March 18, 2021 10:26:31 pm
Manipur’s chief information commissioner on Monday issued a reminder to the chief secretary to ensure all government departments appoint state public information officers (SPIOs) and a First Appellate Authority (FAA) in adherence to the RTI Act, 2005.
The reminder came in connection with an application filed by an RTI activist, who wasn’t provided with the information he sought for over a year.
State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) Oinam Sunil Singh said the application sought information in connection with the departmental promotion of sub-inspectors to the post of inspectors by Manipur Police between 2017 and 2019. However, the SPIO, Home did not furnish any information to the appellant within the mandated period of 30 days.
Singh said, aggrieved by the repeated failures, even by the parent department of Manipur police (Home), to provide information as stipulated under the RTI Act, the applicant approached Manipur Information Commission.
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The applicant pressed the Commission to initiate penal action under Section 20 (2) of the RTI Act, 2005 against the public authority concerned (Manipur Police) for the delay. He also accused the state police of giving misleading information.
The Commission, while citing its limitation when it comes to interfering in the affairs of a constitutional body, expressed its misgivings over the failure of Manipur Police to designate any public authority as the SPIO as well as a senior officer as the First Appellate Authority (FAA) despite being asked to do so.
The Commission observed that the prolonged hearing in the present case was due to the absence of a full-fledged SPIO in the police department.
Invoking Section 19 (8) (a) (ii) of the RTI Act, 2005, the Commission appointed the present SAPIO/ SP, DG Control Room as the new SPIO. This arrangement will continue till the state police appoints its regular SPIO. The Commission further advised Manipur’s DGP to allow either the ADGP (RTI) or IGP (RTI) to function as the FAA of the state police.
It was also of the view that successive chief Secretaries, despite holding the charge of the Home department, had turned a blind eye to the absence of a regular SPIO in the police department. “Such behaviour and attitude would defeat the very aim and spirit of the RTI, 2005 enacted by the parliament to bring transparency and accountability in governance,” it said.
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