At the time when the country was celebrating the seventh anniversary of the Right to Information Act, information under it revealed the dismal implementation of "reporting and monitoring provisions under section 25" of the transparency law.
Responding to a petition filed by PP Kapoor, an activist from Panipat, the state information commission (SIC) admitted that 122 departments, boards, corporations, district and session judges have not submitted their annual reports relating to all RTI petitions since 2009.
Interestingly, no action has been initiated against any of the erring government establishments, said the SIC in a reply submitted on October 9, a day before the national RTI day.
Irked over the present situation, Kapoor decided to approach the Punjab and Haryana high court for effective implementation of the information law in the state.
The detailed reply listed names of the defaulting public offices (HT has a copy), including chief minister's secretariat and departments of home, archeology, printing, information and public relations (all under chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda), chief secretary, finance department.
Deputy commissioners of Rohtak, Karnal, Panchkula district and session judges of Mewat and Panipat also figured in the list of those who failed to abide by the rules.
Under Section 25 of the RTI Act, each department or ministry of the government is required to submit the details annually, including number of requests of each public authority, number of people not entitled to access information, amount collected by means of fee by each public authority and suggestions of moderations to the SIC.
Further, the commission is also required to submit these reports annually to the state assembly.
But, the SIC categorically replied in its October 9 reply that "no annual report (of reporting and monitoring under rule 25 of the RTI) since 2009 is prepared."
The commission also terms the matter as "confidential" as the annual reports are yet to be tabled on the floor of the house.
Reacting to the reply, Kapoor said it was a serious matter where the SIC had failed miserably to maintain the sanctity of its own office.
"The blame lies on the state government where the retired bureaucrats, known for their proximity to the politicians, are appointed as information commissioners. Instead of working for the common man, members remain soft on the erring departments and officials and the current information exposes the poor status of the Act in Haryana," Kapoor said.