The State Information Commission has imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 on the Chief Medical Officer Bandipora for "intentionally" and "deliberately" denying complete information to the RTI applicant and not cooperating with the commission.
"Though the PIO deserves imposition of maximum penalty of Rs 25,000 for intentionally and deliberately denying complete information to the complainant and her wilful non-cooperation with the State Information Commission in the 2nd appeal as well as in the present complaint, but keeping in view the fact that the PIO is retiring on superannuation from service shortly, the Commission taking a lenient view and imposes a penalty of Rs 10,000 upon CMO Bandipora.
This amount shall be recoverable from her salary payable for the month of March, 2019," reads the order of the State Information Commission.
The complainant (then applicant/ appellant) had soughtinformation from the CMO regarding engagement and subsequent regularisation ofvarious persons in the Health Department of District Bandipora. Though some ofthe information was provided by the PIO to the then appellant at the 2nd Appealstage, but a part of the information was not provided.
The State Information Commissioner, Ashraf Mir, disposed ofthe appeal on 22th January last year with the direction to the PIO/ CMOBandipora to provide complete information to the appellant within five days."In case the PIO fails to provide the information to the appellant within thespecified time, the appellant shall be at liberty to file a complaint beforethe commission under section 15 of J&K RTI Act, 2009," the order read.
The Director Health Services, Kashmir, was also directed bythe SIC to ensure that the information is provided by the PIO/ CMO Bandipora/Baramulla to the appellant within the specified period, "and if they failed,administrative action as warranted under rules may be taken against the PIO."
After the directive, the BMO Bandipora appeared before theSIC on behalf of the PIO/CMO Bandipora and assured that the remaininginformation will be provided to the appellant with a period of five days.
The complaint filed by the complainant was heard by the SICon different dates.
On June last year the PIO/CMO Bandipora attended the hearingin the commission. She said that the onus of providing incomplete informationto the complainant rests on the then In-charge CMO, Dr, Bashir Ahmad Chalkoo(now CMO Baramulla).
Accordingly, a show cause notice was issued by the SIC to DrBashir directing him to explain as to why penalties as envisaged under section17 of the J&K RTI Act, 2009 shall not be imposed on him for furnishingincomplete and misleading information to the complainant.
On 06-07-2018, Dr. Bashir Ahmad Chalkoo, CMO Baramullaappeared before the SIC and also filed a written statement on 25th of June 2018where under he submitted that he had been given additional charge of the postof CMO Bandipora on 06-12-2017 as a result of attachment of Dr. Bilquees.
He further submitted, "Dr. Bilquees obtained a stay orderfrom the High Court on her attachment and resultantly refused to hand-over thecharge and records to him. He further submitted that though he appeared beforethe SIC on 27-12-2017 as I/C CMO Bandipora and assured that the balanceinformation would be provided to the then appellant within ten days but hecould not fulfil his assurance as Dr. Bilquees refused to hand over the recordsand the charge of the post to him.
The SIC issued a show cause notice to Dr Bilquees CMOBandipora to explain why penalty proceedings shall not be initiated against herfor her failure to provide complete information to the complainant as directedas SIC.
SIC adjourned the hearing with the observation that thecommission is pained to note that the PIO/CMO Bandipora has shown scant regardfor the direction given by this commission.
"Her approach is very casual, non-serious and dismissiveabout the provisions of the J&K RTI Act."
The PIO/CMO Bandipora was directed to file a compliancereport before the SIC by or before the next date of hearing.
But PIO/CMO didn't attend the hearings, and the commissionafter finding the behaviour of the CMO as non-serious disposed of the case witha direction.
The commission while disposing of the case, said, "TheCommission granted enough opportunities to Dr Bilquees to provide balanceinformation to the complainant and to explain her failure in furnishingcomplete and correct information to the complainant."
The order further reads, "She didn't even trouble herself toattend the hearing before the SIC inspite of notices issued. Such behaviour onthe part of a PIO is unacceptable as being in violation of the provisions ofJ&K Right to Information Act, 2009."
Keeping in view all the circumstances the commission is ofthe opinion that this is a fit case for imposition of penalty upon thedefaulting PIO.