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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Here's a lesson: Govt college principal fined Rs. 25k for not giving info under RTI

Shailee Dogra, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, November 14, 2013
First Published: 23:53 IST(14/11/2013) | Last Updated: 23:55 IST(14/11/2013)

Dr JS Raghu, principal of the Post-Graduate Government College (PGGC), Sector 11, has been fined Rs. 25,000 by the Central Information Commission for not providing a reply to a professor's Right to Information (RTI) plea.

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The professor, Dr Rajiv Bhandari, had filed an appeal with the panel after he was not given his annual confidential reports (ACRs), which are effectively performance appraisals, for the past eight years. In the appeal, Bhandari said that principal Raghu, in his capacity as the central public information officer (CPIO) for the institute, had withheld the information that he had sought in 2012 about his ACRs and the contents of the ACRs of his colleagues.

Bhandari said that, in a bid to harass him, the principal sought information regarding his identity despite him being employed with the same college. The principal had referred the matter to the director of higher education department, seeking a clarification regarding the disclosure of the requested information, even when there is no such provision under the RTI Act.

The CIC, in its order of November 11, dismissed the principal's contesntion that he was "ignorant" of RTI provisions: "He (principal Raghu) failed to provide photocopies of the appellant's (Bhandari's) own ACRs to him and instead referred the matter to director, higher education... Commission cannot accept his plea that he is ignorant of the provisions of RTI Act… The plea of ignorance pertaining to the Supreme Court decision of 2005 regarding disclosure of ACRs even after seven years of this decision is also not tenable."

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