Saturday, April 22, 2017

Flooded with RTI queries, info panel debars applicant

The Tribune: Chandigarh: Saturday, April 22, 2017.
More than 500 applications moved under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by a ‘habitual’ Ludhiana-based activist have irked the State Information Commission (SIC) to an extent that it has directed the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, to ignore the RTI queries by the applicant, who is “running riot by filing repeated applications seeking inane information.”
Delivering an unusual order, the commission observed that RTI activism of this man had “drastically hampered” the routine work of the MC, Ludhiana, as a large number of employees and officials remained busy either in dealing with his RTI queries or to prepare replies in response to appeals filed by him to appellate authorities.
Otherwise mandated to facilitate information to RTI applicants, the commission took the decision today while hearing cases pertaining to RTI applications filed by Amarjit Singh Dhamotia of Ludhiana, who has filed more than 500 applications under the RTI Act.
While disposing of pleas filed by Dhamotia, State Information Commissioner Yashvir Mahajan observed, “The duty of the commission is to see that such blatant misuse of the RTI Act should not be allowed further and such situation needs to be appropriately dealt with to secure the faith of the public in the ‘sunshine Act’ and remove obstacles in functioning of public authority, which would eventually prevent public authority from focusing on transparency.”
The SIC further observed, “the applicant’s act of running riot by filing repeated applications seeking inane and voluminous information has become counter-productive of public interest. The commission cannot allow such fishing operations of the appellant. We see his act as misuse rather abuse of the RTI Act with unsavoury motives. The commission accordingly disposes of all appeals in hand in terms of Section 7 (9) of the RTI Act and allows the public authority to ignore his applications in future.”
It was held that the RTI applications filed by the person had drastically hampered the routine work of the MC, Ludhiana. The SIC said many MC officers were all day busy in dealing with his RTI queries, whereas other officers had to visit the SIC to file reply in the commission on the appeals filed by Dhamotia.