The Punjab Information Commission Punjab has finally declared the Virsa Vihar Society,Virsa Vihar Sadan, Taylor Road, Gandhi Ground, Amritsar as a Public Authority under the Right to Information Act 2011. The RTI application was filed by one Mr. Balwinder Singh of Amritsar one 08 March last to the Deputy Commissioner Amritsar demanding details of expenditure incurred on ‘ heritage festival’ that the Virsa Vihar Society had organized at Amritsar from February 18 – 20, 2011.
This request was transferred under Section 6(3) by the office of Deputy Commissioner to the PIO-cum- President Virsa Vihar Society, Mr. Kewal Dhaliwal. Consequently, on 08 April 2011, the President of the Virsa Vihar Society wrote to the information-seeker that the Society is a private organization and it is not covered under any government or semi-government department. Not satisfied with the response, a complaint was filed with the Commission on 04.05.2011.
after arguments on the last date of hearing on 18 November 2011, the order was reserved for 30 November 2011. In the order dated dated 30 November 2011 commission held that:
In view of the foregoing, there is not an iota of doubt that the Society operates from a government building, whose construction was substantially financed (Rs. 117 Lakh) from MPLAD funds and is located on land owned by the Government. For February 18-20 February, 2011 Virasat Mela, it received a sum of Rs. 20 Lakh from the Director, Cultural Affairs on the recommendation of the Deputy Commissioner. Also, District Administration holds ample away over the Society”.
It was further held by the commission that:
“Therefore, I declare Virsa Vihar Society a “Public Authority” under Section 2 (h) of the Act. The Society is directed to appoint a PIO/FAA, besides providing the requisite information, as per original RTI request, dated 08.03.2011, to the complainant before the next date of hearing and submit a compliance report to the commission. The case is adjourned to 19.12.2011 (Monday) at 11:00 A.M. in Chamber/Court”.