Now RTI wallops School Edu. Dept

 ‘Directive to provide misleading info’ 

Dimapur, July 17 (MExN): The department of School Education has been issued show-cause notice demanding explanation by the State Information Commission why the department should not be penalized for failing to provide information within the stipulated time. The PIO is directed to appear before the commission on August 3, Friday at 11am in the Zonal Council Hall, Kohima to show as to why it should not pay a penalty of Rs. 250 per day for every day of delay in furnishing the information sought by the appellant, subject to a maximum of Rs. 25,000.

The appellant, one Helie Rupreo of Lower Bayavü Hill, Kohima, had submitted under RTI an application to the Public Information Officer of the department of School Education (SCERT), Kohima on March 19, 2007, requesting information pertaining to DIET (SCERT) regarding seniority and promotions.

He did not receive any information in reply to his application within the prescribed 30 days. He then referred to the appellate authority, School Education Kohima. He received a letter from the Deputy Secretary, Education department Kohima furnishing him “Information/comments under RTI Act 2005 pertaining to the final seniority and promotion under SCERTIDIETS, ” forwarding him a copy of the final seniority list of officers under SCERTIDIET and paragraph-wise comments to the information sought.

The commission received Rupreo’s second appeal stating that he had failed to obtain information and comments sought under RTI as both the PIO and the appellate authority refused information to him within the time frame. He expressed dissatisfaction that the Deputy Secretary had forwarded to him the final seniority list of officers under SCERTIDIET along with paragraph-wise replies furnished by the Director of SCERT. He complained that whereas he had sought information and comments from the competent authority, the director was instead asked to provide misleading, incorrect and incomplete replies.

The appeal was heard by the full commission on July 4, 2007. The commission directed the PIO to furnish the information sought to the appellant, free of cost, within 10 working days from the date of issue of this decision and a report of compliance should be submitted.

The commission also observed that the department has not handled the RTI application in the initial stages carefully, informing applicant that there is no PIO in the department and simply forwarding comments of the director. The department is advised to be more careful in handling such RTI applications in future.

It was found that there was a delay of 47 days, when actually the information sought should have been given by within the prescribed 30 days.

As per section 20 (1) of the RTI Act 2005 penalty is to be charged at a rate of Rs. 250 per day, starting from the completion of 30 days from the date of receipt of the original application, till the actual date of providing the information, subject to a maximum of Rs. 25,000. The penalty is liable to be imposed for the number of days from March 19, 2007 to the date the same is furnished, i.e. July 5, 2007.