Lucknow: As a “symbolic punishment” for failing to respond to an RTI, the Uttar Pradesh State Information Commission has directed a public information officer to give mid-day lunches to 250 school kids in Ghazipur. In 2016, RTI applicant Bhupendra Kumar Pandey requested information on development efforts in Noonra village, Ghazipur district, under the Right to Information Act.
However, Chandrika Prasad, the village development officer and PIO of Noonra village, did not answer to the RTI within the 30-day deadline. On Monday, Information Commissioner Ajay Kumar Uprety heard Pandey’s appeal and ordered Prasad to provide meals to pupils at a local elementary school on April 29. “Generally, we impose a cash penalty of Rs 25,000 on the PIOs who cause delay in providing information under the RTI Act,” Uprety told media.
Prasad, however, did not cause the delay on purpose and has been given a “symbolic and out of the box punishment,” according to Uprety, who added that the real culprit is former village development officer and PIO (Panchayati Raj department) Gopal Singh, who was fined Rs 25,000 under section 20(1) of the RTI Act. PIOs are required to furnish information within 30 days of receiving an RTI application under the RTI Act. If the PIOs do not comply with this order, the commission may propose disciplinary action under section 20(2) of the RTI Act’s service regulations, which apply to them.