- By: Umer Maqbool
Srinagar: The State Information Commission (SIC) has directed the State Government to provide to an RTI applicant statistics about the persons who went missing in Jammu and Kashmir during last 20 years. It has also served show cause notice to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Home Department that why he should not be penalized for delaying the information to the applicant.
Disposing a complaint filed by Raja Muzaffar Bhat, Convener, Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Movement, the Chief Information Commissioner GR Sufi ruled: “After going through the records prima facie it emerges that it is the IG CID J&K who is possessor of the information, but as the applicant had treated the Home Department as the PIO and had requested them to provide the information; the Home Department should have informed the information seeker about the fact that they were not holding such information which might be obtained from the IG CID J&K, which unfortunately has not been done. Hence, PIO of the Home Department is declared to be deemed PIO, and he is directed to provide the information to the complainant within 15 days from the receipt of this order. The PIO Home Department is now directed to ensure proper service of this order along with service of information on the information seeker free of charges in view of the provisions of section 7(6) of the (RTI) Act. The compliance of this order is to be made within 15 days from the receipt of this order.”
“The PIO’s attention is invited to the provisions of section 17 of the Act and he is given an opportunity to explain why penalty for delaying the information to the information seeker may not be imposed on him. His explanation, if any, must reach this Commission within 30 days from the receipt of this show cause notice,” the judgment reads.
Raja Muzaffar Bhat had filed an application in SIC on February 7 last year seeking information about the number of people officially declared as missing since 1990, their addresses and FIRs filed, investigation in disappearance cases and compensation paid to the families of victims.
After filing of RTI application, the PIO Home Department forwarded it to the Director General of Police (DGP) vide letter number Home/RTI/03/2011/752 dated 35/2/2011. Then PIO in DGP office forwarded application to Inspector General CID asking him to take necessary action and share the results with headquarter. Another reminder was sent on 26-05-2011 to IG CID regarding the matter. The IGP CID also prepared and furnished part of information to Home Department in June last year.
Asking the Home Department to provide complainant information sought free of cost, the SIC said that nothing has been brought before it to prove that the communication was sent to the complainant to access the information or to deposit payment for it.