Friday, February 03, 2017

Public Information Officer flouts IC order, returns amount : By Ganji Srinivasa Rao

The Hans India‎‎‎‎: Hyderabad: Friday, February 03, 2017.
In what could be described a blatant violation of the order issued by the Information Commissioner, the PIO of Dhone Nagar Panchayat has refused not only to divulge information on the pretext that it was third party information, but refunded the amount paid for the same.
S Ramakrishna Reddy, sensing that there were large-scale irregularities in sanctioning plans for the buildings in the limits of Dhone Nagar Panchayat, appealed to the public information officer (PIO) for information about the plans issued to the 89 buildings in the town limits.
He stated, in his RTI application, that the information could be given in CD, DVD or Floppy. However, 28 days after filing application, the PIO instructed the RTI applicant that he needed to pay Rs 44,500 at the rate of Rs 500 per blueprint either in cash or demand draft.
Aggrieved by the demand for huge amount, the RTI applicant preferred first appeal. The first appeal authority (FAA) did not pass any order.  Now the RTI applicant approached the State Information Commissioner as part of the second appeal on October 26, 2016.
The State Information Commissioner, P Vijaya Babu, who received the appeal sent notices to the PIO and the FAA of Dhone Nagar Panchayat to be present on December 15, 2016.
However, after hearing both the parties, Information Commissioner Vijaya Babu ruled that the applicant should pay the amount to secure information from the PIO. The SIC did not entertain objections by the RTI applicant.
The RTI applicant paid Rs 44,500 by way of demand draft for the information. Surprisingly, the PIO took a different stand this time to refuse the information stating that the information was pertaining to the third party and after the consent of the third party only he could provide information.
He returned the demand draft stating that the final amount would be fixed later after obtaining permission of the third party.  What PIO needed to be sensitised is that the building plan is a public document and it should be placed in the public domain.