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CIC pulls up post office for not replying to RTI on water availability

LiveMint logoLiveMint 07-07-2017 Mayank Aggarwal

New Delhi: Can a Right to Information (RTI) application solve someone’s water woes? To highlight that there is no water for people coming to the post office and that the building of a post office is an unsafe one, a citizen in Rajasthan used RTI and now the Central Information Commission (CIC).

The appellant, Charanjeet Singh Nagpal, had sought details like whether they know that the building of the ‘Anupgarh post office’ is declared unsafe and can fall anytime, number of computers and how many are in working conditions, alternative sources of power supply , drinking water arrangement for public etc.

However, the post office officials stonewalled his queries and refused to provide any information. Following this, the appellant complained to the CIC which is India’s apex body under RTI Act, 2005.

In its decision on Wednesday, CIC came down heavily on the errant post official officials and issued a show-cause notice to them asking why they should not be penalized for not providing the information.

“The post office has posted an inhuman reply to this RTI application. Like a mindless clerk or heartless babu, the CPIO (Central Public Information Officer) denied information saying that the questions do not fall under definition of ‘information’. It is an inhuman response reflecting anti-people and anti-RTI attitude of incorrigible public servants,” noted information commissioner at CIC M. Sridhar Acharyulu, in his order.

In a stern order, Acharyulu stated that the officers do not provide water to people and when asked under RTI “refuse like an inhuman machine run by rules”.

“These two questions are life related. If the consumer is injured by collapse of unsafe building or lack of water or any other minimum facilities like first aid box, the post office has to be liable under criminal and civil law for culpable homicide,” he noted.

The commission questioned post official officials that is it their policy to not provide drinking water?

“Did you declare that you will not provide drinking water… Did you inform or notify the customers of your post office that they should bring their own water as they are not willing to provide? Is it not inhuman to deny water and also information about it? Though it is (RTI application) in form of ‘question’, it has information request behind it, to which the three CPIOs were brutally blind,” the information commissioner noted.

Acharyulu directed the post office officials to provide the answers to the queries within 10 days.

He directed three CPIOs who dealt with appellant’s case to also reply within 21 days as to why they should not be penalised and disciplinary action not be taken against them for not responding to the basic questions.

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