CIC questions SSC for appointing schizophrenic information officer

Taking a lenient stand, the CIC has decided not to impose penalty on a schizophrenic central public information officer in the Staff Selection Commission for delay in processing an RTI application but expressed surprise over her appointment in the department.

"We do not think it is just to impose any penalty on her even though she had not acted on the RTI application when she first received it because of her peculiar medical conditions. We wonder why and how the SSC had chosen her as the CPIO. Now that she is out of the SSC, we can only hope that the SSC would select the CPIOs carefully and not burden physically and mentally afflicted officers with this additional responsibility," Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra said in his order.

Allahabad-resident Ram Krishna Gupta had filed two RTI applications September 16, 2010 and December 8, 2010 to the then CPIO Jyoti Gulati in the SSC. Gulati had given a combined reply on January 10, 2011.

"While her reply was within the time limit of the second RTI application, it was late for the first application. The said CPIO has to show cause why she should not be penalised for not giving the information in time for one of these RTI applications," the CIC held in its earlier order.

The SSC officer, present in the last hearing, was directed by the Commission to find out Gulati's current place of posting (she had been transferred from SSC during the course of time) and send her a copy of CIC's order so that she can appear before the transparency panel.

"We had directed the then CPIO, presently posted outside the SSC, to appear before us and show cause why we should not impose penalty on her for not responding and providing any information in time when she had received the first RTI application from the appellant. Today, the officer concerned, presently under posting to the Ministry of Home Affairs, appeared before us and submitted that she had been undergoing treatment for some years now for schizophrenia and this affliction rendered her sometimes incapable of dealing with matters coming up before her," Mishra said in his order given last week.

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