The Uttar Pradesh State Information Commission has asked a public information officer to feed midday meals to 250 school students in Ghazipur as a “symbolic punishment” for delay in replying to an RTI request.
RTI applicant Bhupendra Kumar Pandey had sought information about development work in Noonra village in Ghazipur district under the RTI Act in 2016.
However, village development officer and PIO of Noonra village Chandrika Prasad did not respond to the RTI within the stipulated time period of 30 days.
Hearing the application moved by Pandey, Information Commissioner Ajay Kumar Uprety on Monday directed Prasad to serve meals to students of a primary school in the village on April 29.
Uprety also asked the official to record the act and submit the video to the commission while ensuring that the expenditure on the meals does not exceed Rs 25,000.
“Generally, we impose a cash penalty of Rs 25,000 on the PIOs who cause delay in providing information under the RTI Act,” Uprety told PTI.
However, Prasad didn't deliberately cause the delay and has been given a “symbolic and out-of-the-box punishment”, Uprety said, adding that the real culprit is former village development officer and PIO (Panchayati Raj department) Gopal Singh who has been fined Rs 25,000 under section 20(1) of the RTI Act.
Under the RTI Act, PIOs are supposed to provide the information within 30 days of receiving the RTI application.
If the PIOs do not abide by this order, the commission can recommend disciplinary action under the service rules applicable to them under section 20(2) of the RTI Act.