It does not pay to deny information under the Right to Information Act. A Central government official learnt that the hard way when she had to part with Rs 12,500 from her salary for blocking information to a citizen.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) had found KD Bansor, an additional public information officer and an under-secretary in the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and her colleague Tikam Singh, a section officer, guilty of delay in divulging information and harassing an applicant, Mukesh Kumar.
On January 1, Kumar, a resident of Ghaziabad, had sought information on the action taken by the Commission on his representation on the ministry of steel. Kumar had wanted to know the number of people from reserved categories who had been promoted in different public sector units under the steel ministry.
However, the SC/ST Commission took over four months to inform Kumar that they did not have the statistics he wanted. Kumar sought an inquiry into the Commission's failure to maintain these records.
When the Commission failed to provide the relevant information even after a CIC order, Information Commissioner OP Kejriwal invoked the penalty clause in September against the two officials. They were fined Rs 25,000 — the maximum amount under the RTI Act.
Last week, the SC/ST Commission sent the CIC a cheque of Rs 12,500 that was deducted from Bansor’s salary. But the fine could not be recovered from Singh's salary as he has since been transferred to the ministry of social welfare and justice. However, the Commission said they had asked Singh’s new ministry to make sure they deduct his salary.