Failing to evoke any response from the GDA despite repeated orders from First Appellate Authority, RTI activist Alok Kumar now plans to initiate court action and also raise the issue with UP CM Yogi Adityanath.
A Ghaziabad-based RTI activist is raising fingers at the Ghaziabad Development Authority for withholding information and suppressing vital details from the public. The allegations are based on the authority’s repeated shying away from responding to an RTI query.
Alok Kumar, the activist, had filed an RTI query in December 2016. The query sought details of illegal commercial activities in residential areas of Ghaziabad and details of the action initiated against such developments. However, getting no response from the GDA, Kumar approached the First Appellate Authority with an appeal (first appeal) to get hold of the information. In an order dated February 28, 2017, the appellate authority ordered the officials of the GDA to respond to the queries within 15 days from the date of the order.
According to the RTI Act, the first appeal can be filed if information is not received within 35 days (keeping 5 days extra for postal delays) of the date of filing of the RTI application.
However, the order failed to draw any response. Kumar, once again, approached the First Appellate Authority with another appeal for the same RTI query. Following this, the authority, once again, ordered the Public Information Officer of Zone 6 of GDA on July 12 to respond to the queries within 15 days. However, Kumar said the second order, too, failed to draw any response.
Speaking to City Spidey, Kumar said laxity of officials in responding to the queries has decreased the integrity of the RTI Act.
Kumar cited another instance where he had sought details from the Greater Noida Authority about under-construction projects in 2014. Although the query did not draw a satisfactory response, an official of the authority was penalised. In a similar turn of events, the Uttar Pradesh Information Commission ordered a deduction of Rs 25,000 from the Public Information Officer’s salary almost three years later in September 2017. The imposed penalty amount is the highest limit which can be imposed according to the provisions of the RTI Act.
However, Kumar maintained that the purpose of his query was not served and that rampant corruption continues. “The penalty is meagre in comparison to the corruption involved and the delay in providing information also destroys its original purpose. Approaching the information commission also does not seem to be a viable option due to the delay,” he added.
Regarding the RTI query to GDA, Kumar said that apart from approaching the Uttar Pradesh Information Commission, they were also planning to approach the Allahabad High Court to get a viable solution. “We are planning to approach the court with the issue, and also raise it with the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh,” he said.