The State Information Commission has issued show-cause notice to the Indore divisional commissioner after failing to get a ‘satisfactory’ response on the issue of bringing government-aided non-government organisations (NGOs) under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Notices were also issued to the collectors of about two dozen districts in Indore, Gwalior, Chambal, Rewa and Sagar divisions, asking for status reports on the same issue.
In October last year, the Supreme Court had also held that NGOs and private organisations which are “substantially financed” by the government or its authorities, come under the ambit of RTI Act, making them liable to reveal information under the transparency law.
In the notice, the State Information Commission (SIC) asked the Indore commissioner’s office to explain why penalty should not be imposed for failing to come up with suitable response to an earlier letter.
The notice was issued last week, with instructions to reply within seven days.
The notice also mentioned that if reply is not received, the commission would be at liberty to take action according to rules. The Indore commissioner’s office is yet to respond to the notice.
The information commission’s action came after a complaint under section 18 of RTI Act was filed last month.
The complaint, filed by activist Ajay Dubey, alleged that the divisional and district-level authorities had failed to ensure provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 and subsequent rules framed by the state government regarding inclusion of “substantially-financed NGOs” (those with government grant of over Rs 50,000) under RTI ambit.
According to RTI Act, the aided NGOs have to appoint public information officer, appellate authority and make proactive disclosure on various important points including utility of funds on their websites.
Dubey said that despite the state government’s specific instruction in this regard in March 2009, the provisions are not being implemented.
The Indore divisional commissioner’s office was served initial notice last month and it replied on September 24, saying that the information was under compilation.
When contacted, the Indore divisional commissioner Sanjay Dubey confirmed receipt of the show-cause notice.
Refusing to reveal the contents of the reply, Dubey said that information on aided NGOs was not available or compiled by divisional commissioner’s office as the office did not give out any grants to NGOs.
"I have asked the collectors in the district to compile the information and provide it to the applicant and inform us," he said.
Though no linked to the SIC’s letters, the prime minister’s office (PMO) had earlier this year asked all ministries to furnish details of NGOs working with them on various projects.
The PMO directive followed a report from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) alleging that foreign-funded NGOs were threatening India's economic security. NGOs had rubbished the IB report.