Friday, July 2, 2010

Information officers not well conversant with RTI Act

'Information officers not well conversant with RTI Act'

Raakhi Jagga

Posted: Fri Jul 02 2010, 00:16 hrs

Five years have passed since the Right to Information (RTI) Act was implemented in the country, but public information officers (PIOs) and assistant public information officers (APIOs) are not well conversant with it yet, feels State Information Commissioner Darbara Singh Kahlon. In Ferozepur to conduct an awareness seminar for PIOs and APIOs on Wednesday, Kahlon said these officials were in the habit of taking things for granted and hence failed to provide information within the scheduled 30 days.

"A total of 136 PIOs have been fined between April 2005 and December 2009 for not providing information to the public. At the same time, a total of 250 people have been provided compensation by the commission from various departments as they failed to give information on time," Kahlon told The Indian Express.

He added: "Looking at the poor awareness levels about the RTI Act among the PIOs and APIOs, I decided to conduct awareness seminars and have so far visited 14 districts. I will cover the entire state."

Kahlon said the officers must be sincere while dealing with applications and their responsibility did not end with their transfer or retirement. In case there is any lapse in providing information, the matter is referred to the same officer and not his or her successor.

During the seminar, PIOs complained that applicants from below poverty line (BPL) families often entered into arguments over the payment of photocopy charges, but since the officers don't know the rules properly they cannot handle the situation. "Such confusions need to be cleared. For BPL families, the only exemption is the application form fee. They have to bear the rest of the expenses. These include photocopy charges," said Kahlon.


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The RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 11 May 2005, by the Raj Sabha (Upper House) on 12 May 2005 and received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Parts of the Act came into force upon Presidential assent, but the Act came fully into force on 12 October 2005, 120 days after Presidential assent.

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