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CIC abroad, work at Punjab information panel hit as no one given charge

The CIC is vested with powers to entrust cases of appeals.

punjab Updated: Aug 06, 2018 09:23 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
CIC,Punjab,chief information commissioner
Chief information commissioner SS Channy(HT File )

With the chief information commissioner (CIC), SS Channy, out of the country for a few weeks, work at the Punjab State Information Commission has come to a standstill as he has not given charge to anyone in his absence.

The CIC is vested with powers to entrust cases of appeals.

“Cases are piling up and there’s no one to allocate them to the information commissioners,” said a commission official requesting not to be quoted.

The commission receives 10-15 cases on a working day. This is for the second time when Channy is away on ex-India leave, without handing over charge to anyone. He was on a similar leave in April.

Section 13 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act says the responsibility of superintendence and control of the commission vests with the CIC.

“So there has to be someone who can act in his (CIC’s) absence. CIC is first among equals and hence charge could be handed over to the next senior-most information commissioner,” the official said.

There are special provisions in the RTI Act which say that information be given in 48 hours if someone’s life and liberty are at stake. There are over 100 contractual employees whose salaries have not been paid due to non-availability of CIC. If any of the commissioners has to go on leave they have to approach the Punjab governor who has delegated his powers to the CIC.

Before leaving, Channy is learnt to have given verbal instructions to his staff not to give papers arriving in his office to anyone in the commission.

“The work in the commission is going on smoothly. As far as dates to the appellants are concerned, no case is held up. There was an issue regarding release of salaries but it has been sorted out. The CIC’s charge can’t be given to anyone else,” said Jaswinder Kaur, officiating secretary.

“I am sure the work has not stopped. If somebody needed orders from me, I can do the same by email. Only the government can give or take charge of CIC,” Channy told HT from Canada.

First Published: Aug 06, 2018 09:23 IST