The breach of the Right to Information (RTI) Act has put a public information officer here in jeopardy. State Information Commission (SIT) on Friday issued bailable warrants against this public work department PIO.
State information commissioner Surinder Awasthi issued these warrants against PWD executive enginner SP Singh, who is PIO under Section 18(c) of the RTI Act. The commission also directed the Patiala senior superintendent of police to serve the warrants to the PIO and bring him to the hearing on September 30 with relevant record of the information that the appellant had sought.
On February 4, Patiala resident Vijay Walia has sought to know from the PWD if its contractors were registered under the Building and Other Constructions Workers Act, and if they extended the entitled benefits to the employees. The authority, however, had failed to give information to the seeker, following which he had to approach it again in March.
On July 23, when the complainant moved the commission, the PWD public information officer assured it that Walia would have the information by August 20. In his orders, state information commissioner Awasthi stated that the PIO had failed to honour his word and now sought time till September 10.
The PWD submitted that it had asked its superintending engineers to gather the required information. "In defiance to the commission orders, the respondent PIO has preferred to abstain from the September 10 hearing, in spite of the fact that he had assured us to provide us with the information. To ensure his presence on the next hearing, the commission is constrained to issue bailable warrants against SP Singh," Awasthi observed.
The commission has also given a show-cause notice to the PIO under the RTI Act, asking him why a penalty of `250 a day and a maximum of `25,000 be not imposed on him from the date of application to the furnishing of the details. The PIO has orders to submit an affidavit before the next hearing, giving reasons for delaying and denying the information.
The commission also awarded the appellant monetary compensation, since he had attended all hearings.