Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Chandigarh

Patient (RTI Act) gasping for breath because of non-serious doctors (CPIOs) in Chandigarh

Yadavindra S Rana | January 17, 2021 04:36 PM

CHANDIGARH: Right to Information Act (RTI) is gasping for breath in Chandigarh
Administration because of non-serious CPIOs. There are scores of cases where either CPIOs do
not take the Act seriously or finding ways to escape from providing information to the
applicants. Here is a classical example of CPIOs in dealing with the RTI application. Have you
ever heard that a court has passed an order without hearing the case? Here is a classical
example.
The reporter has sought copies of pages of the register maintained by the Chandigarh
Estate Office in respect of completion certificates vide application dated October 13, 2020.
When no action was taken by the CPIO concerned, he preferred an appeal against the action of
the CPIO before the First Appellate authority vide application dated November 26, 2020. As said
silence is also itself a question, the first appellate kept silent. The reporter has filed another
appeal before the Second Appellate on December 31, 2020.
On the same CPIO suddenly woke up from his slumber, informed the reporter vide his
Endst. No 392889 the SDO (B), Chandigarh, the application has been sent to the Chandigarh
Housing Board to supply information in respect of Point No 2. Whereas the Point No 1 is
concerned the information is not available with his office (while he is the competent authority
to issue completion certificates).
The CPIO, Chandigarh Housing Board swung into action and delivered a letter No 65
dated January 1, 2021 stating, “such information has not been maintained in a compiled form
and not compiled so far and compilation of the same tantamount to creation of documents,
hence it is not covered under RTI Act.”
The appellant was surprised to find that while first and second appellate authorities did
not hear his appeals, CPIOs delivered these letters. Notably, a letter dated January 11, 2021
from the first appellate authority was delivered at applicant’s residence on January 15, 2021
stating the same context which was convened by the CPIO, Estate Office vide his letter of
December 31, 2020.
Notably, CPIO, Chandigarh Housing Board, who had earlier refused to supply
information on Point No 2, now has delivered a letter Endst 59 dated January 12, 2021 received
on January 17, 2021 providing information which was denied earlier. An RTI activist sought
information from the Registrar, Cooperative Deparetment, Chandigarh regarding a cooperative
housing society has been denied on the plea that it is not a “public authority” but the registrar
continues to appoint administrator in housing societies. Similarly, Superintendent, Vigilance,
Chandigarh Administration informed an information seeker that the allegations leveled in the
application were “inquired and filed.” The applicant asked for a copy of the inquiry under RTI
Act. He was told by the same official that “no vigilance enquiry was conducted.” Hundred of RTI
applications dealt with in a casual manner. Even decisions of appellate authorities and chief
information commission were not honoured.
It was found that estate office, police and cooperative departments topped the list of
departments lacking in compliance with RTI applications. According to the official data, the UT
Administration has received over 14, 000 RTI applications in 2013-14 compared to 12, 942 in

2011-12 and 10.404 in 2010. However, only a small percentage of these actually come up
hearing owing to various reasons.
RTI Act more of a fairy tale than an incredible tool that has recently passed out in
third division (scoring 38 marks out of 100) in the Transparency International’s latest corruption
perception index. Casual action from the CPIOs turns the RTI Act more of a fairy tale than
incredible tool to empower the public has become a convenient tool for the CPIOs to ‘brush
aside’ all relevant information by keeping silence. Anyhow, silence is itself a question to be
answered.

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