THE Central Information Commission on June 5 issued an advisory to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to publish a comprehensive list of all designated COVID healthcare facilities from across India within 15 days. The directions have been given in a complaint filed by transparency activist Venkatesh Nayak. His RTI applications, that were stonewalled, had sought information on district-wise number of hospitals and healthcare facilities that had been designated as COVID-19 treatment centres. The Ministry transferred the RTI application to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR); when it should have provided a substantial reply.
The CIC conducted the hearing on June 1, 2020, through a WhatsApp call with five CPIOs representing all the Respondent Public Authorities. All of them denied having units that had a comprehensive list of hospitals and treatment centres designated for the purpose of treating COVID-19 infected patients.
Expressing its displeasure at this state of affairs, the CIC advised the Ministry to designate an officer to examine the matter and suo motu disclose the information on the website within fifteen days. It noted the legal duty of CPIOs to responsibly facilitate flow of information instead of shifting the onus onto other officials and said
“…. it is their responsibility to facilitate flow of information instead of simply shifting the onus of disclosing the same to other Public Authority/ officials.”
Read the Order here: