RTI rap for two officers

Rs 10,000 salary cut for delay in giving information  

By Nidhi Jamwal
Published: Sunday 31 January 2010

Siyaram singa padvi, a poor tribal of Nandurbar district in Maharashtra, has managed to get two government officials fined. The officers with the public works department had delayed giving information sought by Padvi under the Right to Information (rti) Act.

On December 24, Maharashtra state information commissioner (sic), S V Joshi, slapped a fine of Rs 9,750 on the two information officers after Padvi’s counsel, Yogini Khanolkar, proved that officials deliberately delayed giving information. In his order, Joshi said the officers delayed giving information by 39 days. The fine money will be deducted from the salaries of the two officers.

Padvi had asked for details regarding a 1.5 km road project taken up under the national rural employment guarantee act (nrega) to connect two hamlets in his village in Akkalkuva tehsil. The department had not displayed the project details and information about labourers engaged at the work site as mandated under nrega. The department told Padvi who has never attended school to check the muster roll details on the Internet. Padvi decided to file an appeal with the sic in Nandurbar. He was promised information by July 27, 2009. When he did not get the information, he filed the second appeal with the sic in Aurangabad.

“The information was not given to Padvi because there is corruption in the department. We collected all details proving corruption and gave it to the sic,” said Khanolkar, Padvi’s lawyer who works for Narmada Bachao Andolan (nba). A social audit by nba on Dec 16 had shown that road expenditure figures were inflated.

Padvi is one of few lucky applicants who got a favourable order. A central government sponsored report released in June 2009 says penalty for delay in giving information is levied in only 1.7 per cent cases (see ‘Not enough information’, Down To Earth, November 30, 2009). But nba activists said Padvi should have been compensated for the harassment and mental torture he underwent.

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