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CIC to govt: Make ministers’ work allocation public

NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission has directed the government to put in public domain the work distribution between a cabinet minister and minister of state.

Addressing a matter in which the finance ministry had denied information on the list of departments from which finance minister had called for papers and on work allocation between the finance minister and minister of state, Information Commissioner Bimal Julka stressed on the need for proactive disclosure of work allocation.

“Information pertaining to the allocation of work between the ministers (both cabinet rank and ministers of state) should be suo motu disclosed on the website of the public authority in the interest of the public at large,” Julka said in his order dated December 17. “The commission observed that a voluntary disclosure of all information that ought to be displayed in the public domain should be the rule and members of public who having to seek information should be an exception.” The decision comes on a complaint from RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak who had filed an application in the finance ministry in March 2018. He had asked for a list of departments from which the finance minister had called for papers involving financial consideration, between September 1, 2017 and March 2018, and work allocation. The ministry gave just a one-word reply: “Nil”.

Nayak then approached the CIC with a complaint. During the hearing, the finance ministry submitted, “A suitable reply was provided by the CPIO (central public information officer) based on the inputs from the office of finance minister as ‘Nil’ information since the desired information was not available at their office in a compiled format.” The ministry also argued that the information sought was very voluminous.

The information commissioner, however, asked the ministry to give a list of department within 15 days and allowed all other information sought. “The public authority is advised to develop/ update their website and publish the details of the nodal CPIOs as also the details of allocation of work amongst ministers (both cabinet rank and minister of state) updated periodically whenever modifications/changes are effected in the interest of the public at large.”

Source: Economic Times