In Assam, Colleges are provincialised by the Government. Now question arises whether a college can be considedred as a public authority and there must be a PIO at every college?
As per the Act,
5(1). Every public authority shall, ......, designate as many officers as the Central Public Information Officers or State Public Information Officers, as the case may be, in all administrative units or offices under it as may be necessary to provide information to persons requesting for the information under this Act.
(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of sub-section (/), every public authority shall designate an officer, within one hundred days of the enactment of this Act, at each sub-divisional level or other sub-district level as a Central Assistant Public Information Officer or a State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, to receive the applications for infbrmation or appeals under this Act for forwarding the same forthwith to the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or senior officer specified under sub-section (/) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be: Provided that where an application for information or appeal is given to a Central Assistant Public Information Officer or a State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, a period of five days shall be added in computing the period for response specified under sub-section (/) of section 7.
(3) Every Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall deal with requests from persons seeking information and render reasonable assistance to the persons seeking such information.
(4) The Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may seek the assistance of any other officer as he or she considers it necessary for the proper discharge of his or her duties.
(5) Any officer, whose assistance has been sought under sub-section (4), shall render all assistance to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, seeking his or her assistance and for the purposes of any contravention of the provisions of this Act, such other officer shall be treated as a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be.
The facts are:
a) At college level the Principal is the administrative head. Whether he/she can be considered as an officer?
b) There is no other officer at college, all others are teachers.
c) The Colleges are under the Directorate of Higher Education and there is a SPIO who is of the rank Deputy Director.
d) The teachers are appointed by the Director as per the norms of the State Government.
e) If the Principal requests any teacher/ Assistant Prof/ Associate Prof to act as the PIO then he / she may not accept as it is beyond his prescribed duty.
f) The principal can only inform the matter to the Director that no teacher is ready to accept the responsibility of PIO.
Under the situation who will act as the PIO for any querries under RTI Act?
If colleges are to be considered as a public authority then all schools, from primery to higher secondary, are also public authorities and every where there must be a PIO.
Similar should be the case in all branches or units of any government offices or establishments.
Please put your valued opinion.