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CIC finally slams BCI hard for continually failing RTI disclosure of law school inspections: Publish on web or max penalty

Mishra forewarned: Publish RTI info on web or pay Rs 25K
Mishra forewarned: Publish RTI info on web or pay Rs 25K
The Bar Council of India (BCI) has not satisfactorily complied with the Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI Act) provision which requires that it publish all its affairs on its website, held the Central Information Commission (CIC). The CIC said it is inclined to impose maximum penalty on BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra if the BCI doesn’t comply in a definite amount of time, reported the Economic Times.

Chief Information Commissioner Prof Sridhar Acharyulu, formerly registrar at Nalsar Hyderabad, stated in his 7 April order:

“[…] it is noticed that the Bar Council of India has not satisfactorily complied with the section  4(1)(b) requirements.  It is a major breach of RTI by  prestigious organization called BCI.  It is also  surprising that they are repeatedly taking a plea that, though they have such information in  computer, they have not posted it on website.   They have already exhausted 10 years of time in  fulfilling this obligation.   Commission directs the public authority to furnish annual report in  compliance with 4(1)(b), as required under section 19(8)(a)(vi)  and directs the PIO to show cause  why maximum penalty should not be imposed for this breach of RTI.   Commission directs the  Chairman, BCI to file an affidavit explaining when they would be complying with 4(1)(b) on their  official website.   All the responses should reach the commission by May 9, 2016.  If not,  Commission will be compelled to initiate appropriate action against the Chairman, BCI for noncompliance of section 4(1)(b) […]”

The CIC was hearing the appeal of an RTI applicant KR Chitra who had asked to see the inspection reports of all colleges and universities which the BCI has inspected since 2010. The BCI’s public information commissioner (PIO) – currently the BCI’s joint secretary Ashok Kumar Pandey – had submitted that it was impossible to provide this information, due to its size, unless the applicant narrows down her query. She refused to narrow it down.

Maximum penalty applicable under the RTI Act is Rs 25,000, as per Section 20(1).

The BCI’s track record on RTI queries has been dismal in general, ever since the tenure of former BCI chairman Gopal Subramanium ended – Subramanium had published its minutes on its website. Its turnaround on RTI applications is usually of several months, if at all – but often the regulator ignores and obfuscates queries under the RTI. The BCI has even travelled to the extent of asking bar examinees a waiver of their RTI rights.

Download here: http://www.rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SA_A_2016_000023_M_182907.pdf

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