Telangana Chief Secretary K Somesh Kumar has issued a Government Order directing Special Chief Secretaries and head of departments to “verify” applications before divulging details.

Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar addressing the mediaFile photo of Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar
news RTI Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - 18:26

In a controversial move, the Telangana government has issued an internal Government Order, which effectively delays replies for queries under the Right to Information (RTI) and curtails fundamental rights of a citizen. In the internal order issued on October 13, Chief Secretary K Somesh Kumar stated that the State Public Information Officers are sharing information to the Right to Information (RTI) applicants “without proper verification” and directed Special Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries to instruct the officers to furnish replies only after seeking approval.

The order reads, “it has come to the notice of the undersigned that the State Public Information Officers designated/ appointed under the Right to Information Act, 2005, in certain administrative units or offices are furnishing information to the applicants in a routine manner without proper verification of the records with reference to the information sought for by the application.”

It further adds, “Therefore, all the Special Chief Commissioners/Principal Secretaries/Secretaries to the Government are requested to instruct the Public Information Officers designated/appointed in their office to obtain orders of the Special Chief Secretaries/Principal Secretaries/Secretaries to the Government/Head of the Department, before furnishing the information to the applicant under Right to Information Act, 2005.”

The Chief Secretary’s new diktat has been slammed by several including former Chief Information Commissioner Madabushi Sridhar. 

“The consequences of this order does not go well with the spirit of the RTI Act. Every Public Information Officer (PIO) is supposed to be an independent authority however he/she has to follow the policy laid down by the government. A PIO is a nut in the machinery. But the recent order where in every application must seek the permission of the head of departments will create a lot of administrative hurdles in terms of manpower and infra, and nobody will be able to take an independent decision.” the former CIC was quoted as saying by News Meter.

Former IAS officer, Akunuri Murali too has criticized the decision and called it an “atrocious” one. “This is an atrocious act of Telangana Govt; curbing the rights given to the citizen by RTI. This means that the Govt wants to operate in the dark and hide everything from citizens,” he wrote on Twitter.

Former State Information Commissioner R Dileep Reddy also protesting the move, said, “Issuing instructions to the same set of senior officers is against the provisions of law & spirit of the Act. This will prevent the smooth flow of information into the public domain. This is further dilution of RTIA as GOI has already diluted this Act with unwanted & unwarranted amendments,”. 


 

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