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Information provided under RTI Act cannot be withheld from MPs: Delhi Assembly

A three-member committee formed by the Delhi Assembly to look into the Service Department’s refusal to respond to questions posed by MPs has submitted its report stating that information provided under the RTI Act cannot be withheld from legislators, sources said on Saturday.

The committee, formed by order of Vice President Rakhi Birla during last week’s assembly session, also observed that departments which like other Delhi government departments should be accountable to the Delhi Assembly , the sources said.

It is learned that the committee has recommended that the Delhi NCT government take appropriate steps to ensure that responses to questions raised by MPs in the Assembly are duly handled by the Services Department.

It also recommended that in the event of non-receipt of replies, the secretaries and department heads concerned be held personally responsible and prosecuted by the Assembly.

The three-member committee included AAP MPs Rajesh Gupta, Atishi and Somnath Bharti, in its report pointed out that Delhi MPs raised 347 starred and unstarred questions in the House regarding the service department.

Members asked 321 questions through 2018, which were largely answered, 26 questions posed from 2019 were denied answers by the Services Department, citing the queries under the ‘reserved’ list of the Center.

The Services Department controlled by the Lieutenant Governor, after an order issued by the Center in 2018 stopped answering questions if deputies asked in the House, the sources said.

The Committee noted that “because departmental expenditures and salaries are drawn from the budget passed by the Legislative Assembly, the Department (Services) should continue to be accountable to the House.”

She also retained the “non-responsiveness” of the service department as

“unconstitutional act” and an act against the public interest, sources said.

The report also stated that the then Additional Chief (Domestic) Secretary, BS Bhalla, filed in the Privileges Committee in September 2021 that any information that may be provided under the RTI Act should also be provided to MPs.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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