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Times of India Report on 25th:
NEW DELHI: In just one year of implementation of Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005, your right is already in trouble.
An examination of appeals pending with Central Information Commission (CIC), the final appellate body for RTI Act, reveals that on an average an applicant has to wait at least seven months to be heard. And experts predict that at this rate within two months, this waiting time is all set to increase to two years.
If this is shocking, then wait till you see how CIC has been disposing these cases. According to a survey conducted by Parivartan, an NGO, of 568 appeals before CIC, 309 cases were disposed of without even being heard.
Neither the applicant nor the public information officer (PIO) was called in these cases. This means that over 54% of the applicant were not even heard.
According to RTI Rules 2005, it is upto the appellant to decide whether he wants to heard in person or in writing or not heard at all. The appeal rules lay down that it is the duty of CIC to give them an opportunity to be heard.
CIC, however, says that it is not possible to call all appellants. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said: "The Commission cannot call everyone.
If we start calling each appellant, we would not be able to dispose of appeals. We call people when we see the need for it." Legal experts, however, say that this is against the principle of natural justice.
RTI expert and Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejriwal said: "Their job is not to dispose appeals but to dispense justice. What would happen if Supreme Court starts saying this?" The disposal system is slowing down.
The number of appeals are increasing at a very fast pace. On September 4 this year, CIC received 89 appeals in a single day. In the last one year till September 8, 2006, CIC had received 3,059 applications.
Out of this number, it has disposed only 1,531 cases. The waiting period of applicants varies. While R P Jain, a Delhi resident, had to wait 195 days before his case was disposed, Piyush Mahapatra had to wait for 72 days.
Habibullah said: "We set ourselves a two month target to dispose one case. I agree, this wait is much longer in many cases. But we are trying to improve our system. We have engaged data entry operators to get a system in order. As soon as a case comes to us, we would feed it in our system.
We are trying to make some changes." Kejriwal, however, disagrees. "There is a need to impose penalties. Since CIC is not willing to impose penalties, the government officers are not scared to deny information and every case goes to CIC.
At this rate, the waiting period of each appeal would increase manifold in just two months." Of the 1,531 cases disposed so far, CIC has given two orders issuing penalties against officers.
While it has already withdrawn one order, it is in the process of withdrawing the second one as well.
[sourse: TOI 25th Sept 2006]
The UP and Delhi High Courts are charging 50 times more than the amount being charged by the Centre and a majority of states from a person seeking information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
While the Centre and most states have fixed the fee at Rs 10, the two HCs have been charging information-seekers Rs 500, virtually denying the poor the information they need.
The exorbitant fee has left the UP State Information Commission and Central Information Commission (CIC) fuming. They are demanding amendment to the RTI Act to bring in uniformity in the fee structure.
The present RTI gives states and the judiciary right to determine their own fees.
â€œThis is virtual denial of information. It is against the spirit of the RTI. I've taken it up with the CIC,â€ says UP Information Commissioner Justice (retired) M A Khan who is in Delhi to participate in the first three-day convention of the CIC.
In its rules formulated on RTI, the Delhi HC says an information seeker will have to pay Rs 500 per application for information on all matters other than quasi-judicial and administrative. For the quasi-judicial and administration information, which will be available only to the affected persons, the fee has been pegged at Rs 50 per application. The court has also specified speed money (Rs 10 per page) for persons who want pages of information urgently.
For the benefit of the RTI community, I furnish hereunder extracts from a news report that appeared in the Chennai edition of Indian Express(16.11.2006):
"The RTI Act is gaining momentum with around 300 NGOs including consumer groups, pensioner associations, women's group and trade unions joining hands for the state-wide RTI campaign
The month long campaign is being headed by the Federation of Consumer Organisations-Tamilnadu & Pondicherry(FEDCOT) Besides conducting street corner meetings everyday, they have also been distributing phamplets in schools, colleges and among the general public on how they can utilise the RTI Act to get information from the public authorities."
A 67-year old consumer activist from Salem was assaulted by some persons for seeking information under RTI Act.(Reported in "the Hindu" dt 01.12.2006)
Mr A Annamalai of FEDCOT sought information under RTI Act about the waiver of loans by a cooperative society in his village. Following this, he was abused and attacked in front of his house.
Following a complaint by one of the assailants, Mr Annamalai, a one-time Bhoodhan Movement leader, was taken to the police station and and made to sit on the floor in a corner. He was also abused and treated like a criminal.
The police, instead of taking action against the asailants, obtained a commitment from him in writing that he would not file similar petitions in future.
Only last week, the office of another veteran consumer activist, "Traffic Ramaswamy", was ransacked in Chennai, following which, the Madras High Court has ordered a gun-man security for him. Mr Ramaswamy has filed a number of Public Interest Litigations in Madras High Court (This incident along with an interview was telecast in NDTV on 30.11.2006).
i have a querry on RTI the information asked for was refused by CPIO, the appellate committe also upheld the decision of CPIO thereafter the CIC has asked the Public Authority to supply the information. My question is whether it is justified and legallly correct that the public authority is asking the applicant to deposit the fees for photocopy of the documents
02/21/2018 03:26 AM