SRINAGAR: The State Information Commission (SIC) has taken a serious view of the absence of the Superintending Engineer (Hydraulics), Sopore, who is the First Appellate Authority (FAA) for Hydraulic Division, Bandipora, in the hearing on August 9, 2017.
The SIC in its order in the second appeal in the case titled Ghulam Mohammad Wani v/s Executive Engineer Hydraulic Circle, Bandipora has observed that “the conduct of the FAA has been in violation of the provisions of the RTI Act” which lays down clearly the duties of FAA under Section 16 of the ACT. The observation added that duties of the FAA under Section 16 of the RTI Act include acting in a quasi-judicial manner and giving an opportunity and proper hearing to the aggrieved appellant but the SE Hydraulics Sopore has failed to perform the said duties under the provisions of the RTI Act.
The SIC has made similar observations about the absence of FAAs and PIOs in the appeals titled Abdul Qayoom v/s PIO/SHO Police Station, Awantipora; Mohammad Musa v/s Commandant IRP 18thBattalion, Reshipora, Shopian; Prof Abdul Gani Bhat v/s PIO, J&K High Court; and Javaid Ahmad Bhat v/s NCC.
Pertinently, the General Administration Department on the recommendations of the SIC has issued circular instructions vide No: 35-GAD of 2017 dated: 25-07-2017 enjoining upon all the administrative departments, heads of departments and public authorities to appoint officers of appropriate seniority as the PIOS and FAAs.
The SIC had observed that the Govt Departments are appointing junior officers as PIOs and FAAs which is coming in the way of effective functioning of their duties as PIOs and FAAs under J&K RTI Act.
The SIC has also initiated penalty proceedings under Section 17 of the J&K RTI Act against half a dozen Public Information Officers (PIOs) who have shown negligence or dereliction of duty in the discharge of functions as PIOs.
With regard to the non-attendance of FAAs, the SIC has decided to make recommendations to the Public Authorities under Section 22(5) of the Act enjoining upon them to ensure the presence of officials during the second appeal proceedings before the Commission to conform to the provisions of the Act.