A senior officer attached to the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has been slapped with a fine amounting Rs. 5,000 by the state information commissioner (SIC) Konkan Bench KL Bishnoi for failing to respond to queries posed by an applicant under the provisions of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Notably, the then deputy municipal commissioner who was the first appellate authority has also been taken to task by the information commissioner, thus sending out a strong message that even senior officers will not be spared from being reprimanded for shirking their responsibilities.
An application was filed under the RTI act by social activist Krishna Gupta, seeking details from the Public Information Officer (PIO) Avinash Jadhav in connection to a complaint related to the general administrative department of the MBMC in 2018. When the PIO failed to respond within the stipulated period, the applicant filed an appeal in accordance with RTI rules. However, the first appellate authority who was then the deputy municipal commissioner Vijaykumar Mhasaal (now additional commissioner of MBMC) failed to conduct a hearing, thus grossly violating the RTI Act and causing harassment to the applicant.
The reply filed by the officials in response to the show cause notices was also not satisfactory. While the penalty amount has to be deducted in a single monthly installment from the salary of the officer, the SIC has ordered disciplinary action against the deputy municipal commissioner. It is interesting to note that more than a dozen senior officials in the MBMC had inked their signatures on a letter addressed to the commissioner, alleging harassment and blackmailing by some activists under the garb of seeking information under the RTI Act, exposing the double standards of the civic officials.