The Haryana information commission has expressed “severe displeasure” on the functioning of the public works department (PWD) and directed top officials to fix responsibility and streamline the functioning of the department’s public information officers so the appellants were not harassed.
The case pertains to an application filed by a Faridabad resident, Dr Brahm Dutt, a recipient of Padma Shri for social work in 2014, who had sought information on July 28, 2014, about Dalbir Singh Dhanda, then working as an executive engineer, provincial division PWD, Faridabad. The appellant was informed that such a person did not exist in the department.
Since the appellant was not present on Thursday, information commissioner Hemant Atri sought to hear the case through video-conferencing with the appellant. However, it could not take place due to a technical glitch and the information commissioner heard it via audio-conferencing.
Perusing the replies of the department given to Dutt, the commission found that the then public information officer had replied “without any application of mind” that the information sought was personal and hence could not be furnished. The supplementary reply on November 10, 2014, was furnished after the orders of the first appellate authority (FAA) wherein information related to some Dilbag Singh Dhanda was furnished.
“This is sorry state of affairs in the department…. not only the public information officer but the FAA also does not apply its mind on the Right to Information (RTI) application pertaining to the department,” Atri held in his decision.
The commission also observed that such a careless and arrogant attitude of the department official should not be tolerated at any cost if the rights of the appellant were to be protected under the RTI Act.
The commission thus advised Rakesh Manocha, engineer-in-chief, PWD, to personally look into the matter and inquire into the facts which led to such a situation and fix the responsibility in a time-bound framework and streamline the functioning of the public information officers. If need be, arrange for their training, so the appellant’s were not harassed anymore. A copy of this order was also sent to the additional chief secretary of the department for information and necessary action, if any.