The state chief information commissioner Vilas Patil has defended his action of altering his verbal order before handing it to an information seeker, Sunil Mishra, in writing.
Mishra, a resident of Nagpur, had accused Patil of manipulating the order that allowed him to seek documents under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Mishra had said that since the order given in the open court was later changed fraudulently, the then Nagpur information commissioner should be sacked.
The Hindustan Times had reported the matter on January 22, 2011. Responding to Mishra’s charges, Patil told the HT, “It’s perfectly legal to make changes in the order which I had issued on the day of hearing. I did it because a few more documents were submitted later before I could deliver the final verdict. But I did not deny Mishra information.”
Patil said he allowed third party intervention because it is perfectly legal. “The complainant doesn’t know the procedure. He may move the high court against this (to challenge the directive).” Mishra had approached the governor’s office last month seeking action against Patil. The commissioner said he would present his side to the governor whenever asked to do so.
Mishra had sought caste certificates of 74 teachers in the Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University under the RTI Act. Patil had asked the university information officer to provide Mishra with the desired information in 10 days. When Mishra didn’t get the information, he moved Patil again but then found that the commissioner had allowed teachers to intervene and made relevant changed in his oral order. Mishra objected to this. Mishra claimed that the written order issued by Patil later was entirely different from his verbal order.
RTI lawyer YP Singh said that oral orders could be amended but “in this case, the information seeker seems have followed all the procedures required and the information officer was also present at the hearing. So, it is expected that both oral and written orders are compatible with each other.”