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CIC slams UT for ‘not applying mind’ while deciding RTI pleas

4 separate RTI applications decided by Superintendent Engineer of electricity dept by one common order.

Written by RAGHAV OHRI | Chandigarh | Published: October 6, 2013 1:31:27 am

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has come down heavily on the Chandigarh Electricity Department for sheer ‘lack of application of mind’ in disposing of applications demanding information under Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Sample this: Four separate RTI applications were decided by Superintendent Engineer of Electricity Department by one common order. This is ‘not the correct method of disposal. This is reflective of complete lack of application of mind or sense of responsibility’,reads the order passed by Deepak Sandhu,Chief Information Commissioner.

The Commission has also pulled up the first appellate authority (FAA) of the Electricity Department,the Superintendent Engineer in the present case. The Commission has ‘warned’ the engineer to ‘discharge the responsibilities ascribed to him under the RTI Act henceforth’.

The Commission has also recommended the Supervisory Chief Engineering to provide adequate training to MM Singh. The CIC has directed the Department to issue separate orders in future for each RTI application.

“The Commission is constrained to pass stricture on FAA for having denied disclosure of the requested information under the provisions of Section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act,” reads the order. The strictures have been passed on a petition filed by Rakesh Sood,resident of Panchkula.

The petitioner had sought information with regard to correspondence that took place between SDO,Xean and superintending engineer regarding laying of high tension wires and low tension wires in Industrial Area,Chandigarh.

Sood had demanded information regarding laying of underground cables of HT (high tension) and LT (low tension) cables in the Industrial Area. He had demanded the entire correspondence which took place from 2008 to 2012.

“The information sought by you is non-specific and extra ordinary voluminous in nature. If public authority department starts preparing/collecting such information,the same will disproportionate divert the resources of the department which is already facing acute shortage of staff. Therefore,custodian of record is unable to supply information”,dated CPIO,Xean.

Much to his surprise,not only the department denied the information on the plea that it cannot be shared with since it was ‘persona’ in nature but the superintendent engineer also disposed of all the four RTI applications by passing one common order.

Finding this method of disposal as ‘incorrect’,the Commission has directed the department to supply the desired information ‘free of cost’ within a period of three weeks.

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