CIC directs Health Ministry to upload information on government response to COVID-19 on website 

The Central Information Commission has directed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to compile all the measures taken by various ministries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The said information is to be listed on the ministry’s website in chronological order.
The Commission was hearing a complaint filed by an RTI applicant seeking the following information:

  • the date when the Government of India first received information on the virus affecting China
  • a copy of the communication
  • whether any communication was received by the Government of India about a possible pandemic like situation in India between the period of November 2019 to March 2020 and a copy of the same.

Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Jhulka observed that very pertinent information pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic situation was sought by the RTI applicant, which could not be made available by the Government. 
The applicant had also sought copies of the reports/communications/memos relating to declaration of health emergency by any officers/experts and other issues thereto.
“These and similar such issues are being debated and contested at various public fora and therefore it is the considered view of the Commission that authentic, verified and cogent reply based on factual information needs to be furnished to the Complainant as also disclose on the Public Authority website for the benefit of public at large”, the Commission directed. 
The application shuttled from one Division of the Public Authority to another. The commission noted that this indicates the urgency in notifying a Nodal Authority in the ministry to compile, collate and consolidate the information. It underlined the importance of effectively acting and uploading such information suo motu on its website.
The Commission advised the Secretary, Health & Family Welfare to examine the matter at an appropriate level. It directed the Nodal Authority, who is to be notified, should furnish all the details in a clear and precise manner within 30 days from the date of receipt of the order.
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