- Introduce with the values reflected in the case.
- Then, answer the sub-parts as asked in the question.
This case describes the encounter of an ordinary Indian with the bureaucratic wing in everyday life. It smacks of apathy, non-responsiveness, obsession with procedural details, lack of compassion and humane sensitivity.
- The information provided in the case suggests that various authorities have not justified the responsibilities they are bound to perform be it BDO, PIO or SIC. Merely appointing PIO is not enough. BDO should have ensured that in absence of PIO, there should have been someone who could have received the application on behalf of the PIO. The BDO should have ensured that the villager could know that there is a provision of 1st appellate authority to whom villager could approach if he is not satisfied. The BDO could have taken proactive steps of making suo motu disclosures under Section 4 of the RTI act. The Information Commission instead of issuing a notice to the villager, should have sent the application to the BDO/PIO for speedy disposal and could have asked for an explanation from the BDO/PIO. Again, when directed by the SIC to look into the matter, BDO could have tried to compensate for his earlier lackadaisical approach and could have cleared the information required soon. Hence, despite the significance of law, the indifferent attitude and lack of pro-activeness is something which is missing in action and cannot be forgiven.
- Once, I would have received directions from the Commission as a BDO, first of all, I would have sincerely apologized to the Commission in writing about the episode and would have taken full responsibility of treatment met to the person. I would also have assured it of correcting the mistake and take care that such incidents don’t recur. Next, I would have done a written communication with the villager and for once dealt with his case personally since a message had to be sent that BDO’s office is sincere in correcting its wrong. Having dealt with the issue at hand, I would have given a show-cause notice to the PIO asking him to explain why action should not be taken against him for remaining absent in office hours that brought so much embarrassment to the office. Towards long term, one should have taken proactive measures of appointing APIO and making suo motu disclosures under section 4 of RTI act.
- Following options were available with information commission:
- Sending back the petition to PIO of the block for speedy disposal and asking explanation for not providing information within 30 days.
- Issuing notice to PIO to appear before the commission and submit an explanation.
- Sending the complaint petition to a senior officer to enquire upon and submitting a report.
- Appointing a new PIO and asking him to provide information to villager immediately.
- After being satisfied by the veracity of the petition, the PIO should have been fined and villager, compensated.
The best course of action could be asking explanation from the PIO and issuing direction to him to furnish information free-of-charge. The BDO could be asked to take suitable measures, so that such incidents do not occur in future. Side by side, the Commission could keep an eye on the execution of its order and give a timeline to submit action taken report. The villager must not be harassed more by being asked to come for hearing, filing more RTI application, etc.