India

No respect & regards for High Court’s order implementation

golden yug
[ September 28, 2017 ] Public Works Department (PWD) R&B has always been in news for wrong reasons and following which several RTI applications were moved to bring the facts in public domain after several serious allegations was leveled against the department for poor working and misuse of funds. Perhaps this is the reason why several times requisite information under RTI Act 2009 was denied by PIO to shield its corrupt officials or to save the image of department. In a blatant misuse of RTI Act 2009, then Chief Engineer PWD demanded Rs 1,83322 passed the direction on 18-4-2017 for RTI applications filed 2 years back from activist for providing information to him saying that the applicant filed several RTI applications and wasted precious time of office in replying him which is however nowhere written in RTI Act 2009. He was absolutely wrong in doing so as then Information Commissioner vide its decision dated 16-12-2014 contrary to the claims of PWD (R&B) Division Udhampur infect directed to provide the appellant the sought information free of cost where as PIO was demanding Rs 108,184 for providing information. Surprisingly the information sought in 31-5-2014 by information seeker has not been provided till date which speaks volume of the respect and regard by different departments of Govt towards RTI Act 2009. It deserves mentioning here that RTI filed on 3-2-2017 before PIO PWD Division 1st was seeking information regarding publications of NIT No.CD-68 Dated 2-7-2016 and NIT No.11 dated 14-5-2016 to verify that whether these were actually published or not simply because sources have alleged that works worth more than 7.62 crores were actually not executed on ground including five different works in five different locations mostly Bituminous Macadam works ragardinf funds spent by the contractor, current status of work. One more reason for the information was that the Information Department was confident of not receiving any such NITs vide letter No.INF/RTI/J-Advt-139 dated 6-3-2017. Denying this valuable information highly in public interest creates further doubts there is absolutely something fishy in execution of ibid stated works and so the information seeker committed towards his social responsibility consistently striving hard to get the information of these manipulated works. Besides in another RTI application seeking information from Chief Engineer PWD on 10-1-2017 regarding providing the photo copies of the orders, circulars issued by the Chief Engineer, PWD (R&B) pertaining to the remittance of the amount of damages caused to the roads etc due to spreading /laying of underground OFC Cables by the companies/contractors remitted to the office of Chief Engineer on the basis of estimates prepared by Superintending Engineer/Executive Engineers of the subordinate Divisions of PWD (R&B) Department. Seeking information how much amount has been deposited by the companies JIO, Airtel, Aircel etc for laying of OFC cables in Channi Himmat area falling in the jurisdiction of Superintending Engineer/ Executive Engineer PWD (R&B) Division 1st Jammu with cheque No., draft No. in the office of Chief Engineer PWD Department, Jammu through the concerned executive Engineer during the year 2015-16 and 2016-17 worth crores but information was not provided proving the point of information seeker that misdeeds have happened in execution of ibid stated works and with a sole aim to block that important public interest information, the information seeker was deliberately harassed for seeking that information and also demanding amount in lacs for the information which the information seeker was received free of cost as per the RTI Act 2009 and few of them already under complice notice and that too information received in 2014-15 and 2015-16 was demanded the requisite charges in 2017 which is aginst RTI Act . Accordingly the information seeker approached the High Court against PWD Authorities direction and the High Court vide OWP No. 1001/2017 &MP No.1/2017 provided the statutory authorities under the RTI Act particularly Public Information Officers shall perform their statutory duties as conferred upon them under RTI Act without being influenced by any orders passed by the higher authorities including the impugned order on 18-4-2017. It is made clear that in case any application filed by the petitioner is pending or is filed in future same would be dealt with strictly as per RTI Act and rules framed there under. But even then the information seeker was not provided the requisite information despite the fact that direction was passed to PIOs not to block any information falling under the jurisdiction of RTI Act 2009.Right to Information Act 2005 in all over India and in J&K properly in 2009 was aimed to provide an opportunity to people of country to know what their govt is doing and how it is being done so that coordination between Govt and public remains the priority. It was no doubt a potent tool into the hands of those who want transparency and accountability in functioning of Govt departments so that proper use of tax payer’s money could be ensured. With the passage of time several prominent persons using RTI Act put the data in public domain which forced the Govt to take action against corrupt officials and also provided an opportunity to Govt to take care of its departments functioning and thereby making them alert that if something wrong is done by them, then through the medium of RTI their misdeeds will get exposed. In case of J&K unfortunately no steps were taken to encourage the volunteers to seek important public information in public interests rather they were discouraged with wrong and incomplete information with a aim to demoralize their spirit. Several directions were passed by respective PIOs which were not in accordance with provision of RTI Act 2009 and also were bizarre in nature proving that they are least interested in giving right information fearing their misdeeds will get exposed. Moreover a nominal fee of Rs 2 per page was set so that people fearlessly raise voice against wrongdoings in society and free of cost in case the information is not provided within period of 30 days, information was set for scheduled castes so that they can also feel part of system and can build up their confidence so that no one can dare to exploit and harass them forcibly and for personal interests. There are several examples where deliberately right and complete information was not provided and even several RTI Activists were charged with seeking futile information and even some were denied information under the Act on the pretext of information to be provided as highly voluminous. Notwithstanding anything contained in Sub section (5), the person making request for information shall be provided the information free of charge where a public authority fails to comply with the time limits specified in Sub Section (1). Subject to the proviso to sub section (2) of section 5 or the proviso to sub-section (3) of section 6. The public information officer on receipt of a request under Section 6 shall as expeditiously as possible and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request, either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reason specified in section 8 & 9.