KARNATAKA

HDMC, department provide differing replies on same issue

Girish Pattanashetti

Despite KIC rap, corporation yet to provide information



RTI applicant had sought information on inclusion of penalty clause in the draft citizen charter

HDMC was told to be prompt in dealing with each request for information received under RTI



HUBLI: The Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC) and the Urban Development Department (UDD) have given contradictory replies to the same issue.

While the HDMC, in a statement submitted before the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC), said that it had sent a letter to the UDD seeking its opinion on the issue of including the “penalty clause” in the draft of the citizen charter, the Public Information Officer of the UDD replied to a Right to Information (RTI) Act applicant that the department had not received any such letter from the municipal corporation on the issue.

Cautioned



Despite a word of caution by the KIC, HDMC is yet to provide supply a copy of the information sought by the petitioner.

The petitioner, M.C. Sindhur, a medical practitioner, filed an RTI application on September 3, 2009 seeking a copy of the draft document incorporating the penalty clause in the citizen charter prepared by the HDMC, the present status and steps taken by the corporation to implement the penalty clause till September 2009 and also copies of any letters sent to the civic body by the Urban Development Department in this regard.

It may be recalled that the HDMC had agreed to the condition of formulating the citizen charter and including the penalty clause while applying for ISO 9001 certification, which it received afterwards.

After Dr. Sindhur failed to receive a reply from the corporation, he moved the KIC and the HDMC sent a letter to the commission on January 22, 2010 stating that the required information had been provided to the petitioner and a copy of it had been sent to the commission.

However, Dr. Sindhur who did not receive the required information again filed a plea before the KIC on February 1, 2010. During the hearing on February 5, State Chief Information Commissioner K.K. Misra cautioned the HDMC to be prompt and careful in dealing with each and every request for information received under the RTI Act.

The commission also directed the HDMC to send a suitable reply to the petitioner within 15 days of the receipt of the order.

The commission did not buy the argument of the HDMC that it had replied to all the subsequent applications filed under the RTI Act by the petitioner. It also cautioned the HDMC against taking the applications filed under RTI Act lightly. But Dr. Sindhur has not received a copy of the draft document incorporating the penalty clause in the citizen charter even after more than a month of the passing of the order.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sindhur filed applications under the RTI (dated November 25 and 29, 2009) seeking information on the “correspondence” between the HDMC and the UDD on the issue and the action taken by the department.

To his surprise, Dr. Sindhur received a reply (dated March 2, 2010) from the Public Information Officer of the department and Under Secretary M.R. Maheshkumar, stating that the department had not received the reported letter from HDMC (No. HDMC 200301005 dated February 2, 2009); and since it had not received any letter, no new file had been opened on the issue.

Irked by the evasive attitude of the authorities of government agencies, Dr. Sindhur plans to again approach the KIC.