Monday, May 28, 2018

Govt officials lethargic in preserving information: SIC

Oherald: Panjim: Monday, May 28, 2018.
Expressing concern over the lethargic attitude of government authorities in preserving information, The State Information Commission (SIC) has questioned the casual approach of the First Appellate Authority in handling Right To Information (RTI) related matters.
Addressing the 4th RTI Convention on Sunday, State Information Commissioner Advocate Pratima Vernekar highlighted the pitiable state in which the precious information is handled by the authorities concerned.
 “Public authorities are not serious in systematically preserving the information. In one case it was found that the records were dumped in the pump house while in another case it was reported that during the shifting of the offices the documents were misplaced and are not traceable,” she said citing instances that came to light during hearing of the cases before the Commission.
She cited an instance wherein commands to subordinates are given verbally instead of written orders, a move that obstructs bringing transparency in the system.
Pointing at the mutilated condition in which documents are preserved in certain offices, Vernekar insisted at preserving such information by adopting modern techniques like micro filming, etc.
It is also the grievance of the Public Information Officers that they hold simultaneous charges of 3-4 departments and as such, they are not able to deliver their duties under the RTI Act ‘with utmost sincerity and case.’  Vernekar claimed the Commission found this issue genuine as it is supported by documentary evidence.
“Besides it is also observed by the Commission that the First Appellate Authority acts in purely mechanical manner and gives decisions without applying his/her mind. Sometimes they do not even pass orders. This casual approach also requires to be addressed. As per the Act, the senior officer has to be appointed as the First Appellate Authority. However, in some cases it is seen that the chairman of the public authorities are appointed as the First Appellate Authority, which is contrary to the provisions of the Act,” she added.