LAHORE: The Punjab Information Commission has reprimanded the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board’s Public Information Officer (PIO) for negligence in official responsibilities and directed the Managing Director to ensure proper steps for implementing the Right to Information (RTI) law.
According to details, hearing of a complaint title “Shahbaz Akmal Jandran Vs Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB)” was held on Tuesday at Punjab Information Commission (PIC).
Ms. Madeeha Iqbal, Public Information Officer of PCTB attended the hearing and submitted that information could not be retrieved and disclosed as the notice of the Commission was allegedly received yesterday evening, which certainly reflects some laxity on the part of the Commission’s working.
She further added that she is not sure whether RTI application was received in PCTB.
PIC has passed an interim order in the complaint and directed the PCTB to submit the requested information within 7 days.
The Commission takes serious exception to evasive response reflecting weakness of the conduct of RTI business in PCTB. Since PIO has taken over the charge as such just one month ago inheriting a disorganized RTI business, therefore, her irresponsible reply is condoned, PIC order states.
Managing Director, PCTB is also directed to take appropriate steps ensuring effective conduct of RTI business in PCTB failing which PIO can never perform her functions efficiently and effectively.
Punjab Information Commission also stated guidelines for the Public Information Officers which are as under:
- That the designated PIO must have a conspicuous office with his/her name plate as PIO installed outside the office;
- That administrative head must ensure the provision of such office and necessary material like stationary, telephone, e-mail etc for PIO;
- A PIO must have a “RTI Register” for entries of all incoming RTI Applications and their disposals in accordance with the pattern prepared by the Commission;
- The Head of Administrative Unit u/s 7 of RTI Act, 2013 is under obligation to notify an officer of BS-16 or above as PIO failing which he can be taken awarded the penalty;
- The Head of Administrative Unit must circulate a direction among all wings of the office, intimating the designation of one officer as PIO, directing all to extend cooperation by providing any information sought by PIO;
- A PIO must be well-versed with the provisions of RTI law by attending at least 2/3 RTI Trainings conducted by Commission;
- A PIO is under obligation to respond to citizens by forwarding certified copies of requisite information at their given addresses within 14 working days;
- In case a PIO finds that the requisite information is exempted under any of 8 exemptions then he must pass a speaking order with reference to relevant provision of law and to forward the same to the complainant.
- If the Commission finds during the hearing of a case that a PIO did not forward within 14 working days certified copies of requisite information at the given address of citizen or copy of a speaking order explaining reasons for non-disclosure of information with reference to any of 8 exemption/s u/s 13 (1) of the Act, then such PIO is liable for award of penalty for said omission alone.
- A PIO is a bridge between citizens and public body and a guide for approaching citizens, therefore, he display basic rules of procedure outside his/her office.
- In case of filling of a RTI Complaint/Appeal before Punjab Information Commission, a PIO is under obligation to extend his/her assistance and quick implementation of the order of Commission.