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Ravi Ahuja

Transparency Officers

Question

Ravi Ahuja

Is there any provision under the RTI which directs Public Authorities to appoint Transparency Officers – who would be responsible for Suo Moto disclosures.

If yes, what are their duties and obligations and under whose superintendence do they function?

Thanks in advance,

Ravi Ahuja

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garg0505

Thanks sir for your kind comments sir. 

Actually this information was obtain by me when I got a clue from a DOPT website.

And noted that most of Public Authorities not yet implemented yet.

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Ravi Ahuja

 Mr Garg,

Many thanks for that information.

Sir, Has DOPT stated the specific duties / obligation / powers / and jurisdiction of the TO.

(i.e) The Authority who has superintendence over the TO and the jurisdiction of TO over PIO / FAA.

I have not come across any information in this regard.

Rather, I see this as beginning of a vicious cycle of blame game that will be played by and between the PIO /FAA and TO  - to delay and deny information and defeat the very purpose of RTI

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Prasad GLN

There is no such mention in RTI Act.

But, DOPT issued such OM to appoint Transparency officers as liaison with CIC.

File RTI Application to DOPT seeking copy of their OM. (You can find out in their website)

There is no change in duties and obligations, control  of their regular duties , they are according to me titular heads.

Each Public Authority has only one Transparency officer.

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garg0505

On appointment of transparency offer I obtained this information from RTI foundation web site in this regard a circular was also issued by DOPT.                 

In the W.P.(C)3327/2012 (Union of India V. Central Information Commissioner and Ors.), Hon'ble Mr. Justice V.K. Jain has dismissed the writ petition. The bench observed “No one was present for the petitioner on the last date of hearing.  No one is present for the petitioner today. The writ petition is dismissed in default and for non-prosecution” Following the rejection of the petition, the seven member bench order for the appointment of the “Transparency officer” now comes into force. Earlier, the Secretary, Central Information Commission had issued an order for the implementation of the CIC order.       Central Information Commission August Kranti Bhawan Bhikaji Cama Place New Delhi-110 066 Date: 09-12-2010   Subject : 1. Roles of CPIO and Transparency Officer (TO) 2. Level of Transparency Officer (TO) 3. Job Chart of Transparency Officer (TO)   Reference: D.O.No.CIC/AT/D/10/000111 dated 15.11.2010 Apropos the subject and reference cited, certain public authorities have requested clarification regarding the roles of the Transparency Officer (T.O.) vis-à-vis the CPIO, and the level of the Transparency Officer.  2. It is clarified that the institution of Transparency Officer is in fact an administrative arrangement for promotion of institutional transparency within the public authority through proactive and effective implementation of the provisions of Section 4 of the RTI Act, 2005. These include effective record management, digitization of records, networking and incremental proactive disclosures.  3. The CPIO and the Appellate Authority, on the other hand, are parts of the RTI-regime and, in that sense, are statutory officers under the RTI Act. Their functions shall be as defined in Sections 7 and 19(1) of the Act respectively.  4. Within the public authority, a CPIO will be free to seek guidance from the Transparency Officer about disclosure-norms ⎯ both in its general and specific aspects. 5. The level of Transparency Officer, in any public authority, may vary depending on the availability of personnel of a requisite level. However, to be effective, a Transparency Officer should be of sufficiently high seniority in the organization, having uninterrupted and free access to the head of the public authority. He should also be able to effectively communicate and liaise with Divisional Heads of the public authority.  It is, therefore, desirable that T.O. is either No.2 or No.3 behind the head of the organization, in the official hierarchy.  6. Job Chart of Transparency Officer  Transparency Officer (TO) shall be the main centre of all actions connected with promotion of institutional transparency commensurate with the letter and spirit of the RTI Act. In performing this role, the TO shall:  i. Act as the interface for the Commission vis-à-vis the public authority on the one hand, and on the other vis-à-vis the public authority and the general public/information seeker.  ii. Engage continuously, in implementing the Commission’s directive dated 15.11.2010 regarding pro-active disclosures under section -4 of RTI Act, vis-à-vis the public authority concerned.  iii. Regularly monitor decisions of the Central Information Commission (http://cic.gov.in) with a view to identify areas of openness both generic and specific as a result of such decisions.  Ensure that all levels of employees of the public authority are sensitized about these decisions and their implications.  Be responsible for issuing advisories, to officers/staff about need for sensitivity to institutional transparency and act as a change agent.  Be responsible for sensitizing the officers/staff that the time limit stipulated in the RTI Act are outer limit for matters raised under RTI Act and officers/staff are required to be mentally tuned to disclose all informations, predetermined as open, within the shortest possible time on receiving request.  iv. Be the contact point for the CPIO/FAA/Divisional Heads in respect of all RTI related matters of the Organisation. He will be the clearing house in all matters about making transparency the central point of organizational behaviour.  v. Constantly remain in touch with the top management in the public authority about the strategy and the action to promote transparency within the organisation.  Promote good management practices with the organisation centered on transparency.  vi. Devise transparency indices for various wings of the public authority in order to introduce healthy competition in promoting transparency.   vii. Help set up facilitation centres within the premises of the public authority, where members of the public can file their requests for disclosure of specific information and can inspect the records and documents etc.  viii. Work out, in consultation with the departmental officers, the parameters of record management- its classification and indexing, plan of action for digitization of documents and records, networking etc and oversee and help implement the functions laid down in section 4 (1) (a) and 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act.  ix. Prepare information matrix based on analysis of RTI applications filed before the public authority and response thereof and, suggest to the top management the need for process reengineering, wherever necessary, as well as work out modalities of suo motu disclosure of such information.  x. Be responsible for creating condition(s) in the organisation to establish an information regime, where transparency/disclosure norms are so robust that the public is required to have only the minimum resort to the use RTI Act to access information.   xi. Be responsible for operating a user-friendly website for various information relating to the public authority concerned, including inter alia search option.  xii. With the help of the appropriate wing of the public authority, set-up arrangements for training of the personnel to promote among them higher transparency orientation away from intuitive reflex towards secrecy, now common.  xiii. Establish dialogue with the top management and key officials of the public authority regarding prevention of unnecessary confidentiality classification of documents and records under the Official Secrets Act and to check over classification.   (B.B. SRIVASTAVA) Secretary  Share your comments with RTI Foundation of India. 

Read more at: http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/would-public-authority-appoint-%E2%80%9Ctransparency-offic#.W0d65OHhU0N

RTI Foundation of India

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Prasad GLN

Mr. Garg,

So kind of you.  This important information instead of suffering in the middle of certain posts, fit to get it's due place and attention in Blog sector.   Really, very very useful information to our members,  Thanking you once again for prompt response.

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Prasad GLN

 @Ravi Ahuja--You can find clarification for all your doubts in Mr.Garg's post.

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garg0505

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Prasad GLN

I have found that two or three PIOs are regularly  denying information stating the exemptions that are not appropriate and FAAs' remained silent without delivering orders.

I have written separate letters to Transparency officers specifically pointing out the reasons for denial and enclosed the CIC decisions, HC judgments.  I have immediately received acknowledgement from one TO.    I have also suggested TO to conduct a workshop before burdening them with such responsibilities, as their denials affect the prestige and reputation of organisations.  It was also brought to his attention of not displaying the boards of Application/appeal designatories, PIOs of same authority keeping the applications with them for one month and using Sec.6 (3) to transfer the same to their own  PIOs etc.

Waiting for acknowledgment and their response though not the courtetsy of thanking for bringing the same to his attention.

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garg0505

In persuance of CIC orders myself also approach to New Delhi Municipal Council, New Delhi to obtain the details of Transparency official in NDMC as even under nose of central govt not acting for implementation of various acts under said acts.

 

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Prasad GLN

We do that not expecting that they will respond, but to record and to bring some developments that officials may not aware.  All this record can be made as part of second appeal stating that in addition to FAA, this matter was also referred to Transparency officer and he has not taken any timely action.

If IC remains silent on such complaints on transparency officers, atleast the Transparency officers feel some responsibility that his inaction is being brought on record.

(I know that no one can take any action on FAA..Appointing transparency officer is itself great as DOPT strictly states that they can follow only that action stated in RTI..when a request was made to issue OM to direct FAA to give opportunity of  hearing compulsorily as they are performing quasi-judicial functions.  Even IC admitted that DOPT stand is correct)

Edited by Prasad GLN

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garg0505

Further from the site of SAIL I obtained the copy of DO letter issued by CIC stating the role of transparency officials.

Really I am wondering why the DOPT and other Public even CIC is vigourisly implementing these orders.

RoleOfTo-06-06-12.pdf

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Prasad GLN

garg0505: "Really I am wondering why the DOPT and other Public even CIC is vigourisly implementing these orders."

I presume that you missed mentioning "Not" in your comments.

This is infact a Directive and not guideline.

Applicants may first ask TO to rectify the irregularity, and then make a complaint to CIC against TO under copy to DOPT.

Members may give feedback on such attempts so that others can use the same process.

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garg0505

Thanks sir for correcting me.

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koteswararaonerella

THERE IS NO SUCH DESIGNATED POST UNDER CENTRAL GOVT AS FOR I KNOW

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Prasad GLN

 

Members may go through Blog on Transparency officer. 

A sample petition filed before a Transparency officer is enclosed.

Dear Sir,

Reg: Failure to take any action on grievance/ complaint filed against CPIO, and FAA,

Ref: Various letters pending with you.

1.It is the contention of CPIO,  through several copy and paste uniform letters changing the date of such RTI Applications that

a.He has replied to similar RTI applications for the past 10 years on the same subject.

b. Available documents have already been provided

c. Inspection was permitted in the past. CIC decisions were delivered in the past.

2.The contention of applicant is that it is CPIO that has  provided repeatedly several times information without providing copies of  public record for ten years.

3) From filing of each RTI Application to attending of second appeals to CIC, appellant has spent more than Rs.1 lakh only for seeking information and that CPIO has never provided complete, correct and relevant information to not even one RTI Application  for last ten years..

4. This appellant is not a cantankerous applicant and  it is her contention that CPIO suppressed material facts of possession in Courts to perpetrate fraud, she is making efforts to know the legal validity of their actions.  Misrepresentation is a fraud.  Fraud Vitiates all acts.  All advantages derived due to fraud are non est in the eyes of law and void ab initio including such CIC decisions which were obtained from CIC through fraudulent misrepresentations.  Complaints against such decisions were pending with CIC.  

3.The duties of designated transparency officer are as follows:

As per CIC directive:   c) help promote congenial conditions for positive and timely response  to RTI requests by CPIOs, deemed CPIOs. (d) to be a contact point for the public in all RTI related matters.

10.Unless the key requirements of Sec.4 are fully met by the public authorities “suo motu” the objectives of theis Act as enshrined in it’s Preamble and Section 4 itself can not be realized… Hence the Directive.

RTI Act: 4 ( 1) (d) Provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected parties

5).In view of duties and responsibilities, grievance was filed before Transparency officer several times, on those matters which are no more res integra as per CIC decisions such as

a)CPIO has to provide information as appears in Public record in material form.  Assumptions, culling out, inferences, opinions etc are not considered as information. CPIO must not deny information stating that information was provided already but must provide information as what was provided already with such verbatim quote with reference, and in case of repeated applications, Public Authority may follow the laid down procedure as per CIC decision and brand her as cantankerous applicant.

b)FAA in case of such disputes, must provide opportunity of  personal hearing, call written submissions from CPIO as to what was provided earlier under copy to applicant, and then seek written submissions from appellant also and then decide as to who is correct.

c)This procedure of hearing the complainant / affected party is constitutional right of principles of natural justice, as God has not punished ADAM even without seeking his explanation.  Transparency officer must have decided to settle the pending dispute for last ten years once for all, when the matter is referred to them, as per laid down law and precedents.

5)Instead of directing his subordinate CPIO to adhere to CIC decision and direct FAA to deliver FAA  for speaking orders on personal hearing, chooses to respond in a most irresponsible manner some irrelevant quotes not material to the issue.  The decision to take sides of CPIO is not proper and maintaining silence when FAA is not delivering and keeping silent to all first appeals is against spirit of transparency of RTI Act and against principles of natural justice.

 

PRAYER:  In view of the ten year old dispute, as the burden of establishing that information was provided as per public record rests on CPIO,  Transparency  Officer in exercise of his powers,  may direct CPIO to prepare a statement of entire RTI Applications as allegedly claimed by CPIO as replied and state what was provided earlier, what was denied earlier and such reasons.  CPIO may also provide Minutes of the inspection received from appellant under acknowledgment, stating that Public records that support information provided was not disclosed or copies provided.   There are more than 4 CIC decisions about this kind of invented denials by PIOs in the past and TO may follow the same. .  After getting such statement from CPIO, appellant may also be asked to file her submissions before FAA during personal hearing.  Then FAA may deliver speaking order on each and every point of information provided by BPCL during ten years. This process once for all serves for settlement of entire issue as to who is right.  Appellant prays for suitable action as stated in earlier CIC decisions/HC judgments  under these circumstances without taking sides of fraudsters and criminals.

 

Appellant.

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koteswararaonerella

I did not come across with SUCH DESIGNATION AS "TRANSPARENCY OFFICER".I MAY NOT BE CORRECT BUT PLEASE TELL IN WHICH DEPT THIS POST IS THERE

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garg0505

This is only the reason why every public authorities do not want to carry out additional burden of implementation of RTI act 2005 and with the blessings of present government every efforts being carried out to dilute the RTI act.

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Prasad GLN

Garg Saab,

Never blame a particular party in ruling power that RTI violations are due to blessings of present government.  (As i understand, ruling party in Central GOvernment may be in your mind).

Now come to SIC level where opposition parties are ruling, you do not find  neither adequate information commissioners and in one state no Information commission.  Recent PIL before SC throws more light on this aspect.

Finally no ruling party wishes RTI.  When they are in opposition they want RTI implementation, when they were given the power, they try the methods to dilute.

 

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garg0505

Thanks sir. But may I clarify the reason for my observation for using the word present government as the every effort being made by this Government to weaken the every institution who doesn't fall in their line's.

The recent example is bringing the amendment of CIC/SIC status. Anyway you are write in your observations.

Thanks again.

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