CIC cautions MHA official for not sharing info on PM CARES Fund contributions

THE CENTRAL Information Commission (CIC) has cautioned the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), asking him to “ensure strict compliance” with the RTI Act.

Cautioning Praveen Kumar Yadav, a deputy secretary and the CPIO of the MHA, Chief Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Kumar Sinha in his order on Tuesday asked him to “ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the Act in future”.

The order came on a complaint filed by The Indian Express after the MHA did not respond to an application for details of contributions made to the PM CARES Fund since March 28, 2020 by various departments, institutions, PSUs and other organisations under it as well as from the salaries of employees and other heads.

In its order, the CIC said, “During the hearing, the Respondent (Praveen Kumar Yadav) explained that a reply was not provided since they were under the impression that PM CARES Fund is not a public authority within the purview of the RTI Act, 2005. The Commission finds the argument untenable since some reply ought to have been given in accordance with the RTI Act.”

In a separate order, also on a complaint filed by The Indian Express, Information Commissioner Amita Pandove directed the CIC registry to issue show-cause notices to the CPIO and Director of H N Bahuguna Garhwal University of Uttarakhand for “denial of information with mala fide intent”.

The central university was among those who did not provide details of the contributions they made to the PM CARES Fund. After hearing the matter on Tuesday, Pandove said in her order, “The Commission deems it fit to direct the registry of this bench to issue show-cause notice to Dr A K Mohanty, Finance Officer & CPIO, and Dr R C Sunderyal, Director, as to why action should not be initiated against each of them individually, under Section 20(1) and 20(2) of the RTI Act for failing to comply with the provisions of the RTI Act.”

“The Commission expresses severe displeasure against the Respondent for appearing before the Commission completely unprepared and unaware of the facts of the instant case,” Pandove said in the order, uploaded on the CIC website on Wednesday. “The Commission further observes that the Respondent public authority has displayed utter disregard and complete callousness towards the sanctity of the forum, which has vitiated the proceedings of the instant hearing.”
The order said while the appeal was filed in one matter, the officials representing the university were referring to some other application.

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