Transparency officers: Ludhiana MC’s first appellate authority to appear before PSIC
The Punjab State Information Commission (PSIC) has directed Rohit Kumar, public information officer (PIO) and the Ludhiana municipal corporation (MC)’s first appellate authority to appear before the commission for not coming up with a clear response to a query under the Right to Information on appointment of transparency officers in the civic body.
The next hearing through video conferencing has been scheduled for September 14.
City based RTI activist Rohit Sabharwal had, under RTI, sought the names of the transparency officers deputed in MC and asked for reasons if they had not been appointed.
As the MC failed to provide the information, Sabharwal moved the PSIC and during its hearing on August 5, and the commission observed that the MC had failed to appoint the officer and that Rohit Kumar had submitted “a vague reply” that the commission had to deploy the officials in MC.
This happened despite PSIC already issuing a letter to the department of government reforms to appoint the officers in public authorities in 2019.
Directing the MC to submit a reply with the applicant, the commission ordered the PIO and the MC's first appellate authority (a copy is with the Hindustan Times) to be present during the next hearing.
Sabharwal said in November, 2010, the chief information commission (CIC) had issued circular to appoint transparency officers, following which the department of state governance reforms had issued a letter on July 23, 2019, for the same. He alleged that even after 10 years since CIC had issued the circular, the transparency officer had not been deputed in MC.
The role of the transparency officer is effective record management, digitisation of records, high priority and quality in disposing of RTI applications etc.
It is the responsibility of the PIO of a public authority to supply correct and complete information within the specified time to any person seeking information under the RTI Act.