The Central Information Commission has cautioned the Prime Minister’s Office to adopt “due seriousness” in the handling of Right to Information applications and provide responses within the mandatory time limit.
The matter relates to one Mohammed Khalid Jilani who wanted to know from the Prime Minister’s Office whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given the messages on the occasions of Bakra Eid in 2014, and Baravafat and Eid-ul-Fitr in 2015.
Jilani sought to know complete details of the messages, if these were given, along with the mode of communication. He also asked if the Prime Minister had attended any Roza-Iftar party in 2014 and 2015, and the details of such programmes.
Jilani claimed before the transparency panel that the response to his one question was provided after four months of filing of the application while for the remaining two he was given a reply after 10 months.
“After 10 months, the PMO informed me that if I needed this information, I have to go through the website of the PMO. If they had to provide me the link of the website, they could have done so within one month of filing my RTI,” Jilani said.
He also said that his first appeal to the PMO was responded to after 64 days as against 30 days’ mandatory limit under the transparency law.
Jilani demanded that penalty be imposed on the PMO for not adhering to mandatory limit of 30 days in responding to RTI application.
The PMO, in its response, said it had issued an interim reply stating that information shall be provided as and when received from the offices concerned.
Chief Information Commissioner R K Mathur said it is observed that information to the appellant was not provided within the stipulated period of time. However, there was no mala fide on the part of the respondent (the PMO).
“The respondent is advised to be cautious in future and ensure that RTI applications are dealt with due seriousness and information is provided within the stipulated period of time to the appellant. If the CPIO (Central Public Information Officer) has to seek information from some other officers, they may have to be treated as ‘deemed’ CPIOs and be responsible for providing information within stipulated time limits,” Mathur said.