CIC slaps fine on CMO

Ankush Gundwar
Thursday, 16 November 2017

Mumbai: The State Chief Information Commissioner has slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 on the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) for not providing information under Right to Information (RTI) Act in stipulated time to RTI activist and ex-RTI commissioner Shailesh Gandhi.

The CIC has issued a notice to the then desk officer of the Chief Minister Office and then public information officer (PIO) Anagha Sathe. Sathe has been retired now. The commissioner also directed in the order that the fine amount should be deducted from Sathe’s salary (pension).

Mumbai: The State Chief Information Commissioner has slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 on the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) for not providing information under Right to Information (RTI) Act in stipulated time to RTI activist and ex-RTI commissioner Shailesh Gandhi.

The CIC has issued a notice to the then desk officer of the Chief Minister Office and then public information officer (PIO) Anagha Sathe. Sathe has been retired now. The commissioner also directed in the order that the fine amount should be deducted from Sathe’s salary (pension).

Shailesh Gandhi sought information under RTI Act, about a number of grievances filed and redressed on the online portal of Maharashtra government and also a copy of these on a CD on November 13, 2015.

“This was a unique case of ‘passing the parcel’ and ‘paper game’. The General Administration Department (GAD) said it did not have the information and sent it to the CM’s office, which, then returned it to GAD on December 4. On January 2, GAD transferred this to Technical Directorate,” said Gandhi. 

“The PIO in the CM’s office, said in a letter dated April 2 (that was posted on May 3), that around 9,000 grievances were filed and most resolved. “ On my request for a copy of grievances, he claimed exemption under Section 8 (1)(f) which exempts ‘information received in confidence from foreign government’,” Gandhi said.  

The PIO in the CM’s office first sent it back to GAD and ultimately gave part information and claimed that the grievances were given in confidence.

On November 17, 2015, GAD transferred the letter to CM’s office.

Again on December 4, 2015, CMO sent the RTI application back to GAD. On January 2, GAD says grievance redress portal has been developed with the cooperation of Technical  Directorate. Hence the information sought by Gandhi was discussed

informally with the concerned officers of the said Directorate.  
According to Gandhi, on June 15, 2016, the PIO of the CM’s office sent a response giving some figures but refused to give the CD, claiming exemption under Section 8 (1)(f).

After all these journeys of the application, Gandhi filed a second appeal to the State Information Commission (CIC). The commission has unfortunately upheld the denial of CD claiming it may lead to a disclosure of some information relating to privacy and hence, exempt it under Section 8 (1)(j). But the CIC has imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000 on the PIO at the CM’s office.

The order further said that the fine amount should be recovered from PIO Sathe’s salary (i.e., pension as she is retired now). 

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