Query about who authorises the installation of mobile towers atop buildings put off.

The State Information Commission has sent a notice to former public information officer of Kochi Corporation R. Sreekumar as a prelude to initiate action against him under Section 20 (1) (2) of the RTI Act.

The commission found that he wilfully delayed replying to an RTI query. Mr. Sreekumar is presently working as an executive engineer at the corporation central zone.

According to the commission officials, notices are mandatory before each punishment. The commission can impose a maximum of Rs. 25,000 on the erring officer besides recommending department-level disciplinary actions.

It was Chief Information Commissioner Siby Mathews who found Mr. Sreekumar of wilfully delaying the reply.

According to petitioner Bobby Kavalam, a resident of Pundit Karuppan Road in Thevara, he submitted an RTI query to the corporation’s Public Information Officer on April 10, 2012.

He wanted to know which authority of the corporation permitted installation of cellular telephone towers atop buildings and institutions. Mr. Bobby also wanted to know about the procedures being adopted by the corporation while allowing such installations.

On May 8, 2012, Mr. Sreekumar replied to him saying no file containing the issue was found at corporation office and so the application would not be considered. When Mr. Kavalam filed an appeal with the appellate authority of the corporation, he got a reply that the query did not come under the RTI Act. The reply also said the earlier reply by Mr. Sreekumar was in conformity with the law.

Allowing the appeal by Mr. Kavalam, Siby Mathew said the query was within the provisions of RTI and the official was bound to give proper reply.

The information sought was related to a normal task undertaken by the corporation, he said. Apart from punishment to Mr. Sreekumar, the commission directed the present public information officer to give all the details related to the query to the petitioner within seven days.

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