Saturday, December 4, 2010

Doctor's anti-RTI missive gets CIC angry

Doctor's anti-RTI missive gets CIC angry

Shimona Kanwar, TNN, Dec 1, 2010, 01.21 am IST

CHANDIGARH: The Right To Information Act has been hailed as an important legislation for development of our democratic society by most people. But the openness that RTI Act requires can still be opposed in 'confidential' official communication. That has come to light in the case of associate professor of department of physiology at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32 - Dr Gurjit Kaur - who termed an RTI query by PGI doctor Rakesh Sehgal about her qualifications "a disturbing activity" in a letter to PGI head. Now, the Central Information Commission has criticized her sending the missive. 

Dr Sehgal had sought information from GMCH-32 on May 20, 2009, about how Dr Kaur was eligible to hold the post of incharge of genetic centre at the hospital. That information was not provided. Dr Sehgal then moved the Central Information Commission and presented what he said was Kaur's subsequent complaint to the PGI director. 

The CIC decided in favour of Dr Sehgal and said the associate professor needed to clean the cobwebs in her mind so as to allow this unique legislation to illuminate her thinking. 

CIC stated, "The letter (as provided by Dr Sehgal, which was addressed to the PGI director) identifies seeking information under the RTI Act as 'negative activities' and is described as being equal to making a serious offence against the decorum of the institute." 

Taking a serious note of this approach of not providing timely RTI information, the CIC wrote, "The incharge, Genetic Centre, GMCH, has considered it appropriate to express such views in an official communication to the PGIMER director. The commission, through this order, wishes to disabuse her of this erroneous interpretation of the RTI Act wherein her view seeking information regarding an area not related to his (the appellant's) field of research and his institution is considered a disturbing activity." Dr Sehgal could not be contacted for his comments as he is on a visit abroad. 

Dr Kaur said, "The letter to the PGI director was confidential. So how could anyone get a copy of it? I have not written anything adverse against anyone or criticized the RTI Act."

Courtesy_

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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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