सोमवार, 20 जुलाई 2015

Ridiculous and Whimsical Order of the FAA, Odisha I&PR Dept

Ridiculous and Whimsical  Order of the First Appellate Authority, Dept of Information and Public Relation Department, Govt. of Odisha in context of disclosure of  information  relating  to selection and appointment  of Information commissioner in Odisha  – An order to deceive  the Appellant


On 18.5.15, I had submitted RTI Application to the PIO, Department of Information and Public Relation, Govt. of Odisha seeking information about procedure followed for selection of candidates for the post of Information Commissioners. The details of information sought for is as follows.

i. Provide information about   whether the State Govt. has developed any written procedure for appointment in the post of Chairman and Members of Odisha Information Commission. If yes, please provide copy of it.
ii. Provide information about details of procedure followed for issuing advertisement to nominating candidates to the post of Chairman and Members of Odisha Information Commission.
iii. Provide list of Candidates applied for the post of Chairman and Members of Odisha Information Commission following the advertisement
iv. Provide  information about details of criteria taken up  for  shortlising candidates  for the post of  Chairman and Members of Odisha Information Commission which was presented to the selection Committee and name of the shortlisted candidates.
 v. Provide details of reason / justification behind rejecting the candidature of the applicants applied for the post of Chairman and Members of Odisha Information Commission (information to be provided candidature-wise)
vi. Provide name of the Scrutiny Committee or Search committee or any Committee or any officers  assigned  to scrutinize the application and copy of the proceedings of that committee, if any
vii. Provide information about the criteria taken up or the procedure followed for scrutinizing the application of the applicants.
viii. Provide copy of the proceedings of the selection Committee meeting held twice for nominating the name for the post of Chairman and Members of Odisha Information Commission
ix. Provide information  about the views of the opposition leader or  dissenting note, if any given by the opposition leader  as member of the selection Committee.
x. Provide copy of the file noting starting from the process of issuing advertisement to finalization of candidates for the post of Chairman and Members of Odisha Information Commission in the selection committee.
xi. Provide copy of the letter sent to Governor, Odisha proposing the name of two candidates   for appointment in the post of Chairman and Members of Odisha Information Commission

Interestingly, though the I and PR Dept is the nodal Department for implementation of RTI Act in Odisha and expected  to be model , the PIO of this  Dept defied the RTI Act  in broad daylight by not responding the RTI Application. As per the Act, if the PIO does not want to provide the information, he has to reject the application citing the reasons under section 7 (1) of the RTI Act.

However,  finding no  information,  I made  first appeal dated 22.6.15 to the First Appellate Authority  ( FAA)             of the Department  to  direct the PIO  to provide the information free of cost.  The FAA heard my case 14.7.15 in my absence (I opted to remain absence)  and  passed   the following order. (Extract of the decision of FAA)

“ PIO and APIOs stated  that  the information  on the procedure  of appointment  is already available  in the public domain in e-despatch of  Information ad Public Relations Department at http:// inpr.odisha.gov.in/ , so far the point No-i, ii and other related  information are  concerned. Any citizen is free to access the website.  At the time of seeking information by the appellant the procedure of appointment was under process. There is no post of Chairman and Selection Committee under RTI Act, 2005. After studying pros and cons of this case, the 1stAppellate  Authority  hereby directs  the PIO  that  the process of appointment  may be provided  with available  information  within 15 days of the receipt of this order free of cost  as per section 7 (6) of the RTI Act, 2005 “   

Analysis of the Order of the FAA
1.  The PIO stated that   the information on the procedure of appointment is already available in the public domain in e-despatch of Information and Public Relations Department.  If it was available, then what was the problem with the PIO to provide it within 30 days of the submission of RTI Application as per section 7 (1) of the RTI Act.  If the selection process was going on, what was the problem with the PIO to inform the applicant as required under the RTI Act.

2. The information was sought about written procedure which might have been framed by the Govt.  prior to starting the selection procedure. This information could have been provided by the PIO in response to RTI Application. If there was no written document with the Department, the PIO should have intimated it.  The First Appellate Authority (FAA) failed to understand the content of information sought for.

3. Information about details of procedure followed for issuing advertisement to nominating candidates to the post of Chairman and Members of Odisha Information Commission is already available in the Department following which the advertisement was issued in Feb. 2015. What was the problem with the provide this information.  FAA has precariously failed to understand it.

4. Information about  list of Candidates applied for the post of Chairman and Members of Odisha Information Commission following the advertisement  was already  available  in the Department  following which  the  selection Committee meeting  held on 16.5.15 finalised two names for the post of the Information Commissioners. RTI Application was submitted on 18.5.15 and information to be supplied by 18.6.15.  Why the PIO denied supplying this information.  The FAA has failed to clarify it.  It needs to be mentioned that this information has not been supplied to 5 RTI Applicants till yet.

5.   Information about the criteria taken up or the procedure followed for scrutinizing the application of the applicants is already available in the Department following which two candidates were selected on 16.5.15. What were the bottlenecks to provide the said information?  It is fact that the PIO with malafide intention has suppressed the information.  The FAA has remained silence on this issue.

6.   The PIO has said there is no post of Chairman and Selection Committee under RTI Act, 2005. It is totally rubbish and proves how the PIO is ignorant of the RTI Act.  It is very common question how the Govt.  will select name of the  candidates  without a Committee. As per section 15 (3) of the RTI Act “  the State Chief Information  Commissioner  and the State Information commissioner  shall be appointed  by the Governor  on the recommendation  of  a committee   consisting  of (i) the Chief Minister,  who shall be  the Chairperson of the committee, (ii)  the leader of opposition  in the Legislative Assembly as Member, (iii) a Cabinet  Minister  to be nominated  by the Chief Minister. It is interpreted as Selection committee by the SIC, Central Information omission, entral Govt. etc. The PIO is so ignorant of the law, he could neither understand not interpret the said provision of the lawOh God excuse them, they do not know what they are doing. 

Last but not least, I am still waiting to get the information from the PIO as per the direction of FAA. After getting this information I will again educate the readers about the true character of Odisha bureaucracy.

Pradip Pradhan, M-9937843482

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