The response from the officials is not encouraging, says Commissioner
The Andhra Pradesh Information Commission has observed that awareness on Right to Information Act among common man was high. The response from the officials was however, not encouraging. The misuse of the RTI Act also came to the notice of Commission, which is contemplating taking suitable action in this regard. Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, Information Commissioner P. Vijay Babu said, “We have noticed that many officials were not providing information sought by the appellants.” In some cases, they were simply washing off their hands saying the information was not available.
It would also amount to rejection of the application under Section 7(2) of the RTI Act, he said, and asserted that stringent action would be taken against the officials who neglected the RTI Act.
As per Section 21(b) of RTI Act, a fine of Rs.250 to Rs.25,000 per day could be levied against them; this apart, a compensation up to Rs.2 lakh could also be levied; the fines and compensation would not be paid by the government in behalf of the official, but would be recovered from salaries of the officials concerned, he said.
It was observed that many Public Information Officers (PIOs) were not attending to the hearing called for by the Commission. This indifference in approach would not be tolerated any more, he said.
Other side of a coin has a sordid tale to tell. Some people and organisations, under the garb of RTI activists, were misusing the Act. Either they were bulldozing the officials or seeking information with an eye on public properties. For instance, the information regarding endowments lands etc. were passed on to the land sharks by the pseudo RTI activists, he said.
The Information Commissioner said that the commission was working on war footing to clear the pending cases before it. The Commission received close to 25,000 petitions, including appeals and complaints, as on date. Of this, 10,869 petitions were cleared. The petitions have piled up over last six years, he added.