The Central Information Commission on Monday decided to continue disposal of cases only on the basis of written submissions of parties as Delhi is placed under a lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, an order said.
The decision was taken at an emergency meeting convened by Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka following an advisory by the Department of Personnel and Training on preventive steps to contain the spread of the virus.
The officials observed that being a "quasi-judicial" body, the panel will take call on case to case basis any request for personal appearance during its hearings for disposal of appeals and complaints filed by RTI applicants.
The Commission will also explore "intensive use of technology of tools" for the disposal of cases during the lockdown following which a review of situation will be done on March 31.
"The Commission is using technology in a big way. I did audio/video conference today and good response," Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka told PTI.
It was a surprise for many applicants to get a call directly from the Chief Information Commissioner who kept disposing cases from home using audio conference, sources close to him said.
Julka said if this experiment of audio conference gets successful, the Commission may institutionalise it to save time, money and energy of applicants and government officials.
The Commission, burdened with over 35,000 pending appeals and complaints is on a tight rope to prevent increase in the backlog and follow the lockdown to ensure safety of applicants, officials and it staffers.
"In view of theextraordinarysituationrequiring extraordinary action, disbursement of salary for allofficers and staffersincluding thoseworkingas contractual consultants will be done onthe basis of salary drawn for the month of February 2020 as far as possible," the minutes of the meeting said.
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