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No info officers in courts even after 3 months

THE INDORE High Court bench and subordinate courts have not appointed Public Information Officer and Assistant Public Information Officer even after three months of the enactment of the Act. The Jabalpur and Gwalior HC benches too don?t have this provision, sources said.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2006 14:35 IST

THE INDORE High Court bench and subordinate courts have not appointed Public Information Officer and Assistant Public Information Officer even after three months of the enactment of the Act. The Jabalpur and Gwalior HC benches too don’t have this provision, sources said.

The appointment of information officers is the primary step for enforcement of the Act. The legislation, in fact, casts an obligation on each public authority including Supreme Court, High Courts, subordinate courts and their administrative offices to appoint information officers within 100 days of enforcement of the Act, which came into effect from October 12, 2005.

The Act has laid down day-to-day penalty for any breach. Interestingly, the State Bar Council, Indore High Court Bar Association, Indore District Bar Association, office of Additional Advocate General, Indore, and office of Registrar General of High Court at Jabalpur have maintained stillness over this Constitutional breach for past three months.

The authorities at Registrar General office, when contacted, confessed that there has been an inordinate delay in appointment of appellate authorities and said that proposal has been sent to the State Government for gazette notification to this effect.

However, the authorities refused to elaborate under what circumstances they require a gazette notification for promulgation of Act, specially when there is no such clause laid down for appointment of information officers.

“There is no separate procedure for nomination of public information officers in the Act. It needs to be looked that under what circumstances has the judiciary referred it to State Government for notification. They (judiciary) are expected to follow the norms,” State Chief Information Commissioner T N Shrivastav told Hindustan Times over phone from Bhopal.

He, however, added that his office has not received complaints that courts have avoided appointment of information officers.

As per the Act, courts were required to complete certain formalities like formation of two-tier appellate, the norms set by it for discharge of function, categories of documents held under its control, manner of execution, the powers and duties of administrative staff and preparing other manuals before commencement of Act. But no such exercise has been held so far.

This has raised the question that what could be expected of Government departments if the law interpreters fail to interpret their time bound duty. A large number of lawyers, surprisingly, are unaware that courts fall under the Act’s ambit.

“There are so many surprising things at Indore HC bench. Absence of Act provisions is one of them,” a senior advocate exclaimed in an off the cuff remark.

First Published: Jan 25, 2006 14:35 IST