CIC Raps J&K Bank Over Denial of Information

J&K Bank Headquarters in Srinagar – File Pic

Srinagar: Reprimanding the J&K Bank for denying information under the Right to Information Act, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has warned of serious action under the relevant sections of law against the bank, if the information in connection with the financing of solar lights was not provided to the appellant by October 15, 2021.

Aggrieved over non receipt of the information from the J&K Bank, the appellant had approached the erstwhile State Information Commission (SIC) in 2019 with a Second Appeal. The SIC in its interim order dated 28-08-2019 directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) of J&K Bank to provide information to the appellant within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of the order.

Even though the J&K Bank failed to provide the requested information, the case was then transferred to the CIC which had issued a notice to both the parties. However, the PIO of the bank neither appeared nor sent any submission justifying absence during the hearing.

In the final decision, Y.K. Sinha, the Chief Information Commissioner had observed that there was no question that the J&K Bank is a Public Authority, in terms of the order dated 24-04-2012 passed by the SIC, J&K.

“But directions given by the SIC vide order dated 28.08.2019 to the J&K Bank have not been complied with as yet as per records,” Y.K Sinha said “Perusal of records of the case and averments of the appellant reveal that information sought by the appellant has been denied in blatant violation of the provisions of the RTI Act”.

He further added that none is present on behalf of the J&K Bank during the virtual hearing despite service of advance notice of the hearing on 25-08-2021. “The absence of the concerned PIO during the hearing has thus vitiated the proceedings as such disregard of the RTI Act cannot be accepted.”

Subsequently, considering the unexplained and willful denial of information in response to the filed RTI and the unexplained absence of the J&K Bank’s PIO, the CIC issued a show cause notice to the J&K Bank PIO for his deliberate denial of information embarking a violation of the RTI Act.

The CIC has directed the PIO to submit a reply to the show cause notice to justify why no penal action should be initiated against him in terms of the RTI Act, 2005.

“The reply must reach the Commission by 15-10-2021 failing which action shall be initiated on the basis of available records,” the commissioner ordered.

It is pertinent to mention here that the J&K Bank was declared as a Public Authority as per section 2 of the J&K RTI Act, 2009. The then State Information Commission had directed the Chairman and CEO of the Bank to designate First Appellate Authority, Public Information Officer and Assistant Public Information Officers to provide information to residents of the erstwhile state under the Act in the most transparent manner.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

A media graduate from LPU, Zaid Bin Shabir is a Srinagar based journalist whose works have appeared in many local and international publications.

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