The Central Information Commission (CIC) has written to the Anti-Corruption Bureau about “widespread and organised activity of illegal and unauthorised construction” and noted that complaints to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) have had “no impact”.
The remark came on an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by Sanjay Kumar, a resident of Kabir Basti in north Delhi.
He had sought information regarding unauthorised construction in the Subzi Mandi area. He approached the CIC after he did not get a satisfactory response from the MCD.
“Law-abiding citizens in Delhi are at their wits’ end to get a method of stopping the widespread illegal constructions in Delhi. Scores of RTI applications and complaints to the MCD appear to have no impact at all and citizens start losing faith in the existence of a rule of law,” information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said during a hearing March 25.
The MCD was represented by R. Prasad, deputy commissioner, Civil Lines Zone.
“The appellant has made a number of complaints to the deputy commissioner, Civil Lines Zone (R. Prasad)…It is apparent that the MCD is unwilling to take any action on complaints of such unauthorised constructions,” Gandhi observed.
“Some of the information is still balanced and it is claimed that regularisation and sealing file is not obtainable since nobody knows where it is. This is a file relating to 2008 about unauthorised construction and, hence, it may well have been stolen,” he said.
“The PIO (Public Information Officer) states that he is not able to get the cooperation of his officers in the MCD in spite of repeated verbal and written reminders,” he added.
“The commission has also filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Bureau about such widespread and organised activity of illegal and unauthorised construction in the capital city of this country,” Gandhi added.
The CIC directed the PIO to “locate the file and provide the information to the appellant before April 10, 2010″.
“If the file is not located, he will (have to) file a police complaint about the theft of the file, giving the names of the officers who last handled it and send a copy of the police complaint to the appellant and the commission before April 20, 2010,” Gandhi ordered.
The commission also held the MCD’s PIO R. Prasad and other deemed PIOs responsible for not following the RTI Act properly as they did not reply to applications within 30 days, as mandated under the Act.
The commission issued a showcause notice, asking “why penalty should not be levied on them?”
“From the facts before the commission, it is apparent that the PIO and the deemed PIOs are guilty of not furnishing information within the time specified under the (RTI Act) by not replying within 30 days. It appears that the PIO and deemed PIOs’ actions attract the penal provisions,” Gandhi said.
“A showcause notice is being issued to them, and they are directed to give their reasons to the commission to show cause why penalty should not be levied on them,” he said.
He also directed the MCD officials to attend the next hearing April 23 with “written submissions” showing why they should not be penalised.
“If there are other people responsible for the delay in providing the information to the appellant, the PIO is directed to inform such people of the showcause hearing and direct them to appear before the commission with him,” Gandhi added