Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jail Superintendent fined for not giving details

Jail Superintendent fined for not giving details under Right to Information Act

Staff Reporter

Coimbatore: The Tamil Nadu Information Commission has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the Public Information Officer (PIO) and Superintendent of Central Prison for having failed to furnish the information sought by a convict prisoner A. Samsudeen under the Right to Information Act.

Chief Information Commissioner S. Ramakrishnan has directed the Inspector-General of Prisons to recover the amount and remit it into the public treasury and report the same to the Commission within six weeks. The order also said that the petitioner is also free to claim a compensation under Section 19 (8) (a) for any direct loss to him arising out of non supply of information.

According to the order, the petitioner had asked for information under the RTI Act on October 28, 2008 from the PIO, Central Prison - Coimbatore wherein he is a prisoner. On November 3, 2009, he got a reply stating that information could not be furnished because of security and administrative reasons. He filed an appeal on November 10, 2009 and sent a petition to the Commission on December 20, 2008 and was forwarded by the prison authorities to the Commission on January 7, 2009.

The Commission summoned the PIO, Coimbatore Prison to appear before the Commission on October 30, 2009. The petitioner had sought information about how his name was not included in the list of prisoners to be released (vide government order No. 1762) on the occasion of the Anna Centenary Celebration even though he was eligible. He wanted to know whether he and his fellow convicts had been reported as those incarcerated on a communal case and whether a report was sent to the government.

He had explained that he was seeking the information to make a proper representation to the government that the concession was extended to other life convicts has in his case been unfortunately rejected.

At the enquiry, the PIO chose to absent himself and had sent a representative who was the Additional Superintendent of Central Prison. The official who represented the PIO had no other explanation other than citing that for administrative and security reasons, the information was rejected.

This reason was not one of them listed in Section 8 (1) of the RTI Act where on such grounds information sought could be rejected.

It was denial of information without jurisdiction and legal sanction by the Public Information Officer.

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The RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 11 May 2005, by the Raj Sabha (Upper House) on 12 May 2005 and received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Parts of the Act came into force upon Presidential assent, but the Act came fully into force on 12 October 2005, 120 days after Presidential assent.

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