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Atul Patankar

Listening to complaints 9 to 5

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Atul Patankar

As reported at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 25 August, 2009

 

LUCKNOW: The working of the State Information Commission (SIC) might soon be a `9 to 6' thing. In order to implement the provisions inherently defined under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, UPSIC has come up with Rules-2008 and having well-defined working hours is just one part of it.

 

If these provisions get implemented, commission will have defined vacations as well. More than anything else, it will be helpful for the applicants who rue they never get a timely hearing. The SIC has evolved a set of regulations with a purpose to expedite the functioning of the commission and dispose cases as soon as possible.

 

The regulations have been already uploaded on UPSIC website and await a formal approval from the new chief information commissioner. When contacted Ranjit Singh Pankaj, the new CIC said, "We will look into their implementation."

 

The new regulations specify that applicants will have to be more restrained in voicing their complaints as the SIC will only consider appeals written in dignified language. Besides, the complaints/appeals will have to be completed in all respects.

 

These regulations are already defined in the Act but the motive is to lay stress on them as a set of new regulations is to do with regularising these provisions. If these regulations come into force, even the old cases marked for further hearings will be dealt with in accordance with the new guidelines.

 

The Rules-2008 have also taken into consideration the common complaint that lot of applicants could not make to the hearing as they are not informed on time by the commission. With new regulations being implemented, applicants will have to be informed seven days in advance of the date of hearing.

 

Besides, after coming into force, the rules will make filing of appeal/complaint a bit of `responsible' affair for applicants/complainants. To give commission a proper view into his case, applicant/complainant will have to attach self-attested copies of the applications submitted to the PIO along with the receipt of the fee deposited and of the PIO's order, if any.

 

The `rules' will make the functioning of the commission orderly and timely. The main motive behind formulation of this set of rules is to get exercise checks right at the entry level of the commission. There are many applications seeking information from one or the other government department that come directly to the commission instead of going to the department concerned.

 

If applicants are made to follow the new rules much of this burden on commission's staff will be reduced. The practice of accepting only the right kind of application is already present in other state information commissions. It is a broad-based plan defining the work of commission's officers as well. But it can make a change only when it gets implemented.

 

Source: Listening to complaints 9 to 5 - Lucknow - City - NEWS - The Times of India

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Atul Patankar

The rules being implimented in August - 2009 are named 'RTI Rules - 2008!.

I am attaching the Hindi rules to this post

 

The rules say the commission will enjoy a 2 weeks summer holiday and another 2 weeks winter holiday! Do any other commissions enjoy such facility? And why is is necessary - except to contunue the good old British tradition?

 

Rule 11(5) says that the Registrars decision on tenebility (पोषणीयता) of an appeal/ complaint will be final, and the appeal/ complaint will be registered and a serial number issued only of the registrar finds it tenable and as per rules.

 

Rule 12 says that the PIO/ FAA may depute a person one rank below herself provided explanation about inability of personal attendance is provided - however, it does not specify that such explanation has to be in writing!

 

Rule 13 (1) is about hearings by individual SICs or their benches. Has the DoPT accepted validity of benches for UP?

 

Rule 15(2) allows appellant/ complainant to remain absent during appeal hearing IF HE DECLARES HIS CHOICE IN THE ORIGINAL APPLICATION. If he remains absent after initially intending to remain present, the SIC will give an ex-parte decision, and MAY give the applicant one more chance to make his argument.

 

However, the rules for absence of PIOs and FAAs, and the maximum number of opportunities offerred them, are not specified.

 

Rule 23 empowers Chief SIC to hear 'special leave petitions' against decision by other SICs. Is this as per law? If a highcourt justice gives a judgement, does the appeal go to supreme court or to chief justice of the same high court? Is the chief SIC superior of other SICs or is he just first among equals?

 

Rule 24 says the death of an appellant/ complainant will render the appeal void. We had discussed this earlier on this forum. This may encourage murder of an appellant in very serious matters!

 

Rule 26 : "जो भी दस्ता वेज संलग्न किया जायेगा वह अंग्रेजी या हिन्दी जिस भाषा में भी होगा उसमें ही उसे नत्थी करके भेजा जाये।" does this mean that, if the document is hindi, I have to attest in Hindi, and sign it in Hindi? Why?

UP SCIC rules (Final Copy).doc

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