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sidmis

Don’t accept RTI petitions, SIC tells Palakkad RDO

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sidmis

The repeated filing of applications under the Right To Information (RTI) Act on various issues by a retired Army official from Palakkad have irritated the State Information Commission (SIC) to the extent of it issuing an order to the Palakkad Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) not to accept RTI petitions from anyone from the district and ordered to send them directly to the public authority concerned or the commission.

 

That the order is particularly targeted at Major (Rtd) P.M.Ravindran is evident from the fact that it mentions his name as “one example in point”.

 

He has filed scores of RTI applications, mostly on the performance of the SIC, the latest being the one seeking information on the expenses incurred for an SIC sitting held in Palakkad.

 

As per Section 6 (3) of the RTI Act public information officers in district headquarters concerned have to receive applications under the RTI Act and forward them to the respective public authority.

 

The State Government has entrusted the RDOs to receive RTI pleas and transfer them to the departments concerned.

Legal experts say that the SIC order is against the RTI Act. “Under the

RTI Act, the SIC is not authorised to issue orders like this. This can be challenged in the High Court.

 

But at the same time, there should be provisions to deal with what is called ‘vexatious litigants’. When the Central Information Commission convened a meeting of all the SICs last month, it was proposed to bring an amendment to deal with those who overuse the RTI Act.

 

But in this case, the argument that the person is a vexatious litigant cannot be raised as an alibi to justify this unlawful order,” said advocate D.B.Binu. He said that the SIC can only implement the Act and cannot meddle with its provisions.

 

“Even courts cannot act against the provisions of a piece of legislation. This order should be opposed as it will have an impact on the positive use of RTI Act,” said advocate M.R.Hariraj.

 

When contacted, State Chief Information Commissioner Palat Mohandas was more scathing in his remarks against Ravindran.

 

“He has become a nuisance. He doesn’t know anything about the RTI Act though he acts as an apostle of it. Who is he to dictate terms to us?”, said Mohandas. Asked about the order, he said that he can comment on it only after checking it.

 

B F Firos

KOCHI: Sunday November 11 2007

Newindpress.com

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ganpat1956
The repeated filing of applications under the Right To Information (RTI) Act on various issues by a retired Army official from Palakkad have irritated the State Information Commission (SIC) to the extent of it issuing an order to the Palakkad Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) not to accept RTI petitions from anyone from the district and ordered to send them directly to the public authority concerned or the commission.

 

If the SIC has issued such an order, then it is going to be a serious matter with far-reaching consequences. Apart from the fact that the law does not provide for issuance of such an order, it also interferes with the implementation of the RTI Act itself.

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colnrkurup

I have seen the complaint made by Maj Ravindran. No one believe that an SIC can cause so much damage to the principles envisaged in RTI Act. I myself has experienced every cituation Maj Ravindran has complained including complaint to the Governor. In fact I had gone a step further and complained to Her Excellency the President who has forwarded it to the State Chief Secretary. Though the local RDO Ofice is next door, I have not been using his media. The reason forSIC's out-burst is that Receipt of application through RDO does not suit SIC as he will never be able to deny thier receipt on a later date due to their personal delivery to RDO by Appellant. The issue is very serious and I am trying to contact Maj Ravindran.

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vashisthvivek

It is very disgusting. The apex body under the RTI Act, which has been entrusted with the responsibility of implmenting RTI Act, is acting againt the spirit of the RTI Act. The orders of the SIC seems illegal. The issuance of such orders may result in the removal of the concerned Information Commissioner (who passed such orders).

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karira

1. The RTI Act does not specify the "limit" for the number of applications one can file.

(Can the Court tell a citizen that he cannot file more than "X" number of cases in

a particular time period ?).

2. THE SIC has no powers under the RTI Act to issue such orders.

In fact the SIC is expected to see the implementation and observance of the

Act by the various PA's.

3. The Act is the RIGHT to Information Act.........one can easily go to court

against such a order by the SIC and file a writ for prevention of exercising his

RIGHT.

4. This is just a "escalation" of everyday problems that members of this forum and

other "citizens" face with PIO and AA. In this case the SIC itself has got involved.

5. If the RDO does not accept the RTI application from Major Ravindran, he should complain to the Kerala SIC and ask for imposition of Penalty under Section 20.

As discussed in some other thread, the imposition of penalty is "obligatory"

 

Colnrkurup has been continuously complaining against the Kerala SIC ever since he joined this forum. West Bengal seems to be another SIC which does not work properly.

 

Time to start reading Section 17 very carefully.....

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vashisthvivek

Yes. It seems that the day is not far away when people will start demading removal of the ICs. S. 4 makes it obligatory on the part of PA to disseminate maximum information suo-motu, so that the citizens may have minimum resort to the RTI Act. But it sad to see that the apex body under the RTI Act is violating the provisions of this remarkable legislation.

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maneesh

Can any one provide what is the no of petition filled by him and of what nature?

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ganpat1956

Hello Maneesh,

The entire discussion here is based only on the single press report in Indian Express. Beyond that none of us have any details regarding the nature and number of petitions filed by Maj Ravindran.

 

Interestingly another senior activist Shri Sarbajit Roy of Delhi is of the view that:

It is clearly not the job of RDO to act as a postman for forwarding RTI applications to concerned public authority. Based on this news report it is clear the Kerala SIC has rightly intervened to stop the misuse of section 6(3) by Major Ravindran who treats RDO like a Post Office.

 

I am sure we will see a lot of heated discussions on this subject.

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colnrkurup

The matter does not end with that. Mr.V V Giry, IC of SIC, Kerala in his power point presentation during CIC's Conference on 17-10-2007 (availablein CIC's site) had brought out that " resistance of PAs to provide information related illegal practices is one of theproblem faced by them ". But this appears to be a disinformation. Cityzens often ask information which if disclosed can expose serious acts of corruption/illegal practices. The government officials are found not comfortable with such application. Such information is invariably denied and the appellant prefer first appeal followed by complaint/second appeal to the SIC. Nothing stop the SIC in dispossing such cases strictly as per the RTI Act. But it is found that the SIC seggregate such cases and keep them in abeyance. When cases of such nature pending with them even since March 2006 (20 months old), they attend to other cases which are not even 2 months old. In case corruption is expossed accidentally during hearing, the SIC is found diverting the issue to merrit of the case supressing the entire episode of corruption expossed in his orders. On 10-11-2007 the SIC in his Press Conference at KOCHI has cautioned the public against misuse of the provisions of the Act blaming NGOs and social activists that they are going overboard and harrassing government officials. It appears that according to SIC asking such information is harrassment to government officials. 'The Hindu ' has highlighted that "SIC warns against using Act to harrass government offficials ". Mr.Karira has correctly brought out that it is high time for us to read Section 17 of the Act. Maj Ravindran has read it and initiated action. SIC's outburst on him and above orders to RDO and his press conference blaming NGOs and Activists is its outcome.

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vashisthvivek

It seems that the Kerala SIC is emerging as a leader of the organisations working against the RTI Act.

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karira
.....the SIC in his Press Conference at KOCHI has cautioned the public against misuse of the provisions of the Act blaming NGOs and social activists that they are going overboard and harrassing government officials. It appears that according to SIC asking such information is harrassment to government officials. 'The Hindu ' has highlighted that "SIC warns against using Act to harrass government offficials ". Mr.Karira has correctly brought out that it is high time for us to read Section 17 of the Act. Maj Ravindran has read it and initiated action. SIC's outburst on him and above orders to RDO and his press conference blaming NGOs and Activists is its outcome.

 

If anyone in any PA feels that a RTI applicant is harassing him, why doesn't he/she file a Police complaint against the applicant ?

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sn0udy

Get well soon SIC

I give flowers'n'flowers,flowers'n'flowers,flowers'n'flowers,flowers'n'flowers,flowers'n'flowers,flowers'n'flowers,

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colnrkurup

You said it ! The KSIC was Chief Secretary of Kerala State till two days before he assumed office of SIC . That by itself speaks volumes. He maintain close watch to see that none of his old comrades-in-arms are hurt by RTI Act. Let me quote a specific example of primary evidence. Believe it or not, it is truth, whole truth and nothing but truth. One of my case was heard by the Division Bench of SIC at Trivandrum. The RDO, Tellicherry , as the AA and myself were present. TheRDO kept on repeating the same old blatant lies given by the PIO. When the SIC is about to accept it I had brought out the prvisions of Section 18(3)© of RTI Act viz., receiving evidence on affidavit and insisted that the RDO should repeat the same in an affidvit and also had brought out that in case I prove that the affidavit is false the RDO will be liable for punishment. The SIC had no choice but to accept my plea and repeat it to the RDO. Immediately the RDO changed his statement and requestted theSIC to give him a chance to sort out the problem which cause me seek the information. The SIC gave one month time. But the RDO could not sort out the problem as his subordinateTahsildar and Town Surveyor does not obey RDO's orders. When I brought this to the notice of SIC by way of a complaint, he has issued judgement to give the information sought byme directing theRDO to settle the issue within two months. He has suppressed my entire arguements and the episode of false statement byRDO etc. It is another thing that theVillage Officer, Town Surveyor and Tahsildar does not bother about the orders given by the SIC in writing and theSIC does not bother when I reported back that even his orders are not obeyed.

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colnrkurup

Your response is well appreciated Mr.Karira. The problem is that the SIC consider seeking inconvenient information or an information which when disclosed is likely to expose corruption/illegal activities of government official is a harassement.He has warned against NGOs and social activists from using RTI Act to harass government officials(The Hindu - 12-11-2007 - Mangalore Edition). I am in contact with Maj Ravindran. His fault was that he found that the SIC in camp sittings dispose hardly 6 to 7 cases leaving aside the older cases from that district especially which are likely to expose corruption. Maj Ravindran found futility of such sittings incurring heavy expenditure to the State, sought the information of the total expenditure incurred in one of such camp sittings. The SIC became furious and ordered RDO,Palght not to accept appeals as stipulated in Section 5(2).

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karira
.........His fault was that he found that the SIC in camp sittings dispose hardly 6 to 7 cases leaving aside the older cases from that district especially which are likely to expose corruption. Maj Ravindran found futility of such sittings incurring heavy expenditure to the State, sought the information of the total expenditure incurred in one of such camp sittings........

 

Ok, it is becoming clearer now.

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colnrkurup

Kindly note that this thread had 91 views so far in such a short period. It shows as to what the like minded netizens are looking for. I think it is a good indicator of general nature of interest

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sagginyou

The observation of boarders are quite right that SIC has no right to stop any citizen from using his democratic rights unless such clause exist in the Act itself. In fact this attempt would be severe blow to the right to information campaign if it goes unchecked. Anyway the PA can use Section 7 if it takes away a substantial amount of fiscal resources...

Keep it up Maj Ravindran.......

In fact take this one step further...File a criminal case against SIC for violating the Act.

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karira

sagginyou,

 

Why waste time , effort and money in a criminal case which will just prolong matters.

 

File a RTI Application with the SIC and ask then to give you the reasons under Sec 4(1)(d) for this "administrative or quasi-judicial" decision since he is a "affected party".

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colnrkurup

Please have a heart Mr.Kaira. By now you may be well aware of the state of affairs with Kerala State Information Commission. The problem with him is he has no scruples. He just does not understand RTI Act especially Section 4(1)(d). I fully agree with you that filing a criminal case will be a waste of time and money.

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Justice

Putting the media on the trail will be more effective than getting into litigation.

Maj Ravindran's seems to have been reported in the press but has there been any media follow up?

The media normally do not take too much trouble with background research. We will have to do it for them in a sustained manner, punching holes in the SIC's arguments.

Perhaps it is time to give a detailed, researched analysis regarding this to all the media to take issue & follow through.

 

.

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colnrkurup

What I had observed is that the media in general is not interested much in RTI Act. Their interest often confined to reporting the utterances of VIPs on RTI. Mostly such reports were found to be disinformation like 'misuse of RTI Act' etc. RTI is an Act not welcomed bya few bureaucrates and some of the politicians. The media just cannot afford to invite their wrath. Even the most popular media just cannot afford to survive without the cooperation of bureaucrates. Outcome ? ke-zara-zara.

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skmishra1970

I think, State Information Commission has become a "Rehablitation Centre" of retired Beurocrates, and due to this such type of order is comming in light. This is one face of our Democracy. Hon'ble Supreme Court has feel this situation and correctly ruled in CWP 2010 / 2012 (Namit Sharma Vs Union of India) decided on 13-9-2012.

 

Another face is - Maximum misuser / user of law by Police, or any other authority is getting award for his best performance.

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Prasad GLN

Can any authority deny fundamental rights guaranteed in Constitution

Even IC in CIC has made an observation in a CIC decision to that effect and stating that PIO of IT has refused to furnish information.

The order challenges the validity of constitutional rights guaranteed to citizens.

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karira

skmishra1970,

 

Please note that the last post in this thread was in Aug 2008 !

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