Information panel takes SSB to task

Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission Friday slapped a penalty of Rs 10000 on former Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) of Services Selection Board (SSB) for denying information under the JK RTI Act.
Information panel takes SSB to task
Representational Photo

Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission Friday slapped a penalty of Rs 10000 on former Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) of Services Selection Board (SSB) for denying information under the JK RTI Act.

In his judgment, Chief Information Commissioner GR Sufi held Syed Altaf, ex- APIO of SSB, responsible for delay in providing assistance to Public Information Officer of the recruitment body which resulted in denial of information to the applicant within the stipulated time.

"The APIO has not proved before the Commission that he had acted reasonably and diligently. He has also not proved anything before this Commission to establish that for the default committed, he had any reasonable cause. Taking an overall view, the Commission hereby imposes a minimum penalty of Rs 10000 on the APIO," the order reads.

According to the judgment, Pradeep Kumar Sharma had filed an RTI application before the PIO on April 24, 2014, seeking some information.

The PIO, while invoking Section 5(4)(5) of the law, had sought assistance of the APIO for providing information to the applicant.

Justifying his decision to penalize the APIO, the CIC says in the order: "Any officer / official whose assistance is sought under Section 5(4)(5) is under mandatory duty to render all his assistance to the PIO seeking his or her assistance and for the purpose of any contravention of provisions of the Act, such officer shall be treated as PIO and is liable to be proceeded under penalty proceedings."

The Commission held that no reasonable cause was advanced by the APIO in his defence.

"Taking all these facts on record, the Commission holds that there was no reasonable cause advanced by APIO which could have justified the cause of delay in providing assistance to the PIO," the ruling reads.

"The only defence of APIO is that he marked this communication to his concerned Record Keeper and in the month of June 2014 and he was transferred to J&K State Vigilance Commission. From his reply, it is quite clear that he had not given serious thought and consideration to the provisions of the J&K State RTI Act, 2009. It is quite clear that before his transfer from SSRB, Altaf has failed to ensure that he gets the relevant file and forwards information to the PIO, so that same could have been provided to the information seeker," the order states.

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