PIO not penalised, RTI applicant sends back compensation cheque to SIC
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Researcher Meenal Rege has returned a cheque for Rs 1,000 to the office of the Pune bench of State Information Commission (SIC). This is the second time she is doing so. Rege says the cheque, sent to her by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) as a compensation on the SIC's order after she was denied information under the Right to Information Act, 2005, had "added insult to my injury".
When she returned the cheque to the SIC for the first time, the latter had sent it back to her. But peeved with the SIC judgment of only ordering a compensation and not penalising the public information commissioner (PIO) concerned, Rege is firm on her stand to not accept the amount and has sent the cheque to the SIC again.
In 2009, Rege had filed an RTI application seeking a copy of the sanctioned plan of a building in Shivajinagar. "Though sanctioned plans are supposed to be given to any individual upon the receiving of a simple application, I was unable to obtain the same. So, I had to resort to RTI," she said. Replying to her application, the PIO had stated that the sanctioned plan of the building was not available, following which moved the first appellate authority, who in this case was the PMC zonal commissioner (Zone 1).
"As per the procedure of the RTI, while replying to applications under RTI, the PIO is supposed to give the name and address of the first appellate authority, which was not done in my case. Also, as I was not happy with the answer given, I went for the first appeal," she said.
During the hearing of Rege's first appeal, the appellate authority ordered that the said plans be made available to her within eight days, and instructed the records in-charge at Nanawada and the office of the city engineer in charge of the building permission department at PMC to coordinate. "The maps, which were 'unavailable' till just a few weeks ago, were immediately made available to me, from which I drew the conclusion that the PIO was intentionally hiding the information and hence I went for a second appeal," she said.
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