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Your right to info gets a boost

IF YOU are a government employee and want to know how your appraisal, assessment or promotion went this time round, you will be well within your right to do so. And never take a no for an answer.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 01:35 IST

IF YOU are a government employee and want to know how your appraisal, assessment or promotion went this time round, you will be well within your right to do so. And never take a no for an answer.

A Lucknow scientist has gone ahead and proved just that. On his complaint, the Central Information Commission has in fact pulled up two officers of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for denying information to the scientist under the Right to Information Act and ordered that the same be provided to him within 15 days.

Dr Anand Akhila, a CSIR scientist working at the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow, had sought records related to his assessment for promotion. His plea was, however, turned down. Dr Akhila had on October 26, 2005 moved the public information officer (PIO) of CSIR DS Bedi seeking the information. To this, Bedi had replied that “his request could not be allowed as it was exempted under section 8(1) of the Act”. Bedi sent another letter alerting the appellate authority to which Akhila could have appealed against the refusal. However, even without an appeal, the appellate authority VK Gupta, director, Information Technology Division, sided with Bedi’s decision.

Akhila then moved the CIC on February 15, 2006. To this, the CIC directed the CSIR to provide the appellant with information on marks awarded to him by each committee member, without disclosing their names; the threshold mark fixed by the board of promotion and permission to inspect the records related to his assessment.

The CIC in its decision dated Arpil 24 observed: “The PIO Bedi seems to have had no reasonable ground for delay in sending the brief and slipshod response to the application of the appellant. He will thus show cause within ten working days of the Act as to why he should not pay the prescribed penalty for delaying his response and not providing the information…Although the appellate authority is not covered by the penal provisions of this Act, Mr VK Gupta has clearly failed in this case to uphold the law or act in the public interest.”

While talking to Hindustan Times, Dr Akhila said: “With the decision of CIC, it is apparent that public authorities cannot deny information related to their assessments or promotions.”

First Published: May 05, 2006 01:35 IST