The Karnataka Information Commission has imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on the Public Information Officer of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited, for not furnishing information sought by a City-based Right to Information (RTI) activist.
The activist, T Narasimha Murthy, had sought information on March 22, 2012, about the procurement and the quality of sand by BMRCL for the construction of ‘Namma Metro’.
Instead of complying with the query, the officer, U A Vasanth Rao, on April 11, 2012, merely stated that sand is procured by the contractor and not by the BMRCL. He added that the BMRCL only inspected the sand quarry and approved the supply for the designated quarry.
When the appeal to the first appellate went in vain, Murthy moved the second appeal to the Commission which issued a summons to both the parties to appear before the Commission on January 10, 2013. When Rao failed to appear on the appointed day, the Commission directed him to furnish the required information free of cost within 30 days.
The Commission also issued a showcause notice asking why the information was not provided even after a lapse of nine months and why a penalty of Rs 25,000 should not be imposed on Rao under Section 20(1) of the RTI Act.
In the next hearing, however, Rao in a letter dated April 11, 2012, stated that he has provided the information for all three items in person to the appellant’s representative and received the representative’s signature for having received the information.
The respondent’s representative, however, failed to produce the authorisation letter before the Commission, which offered Rao another chance to offer his explanation for the showcause notice along with a direction to produce the ward register.
But, on May 17, 2013, the Commission, finding that neither Rao nor his representative were present before the Commission, observed that it was a fit case to impose a fine and directed Rao to pay a penalty of Rs 5,000 as per Section 20 (1) of RTI Act 2005. “U A Vasantha Rao is directed to pay this amount in one lump sum or in two monthly installments of Rs 2,500 each,” the Court ordered.
The Commission, which pronounced the order in the open court, has directed that the money be deducted from Rao’s salary for the months of May and June 2013. The matter has been adjourned to July 11, 2013.