The Central Information Commission (CIC) has pulled up the Rashtrapati Bhawan's Secretariat for its "careless" disposal of a citizen's application under the Right to Information Act.
In a strong indictment of the country's First Citizen's Secretariat, the Commission felt that such action was unbecoming in an office as august as the highest in the land and needed to be remedied.
The applicant, Mahendra Gaur, had submitted an application to the Rashtrapati Bhawan's Secretariat on March 1 this year seeking to know the status of the complaint he had made to the President against the then chairman of the Indian Oil Corporation.
However, it was alleged that Ashish Kalia, Public Information Officer (PIO) of the President's Secretariat, refused to accept Gaur's application and instead directed that he approach the IOC directly for redressal of his grievance.
Following this, Gaur moved the CIC seeking a direction to the President's Secretariat to furnish him the required information.
The Commission held that Under Section 6 (3) of the RTI, the Public Authority to which the application is made, shall transfer the application or such part which may be appropriate to that other Public Authority which either holds the information or is more closely connected with the subject matter of the application.
It was pointed out by the CIC that no transfer has in fact been made by the PIO of the Secretariat who simply advised the applicant to approach the PIO of the Ministry of Petrolem & Natural Gas.
The CIC pointed out that under the Act, the Public Authority concerned was required to transfer an application to the other Public Authority concerned within five days.
But in this case the Secretariat merely advised the applicant and that too only 15 days after the application was submitted, the Commission observed.
"We are constrained to point out that careless disposal of the case without respect to the details of the legislation in an office as august as the highest in the land is unbecoming of that office and requires to be remedied," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah remarked.
However, the Commission refrained from imposing any penalty against the PIO for his defiance of the Act.