first appeal hearing on the RTI application 11 months after the it was filed and six months after the applicant filed a complaint with State Information Commission (SIC) that the first appeal hearing was not being conducted.
More interestingly, the first appeal hearing came three days after the first hearing date of the complaint at SIC was already over and the general administration department officials had failed to attend the hearing.
After going through the matter and hearing out the applicant Ajay Dubey who took major objection to the violation of rules, the chief information commissioner (CIC) KD Khan reserved his order on the matter on Tuesday.
According to rules, the reply of RTI application is to be given within a month. If the applicant does not receive this reply and files first appeal, this has to be disposed by the appellate authority within a month too. However, in this case, the RTI application was filed by Dubey at the GAD on September 19, 2013 and the first appeal was filed on October 24 the same year.
After not receiving any response from the department for five months, Dubey filed a complaint under Section 18 of RTI with SIC on March 12 this year.
Documents available with HT show that this complaint hearing at SIC came up on September 8, 2014 but the GAD public information officer failed to attend.
Another hearing was then scheduled for Tuesday (September 16), when the GAD official submitted before the commission that the first appeal hearing was conducted by GAD appellate authority (principal secretary Ashwani Kumar Rai) on September 12, 2014 and it was decided that the information could not be provided to RTI applicant because it was not an issue of public interest.
Interestingly, the first appeal order also mentions that if the applicant was not happy with the order, he could file a second appeal with the SIC according to rule.
During the hearing, Dubey objected to the fact that the first appeal hearing came a long time after the passage of one month duration and after the complaint had been filed with SIC and was thus irrelevant.
After listening to the complainant as well as looking at reply of the public information officers (PIO), the CIC reserved his final order on the issue.
The principal secretary of GAD Ashwani Kumar Rai could not be contacted for comments as he has proceeded on leave and his cell phone remained switched off.