The Central Information Commission (CIC) has pulled up Air India (AI) for holding back information on free travel provided to its top brass, ministers and parliamentarians sought under a Right to Information (RTI) Act application and set a 15-day deadline for the national carrier to make public such information.
Mail Today on May 28 reported how AI has been liberally doling out as many as 12-24 free tickets annually on its domestic and international network to family members of its huge army of 23,000 employees. Strangely, the AI management last year decided to continue offering free tickets to sons and daughters-in-law of its employees as well, the Mail Today report had further stated.
Issuing a show-cause notice to AI demanding explanation on why it did not give the information within the mandated 30 days, information commissioner Yashowardhan Azad directed the carrier to make it public within 15 days and submit a written submission latest by October 10.
Azad also asked AI to show cause as to why penalty should not be imposed on it under Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act for not providing information within the prescribed period. AI respondents cut a sorry figure as they were not in a position to answer CIC over the delay in furnishing the information because they had brought the wrong file of the same applicant.
The case relates to an application filed by RTI activist Subhash Agrawal, who wanted to know the guidelines regarding free air travel extended to ministers, parliamentarians, civil aviation ministry officials, and AI officials and their family members. He had also sought information on the estimated annual cost to AI for providing such free air travel.
Agrawal had also sought the copy of minutes of meetings of 'Committee on violation of protocol-norms and contemptuous behaviour of government officers with members of the Lok Sabha' in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. When information was not provided to Agrawal, he approached the CIC.
The airline has been reluctant in replying to RTI queries in several instances. In some cases, the office of the chief vigilance commissioner has also instructed to AI to furnish details of RTI queries related to corruption and other complaints but the carrier has largely declined to furnish details.
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