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Facts panel censure for officer

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By SOUMEN BHATTACHARJEE
  • Published 22.12.06
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The state information commission on Thursday came down on principal information officer and joint secretary of the cooperation department H.P. Roy for supplying wrong information to city-based trader Saroj Khettry.

“It appears, prima facie, that Roy had intentionally supplied wrong information to Khettry. We slapped a notice asking him to explain why he should not be penalised,” said state chief information commissioner Arun Bhattacharya.

Roy pleaded on Thursday that the information sought by Khettry was not available with the cooperation department and a clerical error had resulted in misleading data being provided to the trader.

The commission ruled out the possibility of a clerical error and seized the relevant file to verify Roy’s claim.

“If it is found that the principal information officer is not telling the truth, he will have to face penal action,” asserted Bhattacharya.

For 25 years, Khettry had sought, to no avail, a copy of the legal opinion that the cooperation department had obtained regarding a case pertaining to the ownership of a Jhowtala Road flat that the trader had been forced to vacate.

When Khettry filed a case under the Right to Information Act, the department supplied wrong information to him.

“During the process, you never mentioned that you do not possess the record. It is only after the showcause that you came up with the explanation that the data is missing. If it was missing, you should have mentioned that in your earlier correspondences and should not have provided wrong information to Khettry,” the commission’s order stated.

An official of the cooperation department said: “We do not have the infrastructure to maintain records. An officer can be transferred for an error, but the one who replaces him might be ignorant about the entire process.”