How many times have you been asked to inspect the document when you have never requested? Ideally, if you have not applied for inspection of the document and the information requested is not voluminous, PIO should not ask the applicant to come for inspection of the document.
PIO Acts that makes you hate RTI ACT
But naturally, it is not the way. It is an easy way for PIO to first
- Get to know who is an actual RTI Applicant
- Intimidate the applicant by various means
- Evading the actual reply
1. Get to know who is an actual RTI Applicant:
Many times the RTI Applicant belongs to the same department and many times he/she is unable to confront the Department by other official means. Those RTI applicants can easily be targeted by PIO by calling them for Inspection of Records under the RTI Act.
2. Intimidate the applicant by various means:
Many times the PIO ends up in some important meeting and the applicant is forced to wait or reschedule the inspection. Considering Central Government Ministries in Delhi, it is very hard to travel from far off places to go for inspection of records.
Further, if you happen to visit the Government Ministries, you end up in the queue for making pass at the main entry for hours.
Those applicant who are genuinely are in search of information, ends up discarding his /per RTI quest.
3. Evading the actual Reply:
The best use of calling for inspection is to ensure that an RTI Applicant do not get the desired information from the maze of files available. On a drop of a hat, the Government officials are notorious in creating part files. If they show you main file how do you decipher that information you are looking for is available in another file?
9 Suggestions we must try every Ministries and Departments should bring out:
According to the RTI Act, 2005, clause 6(1), in many cases, persons who have applied for getting information, are intimated by the Public Information Officers to come and inspect the documents. The State Information Commissioner has objected to this in some cases. If the person has not applied for inspection of documents & the information he has requested is not voluminous, he should not be asked to come for inspection of documents.
- In such cases number of pages should be counted & the applicant should be informed to pay the prescribed charges.
- In cases where the information requested by the applicant is voluminous, he may be given a chance to see & inspect the documents and given copies of the requisite records by charging the prescribed fee.
- In cases where the applicant has applied for inspection of the documents or the information he has requested is voluminous, an index of all the documents should be prepared before he is called for inspection of the documents.
- Each page in the file must be numbered.
- Dates & timings should be intimated to the applicant before he is called. If these dates are not convenient to the applicant, he should be asked to get in touch with the Public Information Officer.
- The file numbers of the files in which the information requested by the applicant is available should be intimated.
- The File Index Register should also be shown where the relevant files are being created and PIO should mark each of the files in the index which are shown as part of the inspection.
- In case, on the date on which the applicant is coming, the concerned Public Information Officer has to go out of the office because of some important work, he should hand over the responsibility of giving documents for examination, to his colleague or assistant.
- The office telephone no. as well as the e-mail address of the PIO, should be intimated to the applicant.
Do you have anything to add, please add in my blog comments?