The State Information Commission of Punjab issued a notice to municipal corporation's zonal commissioner (zone-A) Kamlesh Bansal for the delay in providing information related to house tax asked under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Bansal, who is also a public information officer, was issued the notice after RTI activist Kuldeep Singh Khaira filed a complaint.
"The case dates back to August 23, 2011, when I had filed an RTI application demanding information regarding all buildings which have been exempted from paying house tax or have applied for such an exemption to the municipal corporation," said Khaira.
After the expiry of 30 days, the time within which the concerned authority should have given the information, Khaira lodged the first appeal.
The assistant public information officer (APIO, zone-A) (House Tax) did not provide the complete information during the course of the first appeal.
On April 16, the first appellate authority disposed of the case, while directing the APIO (zone-A) (House Tax) to provide the remaining information to the appellant immediately.
"Even after the passage of four months, when the APIO (zone-A) (House Tax), did not bother to supply the remaining information related to 92 buildings belonging to Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) which are exempted from paying house tax, I knocked the door of the State Information Commission, Punjab; in the first hearing the representative of public information officer (PIO) supplied documents in relation to 24 properties belonging to CMCH which are exempted from paying house tax and assured that information on the remaining 68 properties shall be provided before the next date of hearing," said Khaira.
Khaira said that he was shocked to receive a letter (number 427, dated December 10) as the APIO (zone-A)(house tax) had supplied information regarding only five properties and had written that there was no record available in relation to the 63 properties belonging to CMCH which were exempted from paying house tax.
"In the next hearing, on December 20, I brought all the facts before the Information Commission and prayed that a show-cause notice under Section 20 of the RTI Act be issued to the PIO," he said.
The commission, after hearing the respondent and perusing the records available, issued a show-cause notice to PIO Kamlesh Bansal, zonal commissioner, zone-A office of the municipal corporation of Ludhiana. He was asked as why not a penalty, under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act, be imposed upon him for wilfully delaying information.
"In addition to his submission, the PIO is also hereby given an opportunity under Section 20(1) proviso, thereto, for a personal hearing before the imposition of such penalty on the next date of hearing. He may note that in case he does not file his submission and does not avail himself of the opportunity of a personal hearing on the next date fixed, it will be presumed that he has nothing to say and the commission shall proceed to take further action against him ex-parte," stated the order of the Information Commission.