IN A first of its kind case in the State, the Central Information Commission heard an appeal of a Bhopal-based innovator through videoconferencing recently under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. After hearing, the CIC served notice to the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) of the Union Department of Science and Technology (DST) for failing to respond to the appellant.
The appellant, V K Sonakia, a resident of Padmanabh Nagar, had to spend just Rs 10 on the entire proceeding. During the same hearing, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah also frowned on dual policy of the Central government agencies regarding ‘No disclosure agreement’ that is a must under the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) regime.
The CIC advised the authorities of the DST and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to ‘sit together to ensure a uniformity of approach in matter of this nature, so designed as to inculcate a scientific temper’.
Sonakia, who claims to have invented a system of disaster prediction, had filed an appeal with the CIC after the DST and associated agencies failed to respond to his applications under the RTI. The appeal was taken up by CIC and the Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah himself heard the case through videoconferencing on December 14.
Sonakia had sought information from the DST on whether it was possible to demonstrate his innovative techniques (of disaster prediction) before that National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) without ‘No disclosure agreement’ and demanded copies of decision in this regard from the department. The DST had forwarded the matter to the TIFAC that failed to respond to the query of Sonakia.
Sonakia had also pointed out in the appeal that the while the CSIR – also the Union Government agency — had agreed for the ‘no disclosure agreement’, the DST was dithering – displaying a discrepancy in central policy.
Talking to the Hindustan Times, Sonakia said he has been approaching the DST to undertake a ‘no disclosure agreement’ with him so that he could demonstrate his innovative technique of disaster prediction without having any apprehension of its details being leaked, but to no avail. Though after several petitions the CSIR agreed to go in for the agreement for a demonstration before the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), the DST did not.
At the end of the hearing, the CIC served notice to the CPIO of TIFAC asking it to file reply by January 29 as to why he should not be held liable for penalty for not supplying the information sought by the appellant.
The Chief Information Commissioner also advised the DST and CSIR authorities to chalk out a uniform policy regarding the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).