RTI: SAIL pulled up for dereliction of duty
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RTI: SAIL pulled up for dereliction of duty

CIC has expressed its anguish that public authorities like SAIL are not prepared to implement RTI Act.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2006 11:12 IST

The Central Information Commission has expressed its anguish that public authorities like the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) are not prepared to implement the Right To Information Act (RTI), which is a statutory duty under the newly-enacted law.

The Commission regretted that though under Section 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act, 2005, it is mandatory for every Government authority to publish and make public the powers and duties of its officers and employees, SAIL is one of the public authority which had refrained from fulfilling its statutory obligation.

SAIL's defiance of the Act came to the notice of the Commission after a woman applicant Sunanda Bharti complained that the organisation refused to part with the information sought by her.

In her application dated January 18, 2006 addressed to SAIL, Bharti sought details of the powers and duties including job specifications for the officers of selection grades E-2, E-3 and E-5 posted at Okhla Stockyard, New Delhi.

The CPIO of SAIL, however, failed to respond to her application within the statutory period of 30 days and instead on March one rejected the request.

SAIL's appellate authority, on an appeal from Bharti, upheld the decision of the CPIO on the ground that the information could not be acceded as the organisation enjoyed immunity from divulging the same under Section 8(1)(d) of the Act.

However, the Commission while rejecting SAIL's arguments directed it to provide all information sought by the applicant within 15 days.

"SAIL is one of the public authorities which is as yet not prepared to implement the Act as evident from the manner in which it has attended to the RTI application," the Commission observed.

The Commission noted that SAIL had paid scant regard to the implementation of RTI Act as firstly the disclosure of powers and duties of officers and employees is mandatory under Section 4 (1) (b) (ii) of the Act.

Secondly it pointed out that the CPIO of SAIL failed to respond to the applicant's request within the mandatory 30 days.

Moreover, the organisation misinterpreted Section 8(1)(d) to deny information to the applicant, the Commision said.

Hence the Commission ordered the Chairman of SAIL and Secretary, Ministry of Steel to ensure that the obligations of public authorities as mandated under the Act are fullfilled and a complaince report be furnished at the earliest.

The Commission also directed the CPIO to appear before it on June 22 to show cause as why a penalty should not be imposed on him for failing to furnish the requisite information to the applicant withing the mandatory deadline of 30 days.

First Published: Jun 14, 2006 10:40 IST