The Central Information Commission has pulled up Civil Aviation Ministry for “casual and callous approach” in handling Right to Information applications which it said “defeats the spirit” of the law for empowering citizenry.
Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka made these hard-hitting observations while hearing the case where the ministry could not satisfactorily answer queries on ground handling services such as “Which out of these are part of Central Government (i) Indian Airlines (2) BWFS (3) AirIndia SETS (4) CELBI”.
Delhi-based Jagpal had sought information on a number of queries related to ground handling work through his RTI application filed in 2013 but satisfactory responses were claimed to have not been furnished and the application kept getting transferred from one authority to another including Air India and Airports Authority of India.
When the matter reached Julka, he said, representatives from various arms of the ministry were represented in great strength but none could satisfactorily reply to the queries raised by the applicant.
“It appeared to be an exercise of musical chairs without owning responsibility for the information sought by the applicant. The representatives of Civil Aviation Ministry were also not able to reply in the matter,” he said.
Directing the ministry to provide information within 15 days, he said, while observing the text of the deliberations held during the hearing, it appeared that the matter had been dealt with in a “most casual manner with total disregard to the spirit of the Act”.
“This casual and callous approach of the M/o Civil Aviation and the organisations working under its ambit is very pathetic and disgraceful which defeats the spirit of empowering citizenry in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act,” he said.
The Information Commissioner directed the Central Public Information Officer, Civil Aviation Ministry, to seek explanation of the officer regarding the approach adopted by him in passing the buck rather than attending to the RTI applications in a diligent manner.
Jagpal had raised a number of issues through his RTI application which included information on directions for staff working for domestic and international airlines from DGCA, policy of ground handling licensing, violation of DGCA’s policy of allowing only three ground handling companies to operate.
He had also sought to know why foreign companies cannot deploy ground handling staff, besides information on the reason behind the staff of Delhi Airport operator not being asked to do such duties.