Information Commission penalises its own official

There is nothing new in the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) imposing penalty on public information officers (PIO) of government departments for not furnishing information and giving incomplete or misleading details in response to Right to Information (RTI) Act applications.

But, in the last two days, the KIC created a record by imposing penalty on its own PIO B Narayanaswamy for not divulging information to an applicant seeking details from him under the RTI Act. The PIO will have to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 each in four cases.

Narayanaswamy now serves in the State Election Commission. When he was the PIO of the KIC, he used to allegedly return the second appeal petitions and complaints filed by the RTI applicants across the State. The RTI applicants accused him of citing silly reasons for turning down their petitions and complaints. In some cases, the PIO returned the second appeal petitions because it did not have the photocopies of the Indian Postal Order (IPO).

Hearing

When these cases came to the notice of an RTI activist N Vikram Simha, he filed an RTI application in the KIC, seeking details of the second appeals and complaints sent back to the complainants, name of the appellants and reasons for rejecting their plea.

“Last year on June 14, I had filed three RTI applications seeking details from the KIC PIO. When it did not evoke any response even after 35 days, I filed first appeal. But again, there was no reply. Finally, I went for second appeal under Section 18 (1) (B) and (C) of the RTI Act,” said Simha.

On January 23, 2013, the KIC began hearing the matter. The KIC PIO Kathyayini told the court that Narayanaswamy was the PIO when the application was filed.

On Tuesday, Information Commissioner P Rama Naik summoned Narayanaswamy, who came out with an excuse that he was on leave when the RTI applications were filed. On verification, his statement turned out to be false. Taking serious cognisance of the lapse, Naik imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000 each in the three cases. His department was asked to recover Rs 15,000 from his salary.

It is learnt that on Monday too, an Information Commissioner imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000 in a similar case.

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