I want some clarifications about a few issues related to the RTI Act in the following background. In the given case, the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) of certain years were sought by the applicant. The information was first asked in November 2007. Then it was told by the concerned department of the State government in January 2008 that the said the ACR could not be provided because the Central Information Commission through its letter dated 25/09/2006 had made it clear that ACR could not be provided to any officers. Not satisfied with this answer, the concerned officer wrote a letter again to the Appealing officer under the RTI Act in the same month that since he was asking for his own ACR and that ACRs were anyway shown in cases where adverse comments were made in it, hence there could be no reason for withholding this information. No reply came out of it. Then the officer wrote to the State Information Commission (SIC) for the information. In October 2008 the SIC asked the concerned Department of the State government to provide the information immediately or to produce the valid reasons (if any) in case for noncompliance. The State government did nothing of these two and kept waiting for the next day of appearance which happened to be in December 2008. On the given date, the State government presented a paper which stated some vague reasons because of which the required information could not be given. The State Information Commission did not accept the pleas of the State government and has categorically asked it to produce the desired information the next date in January 2009. Now the concerned department asks for a certain charge @ Rs. 2 per page to furnish the required information. The issues that I want to get clarified are- 1. Does the concerned officer need to provide the fee of Rs. 2 per page when the delay has purely been on the part of the department? (Because as far as I know, if the information is not provided within the required 35 days, this clause of paying the fee gets wavered and the responsibility shifts to the department). Well the amount is not important but the sense of responsibility is certainly important. 2. What are the possible steps that can be take or shall be taken against the recalcitrant officers whose job was to provide the information and who deliberately chose to delay it? 3. Where shall the matter be approached for taking the appropriate action and fixing the responsibility?
Dr Nutan Thakur, IRDS, Lucknow
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