Novel punishment: PIOs delaying info underRTI told to plant saplingsUpdated: Dec 28, 2019, 00:23 IST
State information commissioner has devised a novel way of imposing fine on erring public information officers (PIO) of government departments for undue delay in providing information to RTI applicants.
Instead of imposing monetary fine, Ajay Kumar Uprety, state information officer, recently ordered two PIOs to plant five saplings each in their respective regions for delay in providing information to RTI applicants.
In another case, the SIC ordered the PIO to distribute blankets after he failed to provide information to an RTI applicant on time.
In a bid to ensure proper compliance of his orders, Uprety also instructed the PIOs to submit video recording and photographs showing that the assigned task has been performed.
The SIC also instructed the two PIOs to take care of saplings for the next three months to ensure that they grow up into proper trees.
“We have to find ways to make sure that PIOs realize their mistake. Such punishments also help them carry out their social responsibilities,” said Uprety.
Earlier, state information commissioners used to impose monetary fine on erring officers.
Akhilesh Kumar Tripathi, Gram Panchayat Adhikari, in development block Amethi, under Amethi district, was found guilty of not providing information to an RTI applicant on time.
Uprety ordered him to plant five saplings in his gram panchayat. On November 6 last, Tripathi appeared before the state information commissioner on a hearing and submitted all proofs, including CD of the video recording of sapling plantation.
In another case, Suresh Kumar Yadav, Gram Panchayat Adhikari, Bhadar block, Amethi district, also failed to provide information to an RTI applicant on time. Yadav was also handed over same punishment- planting of five saplings. He too accomplished the task and submitted all proofs to the state information commissioner on November 6 last.
Both of them are working as public information officers in their respective offices.
Another PIO was handed over the punishment of distributing five blankets when he failed to provide information to an RTI applicant.
Why PIOs are fined?
As per the RTI rules, the PIO has to provide information within 30 days of applicant filing for them. In case, the PIO fails to provide information within deadline, first appeal can be filed with the department. Even then, if an RTI applicant fails to get information, he can file second appeal with the state information commissioner, who sits in Lucknow.
Here, the case is heard and PIOs are directed to file information. Fines are imposed if the PIOs are found guilty of deliberately delaying the process.
As per rules, the SICs can impose fine at the rate of Rs 250 per day. A maximum of Rs 25, 000 can be imposed on PIOs.
There are around 18,000 PIOs in various government departments all across the state, with maximum 3000 in the state capital.
A special section is dedicated to realization of fine in the UP RTI, Rules, 2015.