RTI not a tool to expedite work in govt depts: info panel

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Feb 22, 2015 19:45 IST

The state information commission, Punjab, in an order pronounced on February 18 has inferred that "the Right to Information (RTI) is not a tool to expedite the action on the request or application submitted to the government departments".

SIC commissioner Surinder Awasthi pronounced the order in the case related to 23 complaints filed to the Ludhiana municipal corporation, on different issues from March 24 to June 27 last year, followed by an RTI application filed on July 7, seeking information on action taken on all these complaints and also demanding inspection of records, files, documents, notes, sheets and correspondence.

Rohit Sabharwal of Ludhiana filed his first appeal on August 25 last year and approached the SIC on December 29 last year. The SIC order says, "It is a case where the appellant is abusing the right to obtain information to seek vengeance on the public authority."

The commission is not inclined to entertain the RTI request as it is of the considered opinion that there should be a reasonable gap between submission of a request and then seeking information through the RTI on the action taken on the same.

The order quoted the decision of the Madras high court in 2013, when it upheld denial of information and overruled directions of the Central Information Commission (CIC). In the case, one B Bharathi had made several applications and queries, including 47 complaints to the registrar, Madras high court, and then sought information on various aspects of these complaints under the provisions of the RTI Act.

The Supreme Court judgment in the past had also inferred, "Indiscriminate and impractical demands or direction under the RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information would be counterproductive, as it would adversely affect the efficiency of the administration and result in the executive getting bogged down with non-productive work of collecting and furnishing information."

It says the act should not be allowed to be misused or abused, nor it should be converted into a tool of oppression or intimidation of honest officers. The nation doesn't want a scenario where 75% of the staff of the public authority spends 75% of their time in collecting and furnishing information instead of discharging duties.

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