Activists target Punjab information panel’s decisions

By Alkesh Sharma, IANS
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

CHANDIGARH - Upset over the manner in which the Punjab Information Commission works, a group of Right to Information (RTI) activists here is all set to bring out a book highlighting a hundred of its “ridiculous” decisions. The chief information commissioner has refuted their charges.

Punjab’s RTI activists’ federation has accused state Chief Information Commissioner R.I. Singh of favouring government officials by not disclosing information about their misdeeds.

“We have sent written appeals, memorandums and even staged protests outside the office of the information commissioner but nothing fruitful has come out,” federation’s president H.C. Arora told IANS.

“We have hundreds of cases with us, with all proof about illogical decisions of the commission,” he added.

“There are several cases where the commission straightaway declined to provide information by citing illegitimate reasons. So we have decided to publish a book, ‘One hundred ridiculous decisions of Punjab state information commission’,” he said.

Arora said the book will be sent to Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil and all high court judges in the country.

“The book will be published by the end of January 2011. We will present it to the Punjab governor and also to all information commissioners as well as high court judges across the country,” he said.

The RTI activists’ federation has also urged that “more competent individuals” from different walks of life and with proven track records be appointed as information commissioners in the state.

“Retired IAS (Indian Administrative Service) and police officers should not be appointed as information commissioners as most of them are biased and incompetent,” Arora asserted.

“Some prominent RTI or human rights activists and individuals with high integrity should be appointed as information commissioners,” he added.

The state’s RTI activists’ federation was constituted in June 2009. It has over 900 members across the state.

Federation secretary Anil Vashisht said some information commissioners were manipulating the log books of official cars through their drivers.

“They are showing travel of about 50-60 km even on Saturdays and Sundays and on other holidays. But in reality, they usually do not sit in their office for more than two or three hours, and that too for only two or three days in a week,” Vashisht said.

But Punjab’s chief information commissioner, who is a retired IAS officer, denied the charges.

“I do not understand the reason behind all this protest. I am always available in my office and anybody can meet me any time. If they have any problem, they can discuss it with me,” said Singh, who has served as chief secretary, Punjab, and retired from the post of secretary, government of India.

“Earlier they had submitted a memorandum of their demands and accordingly I had sent my recommendations to the Punjab governor,” he added.

“We are working in a very transparent manner and every information is displayed on our websites and notice boards. If any information commissioner is not abiding the law, they can register a complaint with me. We have always provided information to the applicants as per the law of our country,” Singh told IANS.

(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at

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