New Delhi: Bureaucrats are blocking RTI and they are not even being penalized for it.
There are files that have remained shut for years and will remain shut in the RTI office, because the babus don't want to give access to people with queries, despite the much hyped Right to Information Act. What is worse is that the Central Information Commission is not even penalizing them for it, ironically.
Documents available with CNN-IBN show it is the CIC, which is letting babus off the hook. The CIC is supposed to fine bureaucrats for failing to give information on legitimate RTI queries.
RTI Activist Shekher Singh, speaks on the issue, " There is a well known case of a particular information commissioner, who didn’t impose penalty on a particular department because they said this was their first time, but when looked at all the records, one will find that there were seven orders that we gave to the same department, and each time it was quoted as their first time."
The documents that have been received through the RTI application show that in the last two years, the CIC has ordered various government departments to provide information in nearly 7,000 cases but only 92 public information officers have been fined.
Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, says, " if the commissioner comes to the conclusion that there is no reasonable cause, then in that case he may not impose the penalty."
RTI Activist, Dev Ashish Bhattacharya says, "As per the act it is totally illegal, because no where is it mentioned in the act that CIC has been given any discretionary power to not impose the penalty, in those cases where CIC issues the award.”
The debatable issue is how much powers can the Central Information Commission exercise?
What seems to be is that the debate that will continue in time to come, but the fact remains that the babus in our country will wake up to the harsh realities of your Right to Information only when penalties will be imposed on them on a regular basis.