The State Information Commission (SIC) has penalized various Public Information Officers (PIOs) in recent years for failing to provide information to information seekers under RTI Act 2009.
In 2012-13, eight PIOs were penalized under the Act for failing to adhere with this transparency law.
The SIC found reasonable cause for imposing penalty in seven cases against eight public information officers during the year 2012-13 with an overall penalty amount of Rs. 1,44,200. The penalty proceedings were dropped in 61 cases during the same period. According to information available on SIC website, in the case of Dineshwar Singh Jamwal V/s PIO DC Jammu, Rs 12750 were imposed as fine on the PIO for failing to adhere to RTI.
In case of Abdul Hamid Paul versus PIO ACD, Shopian, the Commission imposed Rs 25000 fine on the PIO.
In 2009-10 and 2010-11, there was no case where any PIO was penalized for failing to adhere to the RTI Act. However, in 2012-2013, in five cases, the SIC imposed fine on PIOs and in 2013-14, the number of cases in which fine was imposed remained seven.
In 2011-12, there was also one case before the SIC in which compensation was awarded to the information seeker.
"The awareness about this public weapon (RTI) against corruption is increasing every year. In 2009-10, the public authorities received 741 RTI requests. The number of RTI requests in 2010-11 remained 3110, 12136 requests were received in 2011-12, and in 2012-13 the number of requests received by public authorities remained 27619," said an official.
"The transparency law Right to Information Act enacted on March 20, 2009 has managed to leave its imprint in this short period, becoming a new weapon in the hands of people," said Raja Muzafar, a senior RTI activist.
"Information accessed through the RTI Act has also played a key role in unearthing scams such as those in the NREGA, illegal allotments of government projects and backdoor appointments," he added, while hailing the role and efforts of SIC for delivering justice in cases which came before it.