The Delhi High Court last week rapped the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) for its inability to file a status report on its earlier order requiring civic bodies to update their websites to include a grievance redressal mechanism for people complaining of unauthorized constructions and encroachments.
The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar directed the Commissioner, EDMC to ensure that a status report is submitted within 10 days. It further directed,
"The Commissioner, EDMC shall also inform this Court as to the manner in which the information has to be uploaded on the website and its regular updation so that the latest information is available to the public at large."
The Petition, filed by Mr Anil Dutt Sharma, had alleged non-action of the authorities on the complaints and grievances raised by the public on unauthorized construction and encroachments.
On a perusal of the material available on record, the Court had, in November last year, opined that several of the grievances raised by the Petitioner would be addressed if details of the complaints made and the action taken on them is put in public domain.
It had then observed, "It appears to us that many of the grievances raised by the petitioner could be addressed if a formal mechanism regarding putting the particulars of the complaint received; the property and/or subject matter thereof; the name of the officer who is required to deal with the complaint on the day when it is received in the office of the respondents; the order which is passed on the complaint; details of the action taken on the complaint; reasons for delay in either addressing the complaint or in implementation of the order which is passed thereon; the details of the officials who, if changed then details of the new incumbents, in the offices of the authorities till such time the action is completed are put in the public domain or on a proper website of the authorities concerned.
In fact, this is the responsibility of all public authorities under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005."
The Court had, therefore, directed the civic bodies as well as the IT department to examine the feasibility of the suggestion and take steps to place such information on its website.
However, during the hearing on 16 March, the Court noted that despite its earlier orders, a status report had not been filed. This, it opined, suggested that "the respondents are trying to avoid transparency in the grievance redressal mechanism".
The Court then directed the EDMC to file a status report within 10 days, coming down heavily on the authorities for not having complied with its directions. It observed, "Given that grievances raised by the petitioner are in public interest, the avoidance to place the information in public domain is a serious matter. Non-compliance with our directions to ensure transparency contributes to the allegations of corruption in the respondent corporation.
We make it clear that in case there is laxity in compliance of the above we may take a strict view of the matter and require the appearance of the officers."
The matter has now been listed on 17 April.