CIC Summons PUDA information officer for not accepting RTI plea.
The Right To Information (RTI) Act gives any citizen of India to acquire information from any public officer but with sufficient reason of course. Sometimes the information that is requested (by whomever) and a special head note is attached stating whether the Courts disallow it if that information release jeopardizes someone’s or the government’s security; then the request for the information can justifiably be rejected or the information may be released after certain personal information is redacted (blacked out).
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Legal Issues Involved:
A citizen of India may contest unfair practice of a public officer if the information requested proves misconduct. Such information which implicates anyone in criminal activity is crucial evidence and destruction or avoiding of such evidence is illegal. Section 6 of the RTI Act was violated by a public officer and a higher authority has summoned answer to why the rejection. Section 7 of the RTI Act clarifies rejection to request may be made if Section 8 and 9 of the Act are violated.
News Article Facts:
The PUDA (Punjab Urban Development Authority) was summoned by the Punjab CIC (Chief Information Commissioner) for refusing an application by Surinder Mittal in December 2019 about compensatory land allotted to cricketer Harbhajan Singh which he received under a government scheme. Surinder Mittal’s complaint moved the CIC to request a justified reply (in person) by the PIO (public information officer) and if he cannot appear for any reason; send Assistant PIO with a written reply authorized by the PIO.
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Legal Stand Point:
Section 6 of the RTI Act clearly states the protocol by the citizen on how to obtain information legally and Section 7 states the PIO’s protocol guidelines. Section 8 and 9 state the reasons of the rejection or allowance for release of the requested information and in this case; only one person followed the proper protocol: Surinder Mittal. There is nothing wrong with Harbajan Singh’s allottment of land as the Government has many schemes for Urban Development (like Omaxe and Eco City beside PGI, Chandigarh) up for auction but unfortunately, this scheme was for compensatory land allotments; which is a whole other category.
Government Schemes that allot Compensatory Land are mostly grants issued for the needy to help prevent the up rise of poverty. Why the government owes Harbajan Singh any compensation is highly suspicious; thus the viable complaint that was raised by Surinder Mittal. The PIO refusing to accept the RTI application was illegal and has created void that the CIC is now filling. Merely accepting the application and later denying release of the information would have made the PIO look unsuspicious but a lie always gets exposed sooner or later.
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For case specific advice/details contact TOP/BEST/EXPERT RTI Lawyers in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali Tri-City area. Zirakpur Kharar Derabassi Mullanpur.
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