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Memorandum not delivered, activist demands damages

chandigarh Updated: Nov 25, 2013 10:37 IST
Vishal Joshi
Vishal Joshi
Hindustan Times
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A Right to Information (RTI) activist has demanded compensation from the local district administration for non-deliverance of a memorandum containing “public issues” to the original addressees.

The activist, PP Kapoor, has also demanded a strict action against the “erring bureaucrats” given the duty of effective execution of the RTI.

Alleging that the memorandum submitted publicly to the local sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) on October 12 at the mini-secretariat last year was addressed to the President, Haryana governor and the chief information commissioner (CIC), Haryana.

While the communiqué never reached the CIC, the district administration is not ready to disclose any information in this regard to the activist.

Now, pained at the alleged indifferent attitude of the district authorities, Kapoor has approached the state information commission (SIC) demanding damages from the deputy commissioner (DC) and the city magistrate (CTM).

On the anniversary of the RTI Day observed on October 12, a resident of Samalkha town, near here, Kapoor and his associates had submitted a 14-point memorandum to SDM Ashwani Malik, suggesting improvement to ensure an effective implementation of the RTI Act in the state.

The activists had demanded to lower the RTI fee to Rs 10 per petition, introducing video conferencing at the time of hearing public appeals, inclusion of the RTI in the school syllabus, besides other requests.
However, when Kapoor wrote to the CIC on June 10 this year to learn what actions had the commission taken on the issues raised by the activist, he was intimated that no such letter was forwarded to the commission’s office in Chandigarh by the Panipat administration.

Kapoor filed an RTI petition on August 9 to the CTM, who is also the state information officer (SPIO) of the local DC office, and demanded complete details of the memorandum submitted, including the date of dispatch, diary number, receipt of postal dispatch etc.

As he received no reply, Kapoor submitted an appeal to the Panipat DC-cum-first appeallet authority (FAA), on September 14 but the matter was not heard.

Finally, Kapoor approached the CIC office on October 24 against the SPIO and FAA of the Panipat district administration, demanding a penalty of Rs 25,000 on both public officers and demanded a compensation of Rs 10,000.

Kapoor told Hindustan Times here on Sunday that the matter showed how the bureaucracy handled a democratic exercise of submitting memoranda by the individual or civil society to the authorities for their public concerns and demands.

He said as the SPIO and FAA had not responded to his petitions, it seemed that the administration had trashed the memorandum.

“Non-delivery of charters of demands to the addressees holding higher public offices amounts to cheating residents by the public officers. At the time of submitting the memorandum, we were sure that the commission would consider the issues taken up in the public interest. But, the administration has dishonoured the public sentiment,” Kapoor alleged.

Meanwhile, accepting Kapoor’s petition, the CIC has demanded written submission by the DC-cum-FAA and the CTM-cum-SPIO in this case by December 2.

Besides, both the officials have to appear before SIC PS Meena on December 11 personally or through a gazetted rank officer.