Two officials of the distant Andaman and Nicobar Islands received a penalty notice under Right to Information Act --- through video-conferencing.
Apparently a first case of its kind, the Central Information Commission issued penalty notices to the Director, Education and the Deputy Commission of the Andaman district for not providing information to the RTI applicant M Lingamayya.
He had sought information on five administrative matters from the Andaman and Nicobar Island administration but got reply regarding only two. The Public Information Officer told CIC that the notice to seek information from the Education Department and Deputy Commissioner was sent on February 2006 but no reply was received. Even after that several reminders were send but there was no response from the respective departments.
On January 3, through video conferencing at National Informatics Centre at Lodhi Road, Information Commissioner OP Kejriwal held the hearing. Officials of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lingamayya were, on the other side, at Port Blair participating in the hearing.
Unlike states, which have their own State Information Commissioners, the Union Territories (UTs), are under the Central Information Commission and asking the appellant and the officials to come to Delhi may prove to be a cumbersome process.
During the hearing, Kejriwal found that the appellant was repeatedly complaining that the Andaman administration was not responsive towards RTI. However, the PIO insisted that the government has appointed PIOs in different departments. But, Kejriwal did not appeared to be convinced and instantly announced that he would visit the Union Territory himself to take stock of the situation.
Kejirwal's order has, however, created history of sorts by issuing a penalty notice to the two officials through video-conferencing.