RTI activists take KIC chief to task

RTI activists take KIC chief to task

Chief Information Commissioner A K M Nayak was on Friday cornered by RTI activists, who levelled a series of allegations against him and the functioning of the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC).

The public outrage was witnessed after an alleged attempt by an RTI applicant, Rajiv Kulkarni, to immolate himself in front of a KIC court on Nrupatunga Road near Mythic Society, recently. He had reportedly come all the way from Bidar. But his hopes were dashed when he did not get any relief from the KIC.

Advocate S Umapathi, who led a group of angry RTI activists, nearly pushed Nayak to the wall, counting his faults. “You come to the court not before 12.30 pm, whereas the timing scheduled is 11 am. You hear cases till 1.30 pm or 2 pm, and not after lunch. You earn Rs 1.5 lakh, apart from perks and other allowances, not to spend one-and-a-half hour in the Commission,” alleged Umapathi.

He further alleged that in the last week, Nayak had heard only 79 cases, whereas the sessions court and the High Court hear at least 100 cases, a day.

When Nayak tried to assert by stating that the KIC was short-staffed, the RTI activists were not ready to buy his argument.

Lame excuses

Another activist, Narasimha Murthy, said, “These are lame excuses. The fact is you are lenient to Public Information Officers (PIOs). They have stopped taking you seriously. They either remain absent or send their peons who know nothing. If you had penalised them, they would have taken you seriously.”

Activist Veeresh Belur also pointed out the long adjournment. “You are disappointing applicants through long adjournment of cases. What is the point in adjourning cases for six to eight months? Please give early hearing and make sure that maximum cases are heard every day to reduce the number of pending cases,” said Belur. The commissioner agreed to the activists’ demands and said he would make the PIOs accountable and furnish information to applicants.

A senior KIC officer said imposing penalty will only result in more people appealing before the higher courts, which would pass strictures against the KIC orders. Cases are heard only in the first half, because orders passed in the first half can be drafted and corrected in the second half. He said the RTI does not provide for any penalty on the First Appellant Authority (FAA). “If the FAAs do their job well, then the case would not line up before the KIC,” he added.

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