Grievance petitions forwarded by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) seem to be going missing once they land in the administrative departments for action.
The State Information Commission (SIC), which stumbled upon such a fact, has directed the General Administration department to issue a comprehensive guideline about disposal of such petitions emanating from the office of the CM as well as the Chief Secretary.
In a significant order, the commission has called for a robust tracking system and monitoring of such petitions at the highest office of public administration in the State. “The services of Odisha Modernising Government Initiatives should be roped in through a revamped web-enabled process so as to enable the citizens to track the current status of grievance petitions,” Information Commissioner Jagadanand stated in the order.
The commission came across the fact after one Chitta Ranjan Mishra filed an appeal seeking details of action taken by the GA department on certain queries posed by him to the office of the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary. When Mishra got no response, he filed an appeal with the SIC which asked for details only to find that no action has been taken by the department.
Using the power vested as per the Right To Information Act, the commission appointed the Commission-cum-Secretary to the Parliamentary Affairs department as an authorised officer to conduct an inquiry as to how RTI application has been dealt at various levels and identify the officials responsible for the delay.
While the inquiry found that there was initial delay in transferring the RTI applications from the RTI cell of the GA department to the official concerned, what it stumbled upon was grave in nature.
The report by the authorised officer revealed that after being sent from the CMO, both the grievance petitions of the appellant received at GA and Housing and Urban Development departments were found to be lost. The authorised office also suggested appropriate action against the errant officials and indicated steps for reconstruction of the lost files.
In its order, the Information Commission expressed dismay at the loss of the files observing that there is no system prevalent in the department to monitor the movement of the letters and petitions that are being received from the CMO. This is, no doubt, a serious matter which calls for urgent intervention to contain the situation, the SIC observed and ordered that officials receiving the mails should use full signature instead of short ones.
The SIC ordered that an official should be kept in-charge of monitoring the progress of work related to RTI applications as well as grievance petitions right from the day of receipt till their disposal.