KIC fines revenue under-secy for not giving info on RTI plea

The Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) has fined the Under-Secretary for Revenue, Umadevi, Rs 5,000 for not furnishing information on what the State government has done to protect public land in accordance with a direction by the Supreme Court.

The penalty was imposed on December 3 but the order was uploaded on the KIC website only recently.

The case is about an RTI application by Kalidas Reddy who had sought information on the action taken by the government to protect government land.

A division bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra, had directed the chief secretaries of all states, including Karnataka, to take steps to retain and protect public land such as gomala,
playgrounds, open land for holding cultural events in villages, water bodies, hillocks and canals for community purposes, on a petition filed by one Jaspal Singh.

It gave a set of directions to all states and directed the chief secretaries to submit a detailed action plan in this regard. But in Karnataka no such measure has been taken so far. Even after a year, the government failed to provide the desired information to Reddy who then moved the KIC.

At the hearing on November 17, Information Commissioner Dr Shekhar D Sajjanar directed Umadevi to provide a copy of the government circular issued by the legal section on the basis of legal opinion, including the file notings, within 30 days.
But she not only failed to provide the information but also skipped attending the hearing on December 3 when the commission the case the last time.

Taking a strong view of the non-compliance, the information commissioner imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000 on Umadevi and directed her to produce a copy of the information sought by the applicant. The case would be heard again on January 14.

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