New Delhi, Feb 21: A forged RTI reply furnished seven years ago from his office triggered harassment of a public information officer of Delhi government who finally found refuge in the CIC which has ordered the Chief Minister's Office to inquire into the matter.
The then Public Information Officer Harjeet Singh, who processed RTI responses at ADM, North District here, had to use the Act to clear himself of the serious charge levelled against him.
In 2008, a response was issued from his office to L D Chopra even when no RTI application was filed. The response was unsigned saying that certified copies of a will have been provided without due process of law.
On the basis of this unsigned response, Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi government started proceedings against Singh who had now moved as an administrative officer in Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
Singh started filing RTI applications seeking details of the RTI response which triggered action against him but no reply was furnished to him. Even earlier orders of the CIC did not help. Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu took stern view on it.
"The reply served its purpose to help land grabber and its serious side effect was that one responsible officer of public authority suffered humiliation and insults as he faced investigations for no fault of him causing mental depression to entire family members," he said.
Acharyulu said it is not clear till now which public servant has issued the letter dated SPIO/DC/(N)/RTI/5/ID No.360/928 dated February 14, 2008 which is fabricated.
"It appears that officer who signed the letter is known to others, but all of them are shielding him by putting forward the 'non traceable' plea. The Government has responsibility to probe this through an appropriate investigating authority," he said.
"The Commission finds this as a very bad case of non- response to RTI request, where the appellant is not a common citizen, but an officer of the same government, who became the victim of a falsely generated RTI response in the absence of any RTI request," Acharyulu said.
He noted in the order that neither the PIOs nor the ADMs of north and central districts, have cared to take serious note of Commission's orders in this case, which reflects misuse of RTI by officers.
"The appellant had suffered prolonged humiliation, harassment and insults with different kinds of investigations by police, ACB and others. In spite of many notices, the PIOs did not attend," he said.
Issuing showcause notices, the Information Commissioner asked ADMs of central and north why a penalty should not be imposed on them and why disciplinary action cannot be recommended against each of them.
"The Commission also requires that the Chief Minister or Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi to take serious note of this criminal act of falsification of record and then hiding the crime under the cover of illegal excuse that 'RTI record not traceable'," he said.
The Commissioner said if for any jurisdictional issue, the GNCTD finds it is not within their purview to investigate this, they should request the Union Home Ministry to take up the investigation.