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A detailed blog on using RTI

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jps50

RTI applicants face the problem of language of reply, especially if the information is sought from other states. I had sought information from BBMP [municipalcorporation] Bengaluru and had requested that information be supplied in English. However, I received a reply in Kannada and I had to email to my relative to translate it.

I append below relevant extract from a judgment of High Court of Uttarakhand.

I infer that information supplied in language which the applicant does not understand is no information. PIO should supply either in English, Hindi or State language of PIO as per the choice of the applicant.

Recently, in Gujarat entire land acquisition process was declared invalid because notices were published in Gujarati newspapers, but notices were in Hindi which most of the affected farmers do not understand. 

I hope this will be useful to applicants.

LANGUAGE OF REPLY.doc

jps50

Haryana Govt has amended RTI rules from 18-03-2016 and revised rules are as under:

 

HARYANA RIGHT TO INFORMATION RULES 2009 AMEDNDED 2016

 

[2005 rules replaced by 2009 on 21-12-2009 effective from 01-01-2010]

[Again amended on 18-03-2016 –filing fee reduced to Rs.10/-, CD Rs.50 and inspection first hour free and thereafter Rs.5/- per hour or part thereof beyond first hour]

 

1. APPLICATION:

 

The rules provide for a format for application under RTI Act called Form-A, which is annexed herewith.

 

2. FEES:

 

A. Application fee: Rs.10/- to be paid by bank’s demand draft or pay order or Indian Postal Order [iPO] or in cash against receipt or through treasury challan. Applicants holding BPL certificate need not pay any application fee.

 

Payment by IPO should be preferred being cheap and convenient. IPO should be in favour of “Accounts Officer, [mention name of public authority i.e. govt dept/organization etc]” and should be made payable at the place where application is sent.

 

B. Other charges: Information in A-3 or A-4 size paper….Rs.2/- per page, Large size: actual cost, publications: actual cost. CD Rs.50/- per CD. Inspection: Free for first hour and if exceeds one hour Rs.5/- for each hour or part thereof beyond first hour.

 

3. APPEALS:

 

Rules do not provide for formats for first appeal, second appeal/complaint. No fees are charged for appeals.

Suggested formats for appeals/complaint are annexed hereunder.

 

4. Address of State Information Commission, Haryana:

 

State Information Commission, Haryana,

SCO No. 70-71, Sector 8-C, Chandigarh.

Telephone No. 0172-2726568, Fax No. 0172-2783834

Website: http://cicharyana.gov.in/

 

5. HARYANA State Format for RTI Application:

 

The Right to Information Act, 2005

 

Form A [see rule 3 (1)]

 

To

The State Public Information Officer/

State Assistant Public Information Officer,

(Name of the office with address)

 

1. Full name of the applicant:

 

2. Address:

 

3. Particulars of information required:-

(i) Subject matter of information*

(ii) The period to which the information relates**

(iii) Description of the information required***

(iv) Whether information is required by post or in person

(the actual postal charges shall be included in addition to the fees.)

(v) In case by post (Ordinary, Registered or Speed)

 

4. IPO No. ____________for Rs.10/- is enclosed.

 

Place:

 

Date:

 

Signature of the Applicant

 

* Broad category of the subject to be indicated (such as Grant/Government land/ Service matters/Licenses etc.)

** Relevant period for which information is required to be indicated.

*** Specific details of the information are required to be indicated.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Received your application dated _______________ ,-- vide Diary No.______________ dated _____________ .

(Signature)

State Public Information Officer/ State Assistant Public Information Officer, Name of the Department/Office

_____________________________________________________

 

6. HARYANA State Format for First Appeal:

 

The Right to Information Act, 2005

First Appeal

 

Date:______________

 

To

The Appellate Authority By regd AD post

(Department/office)………………

 

Sir,

As I have not received any decision/As I am aggrieved by the decision of the Public Information Officer…………, I hereby file this appeal. The particulars of my application are as under:

 

 

  1. Name of the appellant :
  2. Address of appellant :
  3. (A) Designation of the State Public Information Officer :

Address of State Public Information Officer:

(B) Department/office and address :

© Particulars of the decision against which the

appeal is preferred including the No. &

Date of such decision.

 

  1. Date of application submitted in the Form A :
  2. Details of Information sought: as per enclosed form A

6. Reasons for Appeal:

7. Brief facts of the case.

8. Prayer/relief’s sought for :

 

A] The information sought be ordered to be supplied immediately by registered post at my address.

 

B] The information be now supplied to me free of cost.

 

C] CPIO be advised to permit inspection of record, as requested by me. [if applicable]

 

D] I should be fully compensated for not supplying information in prescribed time limit.

 

E] Disciplinary action be initiated for not complying with the law against erring officers.

 

9. Enclosures: Self attested copies of RTI application, reply of SPIO [if received], postal proof of mailing RTI application.

 

I hereby state that the information and particulars given above are true to the best of my knowledge and brief.

 

Place Signature of Appellant

 

___________________________________________________

 

7. HARYANA State suggested format for second appeal/complaint:

SEOND APPEAL/COMPLAINT

TO STATE INFORMATION COMMISSION, HARYANA

 

Date: By speed post AD

 

 

To,

State Chief Information Commissioner,

State Information Commission, Haryana,

SCO No. 70-71, Sector 8-C, Chandigarh.

 

Respected Sir,

 

As I have not received any decision/As I am aggrieved by the decision of the PIO & First Appellate Authority, I here by file this second appeal/complaint for your kind consideration. The particulars are as under:

 

[1) Full name of the Applicant :

 

 

[2] Address of Applicant with

phone No. and email ID if any :

 

 

(3) Name and address of StatePublic Information Officer:

 

No. and date of reply if received:

 

(4) Name and address of the First Appellate Authority:

 

 

No. and date of reply if received:

 

[5] Date of receipt of order of first appellate authority :

 

 

(6) Particulars of information sought- as per enclosed RTI application

 

(7) Brief facts and grounds for appeal:

 

[8] PRAYER/Relief:

 

A] The information sought be ordered to be supplied immediately by registered post at my address.

 

B] The information be now supplied to me free of cost.

 

C] CPIO be advised to permit inspection of record, as requested by me. [if applicable]

 

D] Penalty as per RTI Act be imposed on PIO.

 

E] I should be fully compensated for not supplying information in prescribed time limit and breach of my right.

 

F] Disciplinary action be ordered to be initiated for not complying with the law against PIO & FAA

 

G] Public Authority be ordered to reimburse traveling and lodging-boarding expenses incurred by me for attending hearing.

 

H] Hon’ble Commission may order making an entry in service book/annual appraisal report of the concerned PIO & FAA for defying act of the parliament.

 

I] The hon’ble Commission be pleased to pass such other orders as deemed fit in the interest of justice and spirit of RTI.

 

(9) Enclosures: Self attested photo copies of the following documents :

 

A. Application in form A dated________ with its enclosures if any,

B. Reply dated ________of PIO if received, C. First Appeal dated ________D. Reply dated_______ to first appeal, if received, E. Postal proof of posting of Form A and first appeal.

 

[10]. Verification: I the undersigned hereby state that the information and particulars given here-in-above are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Place : Signature of Appellant/Complainant

[To be submitted in three copies to the Commission]

jps50

Most of PIOs deny information by just quoting sub-sections of section 8.1 of RTI Act, without giving meaningful justification for arriving at that reason for denial. This is against letter and spirit of RTI Act. I attach decisions of CIC and court judgments, which can be quoted in first and second appeals

Download the following file to prepare your Grounds of Appeal on -
 
LINK:
 

JUSTIFICATION FOR DENIAL.doc

jps50

I attach some of extracts from judgements of Hon'ble High Courts and Supreme Court relating to accountability of public servants. After getting information under RTI, citizens need to pursue the matter administratively or legally to fix accountability of public servants who wronged the common citizens. Unless accountability is fixed, public servants will continue to harass common men of India. There extracts may be quoted in petitions to public authorities and also in writs. Non-compliance with judgements or observations too have serious consequences for public servant, if matter is taken to logical conclusion.

jps50

WHY DO INFORMATION COMMISSIONERS NOT IMPOSE PENALTY?

  1. ICs are under the wrong impression that it is their discretion to levy or not to levy penalty at their will. In fact, once the breach of RTI Act is committed and not reasonably explained, the penalty must follow. 
  2. ICs are afraid because if they levy penalties, the serving govt officers may dig out their [ICs] misdoings when ICs were in service and ICs may have to face investigating agencies post-retirement.
  3. ICs want to follow the line of action and guidance given by political appointees
  4. ICs are attitudinally conditioned not to displease other govt officers and politicians, as they have been doing while in service, lest some day ICs may be exposed.
  5. Conceptually ICs have no respect for common citizens since they were uncommon citizens while in active service for a very long period of their lives.
  6. Heart in heart, ICs believe that govt servants and politicians are borne to rule in India and common Indian [mango] citizens are their subjects.
  7. ICs do not appreciate and internalize their own duties and responsibilities under RTI and continue to function as an administrative entity.
  8. ICs lack training in knowledge and attitude to effectively act as ICs.
  9. ICs treat appointment as post-retirement paid holiday time to enjoy bypassing routine and stereo-type orders [clerical or fill-in the blanks] without much taxing their minds. Imposing penalty requires the application of mind.
  10. ICs may have tie-up arrangement to absolve PIOs for a “fee”, as the majority of govt offices have in India [agents or touts].
  11. ICs do not believe that common Indians deserve transparency and time is not ripe for opening up governance to such immature mango citizens.
  12. Very few appellants will move higher courts [due to the prohibitive cost of litigation and exorbitant delay ] for information and penalty, while PIOs will challenge at public cost, any order of penalty and if it is not upheld, ICs may lose face.
  13. RTI appellants or complainants have not so far moved vigilance machinery of Govt against ICs absolving PIOs of penalties even in serious RTI violations, alleging corruption.
  14. Citizens do not move petitions to remove ICs to President or Governors for not imposing penalties in many cases, where it should have been definitely imposed.
  15. ICs are aware that they are totally overprotected by law for whatever decisions they take including not imposing penalties even in deserving cases.
  16. ICs psychologically want to retain their image of being very good, understanding and kind among govt staff, even at the cost of making RTI defunct affecting fundamental rights of common citizens.
  17. ICs know that after demitting post, they will be common men/women and will have to approach the same govt. staff for their mercies. Hence they do not risk offending govt staff for RTI violation by imposing the penalty.
  18. Some ICs believe that penalties will have a demoralizing effect on govt staff and may reduce their efficiency. ICs also know that poor PIOs are under pressure for not meticulously following RTI provisions, lest many of PIOs’ bosses [including politicians] and colleagues would land in trouble.
  19. ICs hasten to levy penalties when their authority is challenged by PIOs by being absent in hearing or not complying with ICs orders. However, ICs forget that in a democracy citizens are the supreme authority.
  20. ICs are under impression that getting information is important and not the penalty, irrespective of breach of provisions or harassment to information seekers.
  21. Some ICs believe that at least now citizens are getting information, which was not available to them prior to RTI enactment, hence he should not think of penalty, whether imposed or waived.
  22. ICs feel that appellant or complainant has no right to insist upon penalty. It is ICs exclusive domain. 
  23. ICs still hope that they may get some govt post even after demitting post of IC .
  24. India is a soft State even when it comes to terrorists and criminals. ICs give benefit to PIOs for civil violations of RTI, even when it affects fundamental rights.
  25. Many ICs are afraid of govt officers who hold high posts or are well connected.
  26. Appellants or complainants do not even insist in writing after the decision is pronounced, that penalty should have been imposed by IC by giving their justification for the penalty.
  27. There is no social audit of decisions of ICs nor is feedback given by RTI activists to concerned IC with a copy to Chief IC. Hence ICs do not improve.
  28. There are certain ICs and Chief ICs whose past record is full of misdeeds and they could escape penalties by manipulations and secrecy. Hence they have special love for defaulting [brother-like] PIOs.
  29. Politicians select only such ICs who cannot be attitudinally strict for benefit of common men at the cost of govt employees.
  30. Most of ICs are with govt. service background and mentally carry that baggage even after retirement.
  31. ICs are not adversely commented upon by auditors of CIC or SIC, even when the penalty is not imposed in very deserving cases.
  32. There is no system to effectively recover penalties even when imposed by ICs. This discourages ICs from penalizing. 41.68% of penalty is not recovered by CIC and situation in most SICs may be worse than this.

PENALTY -WHY NOT.doc

jps50

Destroyed Record

Many times, PIO casually replies that record has been destroyed or weeded out by referring to record retention schedule of public authority. In fact the record may not have been actually destroyed despite lapse of specified retention period. In most of cases, record is destroyed after a very long time of expiry of period stated in record retention schedule. For example if a register in a bank is required to be retained say for 5 years from date of last entry, but in practice it is destroyed after 7 or even 10 years from date of last entry when destruction is undertaken for cluster of branches. Similar is the case with most of public authorities. PIO is bound to supply information which still exists [irrespective of its age in record retention schedule] in whole of public authority.

 

Under these circumstances, information seeker should file another RTI with the same PIO seeking information as per attachment.

jps50

Personal information of citizens is protected from disclosure, subject to certain conditions, under section 8.1.j which reads as:

 

“information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information:

 

Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person”

 

This section provides protection of such personal information from public exposure, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual, unless a larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.

 

Let us understand by an example:

 

Seeking details of bank transactions of a citizen would amount to causing intrusion in privacy of that person, since this information has no relation to any public activity or public interest. It is purely personal information. However, if account holder gets involved in fraud or corruption, these details can be obtained under RTI Act in view of larger public interest.

 

Personal information of an individual can be revealed under RTI Act under following circumstances:

 

01. There is overriding larger public interest, for example if a Govt. employee has committed fraud, then his personal information connected to fraud can also be revealed.

 

02. If the information relates to public or official duties of the individual like transfers, promotion, salary, disciplinary action etc

 

03. If the information cannot be denied to Parliament or State Legislature.

 

04. This section will not apply to non-individual entities like companies or govt. departments or NGOs or trusts or Ltd companies or societies or organizations.

 

05. If information is routinely collected as part of public activity say for example application for job or license etc.

 

06. Information is connected to public activity of the person whose information is sought or involves public interest e.g. action taken report on charges or complaints.

 

07. Information relates to the applicant himself [like copy of ACR or evaluated answer sheets in exams etc] and he seeks the same under RTI.

 

08. Information is already in public domain.

 

09. Information relating to any occurrence, event or matter which has taken place, occurred or happened twenty years before the date on which any request is made.

 

10. If PIO or Appellate Authority cannot justify why information should not be revealed. Just mentioning section will not suffice. Hence speaking order is a must. Burden to justify his decision rests with PIO.

 

11. If public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests. [Note: Public interest, in common parlance, is understood to mean an act beneficial to general public, as against the word ‘personal’ which connotes private and individual affairs. [ Babu Ram Verma Vs State of UP, (1971) 2 Serv. L.R. 659]

 

12. If information has been disclosed to the public authority as a part of public activity. When a citizen provides information in discharge of a statutory obligation, it is a disclosure as a part of public activity. The same cannot be exempted under this clause. [CIC/WB/A/2008/00993 dated 16-3-2009]

 

13. Information disclosure of which has relationship to public activity or interest.

 

Note: The phrase 'disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest' means that the information must have been given in the course of a public activity. Various Public authorities in performing their functions routinely ask for 'personal' information from Citizens, and this is clearly a public activity. When a person applies for a job, or gives information about himself to a public authority as an employee, or asks for a permission, licence or authorisation, all these are public activities. Also when a Citizen provides information in discharge of a statutory obligation this too is a public activity. [CIC/SM/A/2010/001634/SG/14617 dated 05-10-2011]

 

Important decision of CIC:

 

CIC/WB/A/2007/00178 dated 30-01-2008

CIC/WB/A/2008/00993 dated 16-3-2009

CIC/AT/A/2008/00707 dated 22-02-2010

CIC/SM/A/2011/000347/SG/13530 dated 19-07-2011

CIC/SM/A/2011/000001/SG/14171 dated 19-08-2011

CIC/SM/A/2010/001634/SG/14617 dated 05-10-2011

 

Court judgements:

 

1. Dated 30-08-2010 of High Court of Kerala in WP©.No. 6532 of 2006©: TREESA IRISH v/s CPIO

 

2. Dated 17-04-2008 of High Court of Madras in W.P. No.47897 of 2006: R.ANBAZHAGAN v/s TN State Information Commission and others

 

3. Dated 04-11-2009 of Delhi High Court

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) No. 8524 OF 2009:

RAJINDER JAINA VERSUS CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

 

4. Dated 03-10-2012 of Supreme Court in Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27734 of 2012 (@ CC 14781/2012) : Girish Ramchandra Deshpande V/s Central. Information Commissioner & Ors

I am attaching a write-up for the benefit of our members in connection with section 8.1.j relating to personal information.

jps50

REFUSAL OF INFORMATION U/S 8.1.d OF RTI ACT

 

Section 8.1.d of RTI Act reads as:

 

“information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;”

 

To invoke above reason, information should have following characteristics:

 

1. Information should relate to third party, including public authority.

 

2. Its disclosure should be harmful for competitive position of third party or public authority.

 

3. Applicant is not in a position to prima-facie prove larger public interest in disclosure. This cannot be invoked when frauds or scams have been committed with public money.

 

4. Information should relate to/constitute commercial confidence or trade secret or intellectual property of third party [including pubic authority].

 

5. PIO provides meaningful justification on how disclosure would harm competitive position of third party or public authority and how it constitutes commercial confidence, trade secret or intellectual property. Just stating sub-section is not sufficient.

 

Please also note:

 

A] “Through this Order the Commission now wants to send the message loud and clear that quoting provisions of Section 8 of the RTI Act ad libitum to deny the information requested for, by CPIOs/Appellate Authorities without giving any justification or grounds as to how these provisions are applicable is simply unacceptable and clearly amounts to malafide denial of legitimate information attracting penalties under section 20(1) of the Act.”CIC/OK/A/2006/00163 dated 7 July, 2006.

 

 

B] “The PIO has to give the reasons for rejection of the request for information as required under Section 7(8)(i). Merely quoting the bare clause of the Act does not imply that the reasons have been given. The PIO should have intimated as to how he had come to the conclusion that rule 8(1)(j) was applicable in this case.”CIC/OK/C/2006/00010 dated 7 July, 2006.

 

Refer: CIC/SG/A/2011/003607/17371 dated 10-03-2012

jps50

Of late defiance of orders of Information Commissioners has become rampant. The only remedy with the information seeker is to lodge a complaint with Chief Information Commissioner, who routinely issues another order for compliance that too after a delay ranging from 6 to 36 months depending upon efficiency and pendency of CIC/SIC. Commissions hardly invoke powers of Civil Court vested in it u/s 18.3 to ensure speedy compliance with its own orders.

Hence I suggest that if after two months of filing complaint of non-compliance [with copy to PIO, FAA, and Head of public authority], as suggested in my separate article posted at http://www.rtiindia.org/blogs/338-non-compliance-orders-cic-sics.html, you do not get information or compliance, please send letter as per attachment, after making suitable changes to suit your case. It may sensitize the machinery.

It is to be addressed to Chief /Principal Secretary heading ministry at Delhi under which public authority works for central govt information. In case of state govt information, it should be addressed to Chief/Principal Secretary of the Department which oversees the department of SPIO/PIO. Details are available on the website of Ministry or Department.

============

Quote

 

Name:

Address:

Email id [if any]:

Mobile/phone No:

________________________________________________________________

 

Date: _________                Complaint                 By Registered AD post & email

To,

Chief/Principal Secretary

Ministry of Central Govt or Concerned Dept of the State Govt

Address:

email ID:

Dear Sir,

Subject: RTI ACT 2005- Non-compliance of Order of Central Information Commission/State Information Commission by Public Servant

I enclose copy of order No. ____________ dated _______ of CIC/SIC relating to my RTI Application dated ________. Details of officer/s are as under:

Name of CPIO/SPIO/PIO________ [if known]

Name of FAA: __________[if known] His designation _________

Designation of CPIO/SPIO/PIO: ____________

Name of dept/office____________

Address of dept/office: _________

02. Since CPIO/SPIO/PIO and / or FAA did not comply with the orders, I reminded the erring officers vide my enclosed letter dated _____to ensure compliance. I was forced to file complaint u/s 18 with the concerned CIC/SIC on ________ and matter is pending with it. I am not informed of any stay order or writ pending on this issue as on date. In the mean while.

I file this complaint for your kind administrative intervention in the interest of RTI, rule of law, fundamental rights of citizens and discipline in govt servants.

03. The defiant public servant is a senior officer of Govt/public authority. Common man like me is surprised at the scant respect such officer has for lawful order of a Commission constituted under an act of Parliament viz. THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT 2005. In my humble opinion the officer has committed following acts of omission and commission by flouting said order:

A] He has indulged into major offence under Service Rules of the Govt/public authority. This may attract major penalty under service rules including dismissal.

B] He has exposed himself to sections 166, 186, 188, 217 etc of IPC.

C] He has committed sedition as defined under section 124A of IPC.

D] He is exposed to penalty under section 20 of RTI Act 2005

E] He has disrespected and challenged authority and supremacy of Parliament of this country and has proved himself to be above law.

F] He may be involved in corruption for hiding information for vested interest and thus has exposed him to The Prevention of Corruption Act.

G] He is trying to protect and support wrong doers by hiding information for misdeeds. This amounts to abetment of offence under IPC 107 to 120.

H] He has further lowered down dignity and respect of a public servant in the eyes of common citizen.

I] He has butchered my fundamental right guaranteed under article 19.1.a

04. Being administrative head of the Ministry/Department, I am sure you will not take such behaviour of public servant lightly, since it will amount to encouraging and abetting above offences. Your silence or inaction would be fatal to rule of law, discipline in government, honour of Parliament and respect for law. It will set very bad example for others.

In fact, any officer or authority who supports or connives at such acts by inaction or silence or ineffective action or tacit acts, renders himself or herself also answerable to law for abetment of offence.

05. I add:

i] Under our Constitution sovereignty vests in the people. Every limb of the constitutional machinery is obliged to be people oriented.  No functionary in exercise of statutory power can claim immunity, except to the extent protected by the statute itself.  Public authorities acting in  violation of  constitutional or statutory provisions oppressively  are accountable for their behaviour before authorities  created under  the  statute  like  the commission  or the courts entrusted  with            responsibility of maintaining the  rule  of law. 

--Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Lucknow Development Authority V/s. M.K. Gupta on 05/11/1993 [CITATION: 1994 AIR 787 1994 SCC (1) 243 JT 1993 (6) 307    1993 SCALE (4)370]

ii] “1.People in power and authority should not easily lose equanimity, composure and appreciation for the problems of the lesser mortals. They are always expected to remember that power and authority must be judiciously exercised according to the laws and human compassion. Arrogance and vanity have no place in discharge of their official functions and duties. ” ---Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, on 18-02-2010 in Civil Appeal Nos. 1429-1430 of 2010.

Iii] “……..The responsibility of officials to explain and to justify their acts is the chief safeguard against oppression and corruption.” – Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, Constitutional Bench in The State of UP v. Raj Narain, AIR 1975 SC 865

06. Under these circumstances, I humbly request your goodself for administrative action as under:

i] Please ensure that said order of CIC/SIC is complied with honestly and properly immediately by concerned officer.

Ii] Please initiate disciplinary action against delinquent officer under service rules applicable to him.

iii[ Please ensure that police complaint or FIR is filed for various sections of IPC against concerned officer and his abettors.

iv] Please report or cause to be reported to Central Vigilance Commission or State Vigilance Commission for investigation from vigilance angle for non-compliance.

v] Please independently enquire or get enquired what for the officer was hiding the information to this extent. There could be huge scam and fraud, loss to govt, serious crime committed but hidden or illegal activity against public interest.

06. I may kindly be informed fate of this complaint. I hope I will not be forced to move higher judiciary for such administrative matters, since my fundamental right under article 19.1.a is at stake.

Yours faithfully,

[Name ________]

Encls; IC order and reminder to office

Copies by registered ad post to:

1. Chief information Commissioner, CIC or SIC [as the case may be]

2. Head of public authority to which CPIO/SPIO/PIO belongs.

3.  CPIO/SPIO/PIO

4. FAA

5. Secretary to President of India or Governor of State

 

Download: NON COMP IC DECI - COMPT 2 GOVT.doc

jps50

Appellants or complainants have experienced that ICs order supply of information, but they do not penalize PIO or FAA. Under such circumstances I would request aggrieved appellants or complainants to address attached letter to concerned IC. Suitable changes can be made to suit individual case. If large numbers of information seekers address such letters, over a time it will have positive and desired effect. After all in democracy, numbers count.

Please also refer

http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/blogs/jps50/3137-court-judgements-penalty-under-rti-act-2005.html and you may attach this list with this letter.

 

Please also mark one copy to Chief Information Commissioner of CIC/SIC

jps50

Of late, many govt. offices are refusing to accept envelope containing RTI application or appeal under one pretext or other. I suggest following steps:

 

1. Retain returned envelope and get photocopies of both sides of returned envelope.

 

2. Lodge complaint u/s 18.1.a to SIC/CIC with copy to PIO and Head of Office or Transparency Officer of public authority, if any designated. Attach photocopies of both sides of returned envelope. Please refer:

 

HOW TO COMPLAIN U/S 18 [CENTRAL/STATE]

http://www.rtiindia.org/guide/how-to-use-your-right-to-information-4/complaint-under-rti-act-2005-24/

 

3. Send the contents of returned envelope in another envelope by mentioning only address of that office to which RTI relates, without mentioning PIO/CPIO etc on envelope, so that receiving person does not know that it contains RTI matter. Also send copy of above complaint in the same envelope.

 

4. In addition to above, after a week you may send copy of complaint by email to SIC/CIC and also head of the office, if email ID is available.

 

23062012

jps50

Assistance in Inspection under RTI Act 2005

 

Normally PIOs or First Appellate Authorities refuse to permit assistant of choice of applicant during inspection.

 

Section 7.4 of RTI Act states as under:

 

“Where access to the record or a part thereof is required to be provided under this Act and the person to whom access is to be provided is sensorily disabled, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall provide assistance to enable access to the information, including providing such assistance as may be appropriate for the inspection.”

 

As per this section, PIO is duty bound to himself provide assistance in inspection and also to ensure that applicant gets other appropriate help as may be necessary to enable applicant to effectively and meaningfully inspect records.

 

I quote following decisions and judgement where in Information Commissioners and Hon’ble High Court have permitted assistance of a person of choice of appellant or complainant.

 

Central Information Commission

 

CIC/SG/C/2010/901000/9908Adjunct dated 13-12-2010.

 

CIC/AD/C/2011/001639 dated 05-12-2011

 

CIC/WB/A/2007/00692-SM dated 15-10-2008. I reproduce relevant paragraph from this decision:

 

“4. The Section 7(4) of the RTI Act provides that the CPIO should give assistance to those Applicants who are sensorily disabled, so that they can have access to the desired records. It is true that the Applicant is not sensorily disabled. It is also true that the Ordinance Factory, Kanpur in general and the CPIO in particular have already provided a lot of information contained in those two files concerning the Applicant’s case. Nevertheless, in view of the Applicant’s admission that he is not properly educated and that he can understand documents only with the help of outside assistance, I tend to interpret the expression ‘sensorily disabled’ more wildly to include illiteracy or inadequate education and, therefore, to be ground enough for grant of permission to use or get the help of an assistant for inspecting or accessing the records. In view of this, the First Appellate Authority and the CPIO are directed to allow the Appellant to inspect the relevant records with the help of an assistant and in the presence of a representative of the CPIO within 15 working days from the receipt of this order.”

 

Relevant extract from judgment dated 16-11-2007 of Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in W.P.© 8228/2007—Suresh Gupta v/s Dy. Commissioner of Police and another:

 

“9. If the petitioner, for some reasons, felt inhibited due to his not being fluent in English, denial of appropriate assistance in fact would have resulted in withholding access to information. Surely, that is not the object of the Act or even the order. In these circumstances, the respondents should grant the petitioner's request. Accordingly, the respondent No.1 is directed to permit inspection of the concerned records by the petitioner, who can be accompanied by his counsel or an authorized representative.”

 

Thus information seeker is entitled to inspect records with the help of a person of his choice, if he has any infirmity which does not enable him to effectively inspect records and understand its contents. PIO and FAA would be violating provisions of RTI Act, CIC decisions and judgment of Hon’ble High Court, if they deny such assistance in inspection under RTI.

Please also visit:

 

http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/blogs/jps50/856-how-inspect-under-rti.html

 

 

07032012

jps50

Of late I am receiving messages seeking clarification as to how to calculate period within which information should be received, where other charges are payable. I clarify as under:

Suppose an RTI application contains following types of queries:

a. Queries which require no other charges:

Information should be mailed within 30 days from the date of receipt by PIO. These queries should not be delayed for other charges payment.

b. Queries pertaining to other public authorities:

They should be transferred within 5 days of receipt by PIO to other public authorities.

c. Queries which require payment of other charges:

Following calculation has to be worked out to know if the information is supplied within the stipulated time of 30 days.

No. of days from the date of receipt by PIO to date of dispatch of information minus no. of days from the date of dispatch of intimation to pay other charges to date of receipt of other charges = should not exceed 30 days.

If this period exceeds 30 days, then applicant can claim refund of other charges through first appeal.

This issue is clarified in section 7.3.a of RTI Act.

Date of letter may differ from date of dispatch and hence envelopes should be preserved.

jps50

01. District Consumer Forums are headed by judicial officers [retired Dist. Judge], while most of ICs are from bureaucracy. Thus there is difference of mind frame and approach and hence results.

 

02. Decision is taken by 3 member bench of consumer forum. It has two [one male and another female] other members from common citizens, while at CIC/SIC it is single IC. Hence in consumer forum complaint is looked at from common man’s perspective by two members. This improves quality of decisions.

 

03. There are 2 to 10 ICs per state, while in each district there is one or more consumer forums. In big cities there are 2 to 4 benches. Circuit benches of consumer forums at Taluka level is being contemplated under amendment pending in parliament.

 

04. IC’s decision can be challenged in High Court only, which is a costly and time consuming procedure. In case of judgement of Consumer Forum, it can be challenged in State Consumer Commission, which is less costly and fast if it is argued by applicant himself.

 

05. Information seeker can proceed with CIC/SIC and simultaneously consumer forum, since consumer forum is concerned with deficiency of service and unfair trade practice, while CIC/SIC looks at from RTI perspective only.

 

06. In case of consumer forums, compensation is a rule while in case of CIC/SIC it is rare. Hence part of cost of litigation/travelling is recovered in most cases decided by consumer forums.

 

07. In most of SICs and CIC waiting period is 12 to 60 months, while in case of consumer forums it is 12 to 36 months.

 

08. In case of non-compliance of ICs orders, he can at the most penalize Rs.25000/- and/or recommend disciplinary action against PIO to head of public authority. Non-compliance of orders of consumer court can land govt officers in jail. As per news items top heads of two business groups were ordered to be arrested for non-compliance of orders of district forums in two different cases.

 

09. Fee up to claim of Rs.100000/- is only Rs.100/- in consumer forum.

 

10. In majority of consumer forums’ decisions supply of information, payment of compensation and expenses have been ordered.

 

11. In consumer forum you get adequate time to place your arguments, while in case of information commission time given is too short to properly argue your case.

 

12. However, consumer forums have some negative sides also:

 

a. Applicant has to visit consumer forum at least 2-3 times. In case of SIC information seeker may or may not remain present at hearing. Only CIC has facility for video conferencing from district head quarters.

 

b. Complaint in consumer forum has to be filed at the place of office of PIO, it may not be convenient for information seeker, unless he can afford advocate or can be represented by friend/relative well versed in RTI and consumer matters residing at the place of consumer forum.

 

c. Inter-state RTI matters have language problem also, since proceedings in consumer forums are in regional language, though complaint can be filed in English/Hindi also. This may be true of some SICs also.



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