Refusing to accept the National Green Tribunal’s contention that it does not have adequate infrastructure to deal with RTI applications, the Central Information Commission has ordered that the tribunal must disclose the travel and tour expenses incurred for its chairman and other members. The Commission also issued a show cause notice to the officer in the Tribunal and asked why the highest penalty should not be put for failure to provide information in time.
The order of the Commission came after Department of Personnel and Training had issued directions to all public authorities on September 11, 2012, to suo motu publish the expenses incurred on official tours undertaken by any ministers and officials. In addition, the Commission itself had directed all public authorities to do the same.
Reportedly, the travel expenses were being put in the public domain by the Office of the then Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Hearing the appeal filed by Mr. RK Jain under S. 19(5) of the RTI Act, the Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu ordered, “The Commission directs the CPIO to furnish para-wise reply to the complainant... and also directs him to show cause why a penalty cannot be imposed on him for not providing information to the complainant.”
Mr. Jain had sought information from the National Green Tribunal regarding travel bills, bills received from Balmer Lawrie, a travel company, pending bills and travel proposals in relation to its chairman and other officials.
Before the CIC, Mr. Jain had countered the NGT's claim of not having enough infrastructure by submitting, “Justice must tame whom mercy cannot win” and that “he cannot agree with the pleading of the CPIO that they are badly infrastructured, as he has personally seen their office, how much advanced infrastructure they have been provided with.”
Earlier, in reply to his RTI Application, the CPIO had written to him that he cannot ask for photocopies of documents once he has inspected them in person. The same being not acceptable to Mr. Jain, he preferred an appeal before the Commission, with CIC now ordering NGT to provide the information.
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Read the order here.