Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Customs in the dock for flouting Right to Info Act

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 18, 2006

Customs in the dock for flouting Right to Info Act

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/nmirror/mmpaper.asp?sectid=2&articleid=618200601356187618200601222515

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Mumbaikar files contempt petition against department for not following Central Information Commission’s order

Narendra Kaushik

In a move that sets a precedent, a Mumbaikar, who did not get the information she sought from Customs and Central Excise under the Right to Information Act even after an order from the Central Information Commission (CIC), has filed a contempt petition against the department.

S R Sawant, a Bombay High Court advocate, had sought names of Customs officers who were promoted or placed in sensitive positions despite being on the ‘Agreed List’, which names those under discreet watch for corruption or against whom complaints are pending. This confidential list is prepared by the department in consultation with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and is reviewed annually. Listed officers are not supposed to be given public responsibilities or promotions.

The Fort-based advocate moved an application with the CIC on Saturday on behalf of a senior Customs official seeking penalty against Customs for non-compliance of the commission’s May 1, 2006, order. The Commission had told the department to furnish her with the information within 15 days.

In her three-page application, a copy of which is with Mumbai Mirror, Sawant has alleged that Customs has failed to furnish the sought information to her. She has sought action against Customs under section 20 of the RTI Act, which states that a department or Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) that does not furnish information despite an ordered from the central appellate authority may be asked to pay fine of Rs 250 per day. The maximum penalty prescribed under this section is Rs 25,000. The commission may also recommend disciplinary action against the concerned CPIO.

The order was pronounced by a two-member bench comprising Dr O P Kejariwal and Prof M M Ansari. Terming the non-compliance ‘unfortunate’, Ansari said the commission would take up Sawant’s application soon. Citing the case of former Maharashtra minister S S Naik, he said it had become a trend for bureaucracy and politicians to flout orders of commissions and courts.

Info Sawant wanted

• Names of officers on the ‘Agreed List’ that names officers on watch for corruption or against whom complaints are pending in 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06

• Names of officers from this list who were promoted or appointed to a higher grade within their cadre

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