College fined for denying info under RTI

Taking the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) casually proved costly for the principal of Basaveshwara Engineering College, Bagalkot, who has been ordered to pay a penalty of Rs 15,000 for denying information to an RTI applicant.

As the college receives government aid, it has to abide by the rules followed by any government college and also have a similar fee structure.

Two years ago, Umapathi, a resident of Bangalore, had filed an RTI application seeking some information from the college management, but it was not provided to him. The management did not entertain the application saying the institution did not come under ambit of the RTI Act.

Later, Umapathi approached the KIC. While hearing the case, Information Commissioner M R Pujar ruled that the college be brought under the RTI Act, as it enjoyed government aid and other benefits.

In his next order passed on December 2, 2013, Pujar directed the college principal Dr R N Herakal to provide information if there was no High Court stay on its show-cause notice dated December 14, 2012. But the principal did not comply with the order.

Orders overlooked

On March 11, when the matter was heard again, the commissioner found that the principal had overlooked his orders.

Pujar ruled, “The respondent had not filed his written application for the show-cause notice issued against him on December 14, 2012, though three opportunities were given to him. Hence, it is treated that he (principal) has no explanation to offer for the show-cause notice and the commission has come to the conclusion that it is a fit case to impose penalty.”

The commission imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 on Herakal and directed him to pay the amount lump sum or in three installments of Rs 5,000 per month to the government.
He also directed him to pay a compensation of Rs 1,000 to Umapathi “for the loss and other detriments suffered by the petitioner.”

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