RTI query on Cochin medical college gets a 'misleading' reply

Bypassing the RTI Act stipulation that queries should be answered   even if they are filed in the wrong office,

Published: 03rd September 2013 10:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd September 2013 10:43 AM   |  A+A-

Bypassing the RTI Act stipulation that queries should be answered   even if they are filed in the wrong office, the district administration is reluctant to reveal the details of asset liability report of the Cochin  Medical College (CMC).

An applicant, who approached the District Administration seeking a copy of CMC asset liability report, was told in an ambiguous reply that the report was available with Higher Education secretary, which legal experts say is  misleading.

The application was filed by Dr N K Sanil, a urologist, who is a volunteer of the movement demanding the takeover of CMC by the state government.

In the reply issued to Dr Sanil by Public Information Officer K J Mary Jessintha, it is stated that the applicant may approach the office of the Higher Educational Secretary to get a copy of the report.

Dr Sanil alleges anomalies in the reply. According to him, the reply is misleading.

“As far as I know, the office of the Higher Education has nothing to do with the CMC takeover. It would be logical if I was asked to approach the Department of Health and Family Welfare or the office of the Chief Minister, or Director of Medical Education,” points out Dr Sanil.

He alleges that the reply was given after the time stipulated for it  expired. “I received an acknowledgment for my application on July 20. Though the reply was dated August 19, it reached my Tripunithura address on August 31. It  may be noted that it took 12 days for the cover to it to reach  Thripunithura from Kakkanad,” he added.

According to RTI experts, there was nothing illegal in the reply but is misguiding.

“The authorities can argue that they did not reject the application but directed the applicant to approach another office. If an applicant files RTI query with a wrong office, it is the responsibility of that office to forward it to the correct office and get the details and hand it over to the applicant. In this particular case, it is not mentioned whether the office of the Higher Education secretary was linked to CMC takeover. It is also not mentioned whether a fresh application has to be filed or it will be provided on production of this reply.

In that sense it is misguiding,” points out advocate R V Sreejith, an RTI expert, who practices at the High Court.

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