Failing to provide RTI reply: Information Commission warns of flash inspections at govt offices

Representational image: Manorama

Alappuzha: The State Information Commission (SIC) will soon conduct flash inspections at government offices to identify and take action against officials who fail to carry out their obligations under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

This was announced by RTI Commissioner A Abdul Hakeem after conducting evidence collection at the Alappuzha collectorate here on Monday.

“A meeting of district collectors will be convened the next day itself to ask them to prepare for the inspections. In the initial stage, inspections will be carried out at the collectorates in Kollam, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad,” he said.

The RTI officials will conduct inspections at the Forest Department offices in the districts of Idukki, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, and Palakkad.

In the Alappuzha district, the officials will conduct inspections at the Revenue and Education departments, including the offices of the Deputy Director of Education. Inspections will also be held at the village offices, including those at Cheppad and Thakazhy.

“The officials who refuse to give the information sought to applicants, despite having the same, will bring a bad name to a democratic government. The studies done by the Commission have revealed that a section of officials has failed to properly handle the files related to the Right to Information Act. Strict action will be initiated against such officials who deny the citizens an opportunity to learn about government decisions without any hindrances or interferences. They are obliged to provide information even without receiving the applications,” Hakeem said.

Section Four of the RTI Act clearly states that people should be informed of the services being extended at various government institutions, and the phone numbers and websites for availing the same. The laws, as per this, should be provided on websites within 120 days. However, many of the government offices have failed to ensure the same. The apex court has asked the commission to initiate action against them, the official pointed out.

Also, the information should be properly classified and kept at the government offices. Action will also be taken if the officials charge excess fees.

As per the relevant RTI provisions, the officials can be subjected to action, that includes a five-year jail term or a fine above Rs 10,000, or both, if they attempt to hide a government file or fail to produce the same, he warned.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.