Haryana saw the highest number of cases in which officials were found to be in violation of the Right to Information Act during the year 2017 since the enactment of the law in 2005. The state’s Information Commission has, in more than 200 cases, recommended disciplinary action against the guilty officials.
According to the latest data, the Commission, till the end of November, recommended action in at least 266 cases against the Public Information Officers under Section 20 (2) of the RTI Act. As per the law, the disciplinary action proceedings are recommended against the officials for persistent denial of the information within the specified time or for providing it in an incomplete or misleading manner. This year’s number on disciplinary action recommendations from the Commission is the highest since 2005 as it has crossed the 200 mark for the first time. During last year, the Commission recommended disciplinary action against officials in 186 cases while in 2015, the figure stood at 157.
“The reason of denial of information may be their fear that they may be caught in any case of corruption or irregularity but the primary reason is that there is no cataloguing or indexing of the information in the government departments as demanded by the Section 4 of the RTI Act,” said advocate Pradeep Kumar Rapria, who was a legal adviser with the Central Information Commission in the past.
Rapria said that most of the information sought through the RTI applications is usually required to be declared suo motu by the public authorities as is provided in the Act. “Since there is no cataloging and indexing of the documents, there is a sea of information and officials don’t know where to find the information sought by the citizens,” he said.
Over 9,000 applicants had to approach the Information Commission this year with complaints or appeals for redressal of their grievances related to their RTI requests and in 310 of these cases, the Commission imposed a total penalty of Rs 48.41 lakh on the officials for violation of the Act.