RTI: Maharashtra SIC imposes penalty on PIO of Urban Dev Dept

Delaying info costs state dept dear

Viju B I TNN


Mumbai: The state information commission (SIC) has imposed a penalty on the public information officer (PIO) of the urban development department for delaying information to an RTI activist who had sought the copy of an inquiry report on the Laxmi Chhaya tragedy.
Kandivli resident S K Nangia had filed a query under the RTI Act in March this year asking for a copy of the report drafted by a state-appointed committee that investigated the building collapse in Borivli. The seven-storey building came down like a pack of cards on July 19 last year killing 30 residents and injuring 17 others.

“I had filed the RTI query in public interest. But the babus withheld the information for about six months,’’ Nangia said, adding that he had filed the RTI query with the BMC’s building proposal department.

The civic officials initially said that the files were with the state urban development department. “But I informed the officials that under the RTI Act, they were supposed to forward it to the department concerned,’’ Nangia said. He then filed an appeal after he did not get any response for three months.

But to his dismay, the urban development officials said that they had forwarded it back to the municipal commissioner’s office. “The civic chief ’s office then forwarded it to the city engineer with whom I had filed my original RTI query,’’ Nangia said.

“This shuttling continued for a few more months and I received six intimations from various authorities about the pending status of my query,’’ he said. Finally, Nangia filed a complaint with the SIC under section 18 of the RTI Act in August.

State chief information commissioner Suresh Joshi, after hearing the case, observed that the department should have provided the information in one month’s time. “The manner in which the appellate authority of the urban development dealt with the query was appalling. When the query was forwarded to the urban development department,
there was no reason for the appeal to be sent back to the BMC.

This shows negligence, carelessness and tendency to shirk work on the part of the appellate officer… who had to be reprimanded about the serious lapses in discharge of his duties,’’ Joshi, in his order, said.

The SIC also directed the municipal commissioner to inquire into the lapses by the PIO of the City Engineer’s office that forwarded the RTI query to the urban development after 26 days.

The PIO of the urban development department, Rajesh Govil, has also been penalised for withholding information for a delay of more than 100 days.

Neelam Raaj | TNN

new-picture-75

Info law helps Dadar man get refund for delayed courier

Viju B I TNN

Mumbai: What if an important document couriered to you through the postal service reached you after a day’s delay? You would have either cursed the system or may not even have noticed it as most courier parcels hardly reach their destinations on time.

But Dadar resident Milind S Mulay decided not to take it lying down. Mulay used the Right to Information (RTI) Act to get a refund when two articles he had sent through speed post reached their destination after a day’s delay. He had sent two couriers to Thane and Kalyan from the Shivaji Park post office at Dadar.

“I had sought some information from the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) and from the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) under the RTI Act. But when I realised that the couriers had reached late, I decided to check what went wrong,’’ Mulay said.

He first did some leg-work and found out from the website of the Indian Postal Service about the rules and regulations in case of delay. “I found that the website also had an option by which one can track the path of the courier. But the website had not updated the path of my courier. So I went to the post office’s west division headquarters and asked them to give a copy of the delivery slips,’’ he said.

The receipts showed that the parcels were not delivered on time. Mulay then wrote a letter to the post office asking for compensation for the delay. “The officials at the post office did not bother to answer my letter and I filed an RTI query,’’ he said.

He sought information on the progress report of his complaint and what action has been taken on it. “I asked why there has been a delay in providing me the compensation as per the rulebook,’’ he said.

The senior superintendent of the Mumbai city west division responded within 10 days and refunded the entire amount—Rs 50—for the delay. “He also said this was in accordance with the money-back guarantee scheme. The delay occurred due to a service fault and a detailed report has been sought from the respective section,’’ Mulay said.

Mulay said he was prompted to file an RTI query as numerous people in the country faced this problem. “More than the financial part, I wanted to show that the RTI Act can be put to everyday use and cut the red tape in the government,’’ he said.

Though Mulay was happy with the positive impact of the RTI Act, he would have been happier if the official had added a line of apology to the RTI response. “But maybe that is asking for too much,’’ he said.
viju.balanarayanan@timesgroup.com

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