Information Commission denies Information to applicant, alleges Chairman RTI Foundation

Srinagar, Nov 4, CNS:Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission, which is the RTI Head for the state and decides the second appeals and Complaints under J&K RTI Act 2009 is itself caught on back foot.

    Chairman J&K RTI Foundation, Er. Irfan Banka, filed three applications in the commission since July this year and is disappointed over the lackadaisical approach of the Commission towards RTI.

    An application asking for information under RTI vide No. JKRTIF/RA/2017/110 Dated: 31/07/2017 was filed in J&K SIC by Er. Irfan Banka on 01-08-2017 through India Post which has not been replied till now.   

    According to the Section 7(2) of the J&K RTI Act 2009, if the PIO fails to give you a decision notice, then this is regarded as a “deemed refusal”.

    “In case of many other Public Authorities including Department of Education and Department of Health Services we have met deemed refusal, but when the Commission does it, it is a grave situation”, says Er. Irfan Banka, Chairman J&K RTI Foundation.

     Another application vide number JKRTIF/RA/2017/114 Dated September 15, 2017 was also filed in the Commission on 15/09/2017 through India Post which was received by the PIO of the Commission on 20.09.2017, but the same was not entertained by the Commission on the grounds that it was dispatched with an old postal order of Rs 10.

    Er. Irfan Banka further said that: “The information sought was required for a national report on RTI published by TII on 12th of October 2017, but unlike other Public Authorities the Commission did not inform us and rejected the application. I filed the same RTI application again with a new postal order enclosed. The intention this time was to see why the Commission being the highest appellate authority under RTI rejected the application without asking for clearing discrepancies? Rejecting the application on these flimsy grounds without assisting the applicant is a technical deny of information. Normally, the PIO cannot reject application as such, he/she must send intimation to the applicant for clearing discrepancies and assist him in this regard and then exclude the intervening time from the 30 day time limit for providing information”.

   J&K State Information Commission this time has to enquire into the complaint against itself under Section 15(1)(b) of the J&K RTI Act 2009 which says “… it shall be the duty of the State Information Commission to receive and enquire into a complaint from any person who has been refused access to any information requested under the Act”. Apart from imposing penalties or recommending disciplinary action against a PIO, the J&K State Information Commission can give recommendations to public authorities to improve compliance with the provisions of the J&K RTI Act.

J&K RTI Foundation has been time and again hailing the role of Chief Information Commissioner Khursheed Ahmad Ganaie for the promotion of RTI in the state.

   “We have seen for the first time that the Commission is conducting round tables and seminars on RTI with enthusiasm on regular basis where RTI activists are open to share their views. Orders and notification of Chief Information Commissioner for the promotion of RTI are quite appreciable,” he said.  (CNS)