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Just 2 officers to handle 24,000 cases at SIC

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As reported by Faizan Ahmed of TNN in timesofindiaindiatimes.com on 10 September 2009:

Just 2 officers to handle 24,000 cases at SIC - Patna - City - NEWS - The Times of India

Just 2 officers to handle 24,000 cases at SIC

 

 

PATNA: The petitions are piling up at the State Information Commission (SIC) here. But there are only two information commissioners (ICs) to handle the cases. For, the post of chief information commissioners (CIC) has been lying vacant for almost a year now.

 

Patna High Court directed the state government more than once to appoint the CIC and fill up the vacant posts of ICs. Earlier, the state government informed the court that it had appointed J N Bhatt, retired chief justice of Patna High Court, as the CIC. But, early this week, when the court was hearing a PIL, advocate-general P K Shahi said Justice Bhatt had been appointed. But now, he has expressed the inability to accept the post.

 

The office of the CIC has been lying vacant following the retirement of Justice Shashank Shekhar Singh last September. Since then, only two ICs, P N Narayanan and Shakil Ahmad, both retired bureaucrats, have been in office.

 

Bihar Right to Information Manch convener Parveen Amanullah said the government kept the court in the dark about Justice Bhatt for several months though he had declined the offer long back.

 

She said the state never had more than three ICs. "The government is not serious and, since it does not intend to provide correct information to seekers, it is not appointing information commissioners," alleged Amanullah.

 

Nearly 24,000 cases have been filed with the SIC and over 14,000 are still pending. The situation is quite ironic. Bihar was once regarded as a model for implementing the RTI Act and introducing Jankari call centre for the benefit of people seeking information. It was also awarded gold from the Union ministry of personnel for the Jankari call centre under which people can seek information.

 

Jankari, a brainchild of chief minister Nitish Kumar, aimed at helping people living in the remotest corners of the state to submit applications for information under RTI by dialling 155311. The operator, receiving the call, would draft the application under the RTI Act and send the same to the authorities concerned for providing the requisite information.

 

The applicant is provided with a reference number of the application by the call centre. And, in case the information is not provided by the authorities, the applicant is entitled to file the first appeal to the appellate authority and later, the second appeal to SIC.

 

But Shiv Prakash Rai, an RTI activist, said the Jankari was just not a successful experiment. "Applicants, calling up, say something and the operator takes down something else. Also, the applicants are not provided any Jankari by the call centre, which takes money for the calls," he said, adding people are least interested in that mode of filing cases.

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      RTI activist Valmiki Yadav (40) and associate Dhramendra Yadav (34) were shot near their village Bichwe around 7 pm, The Times of India quoted Jamui SDPO Rampukar Singh as saying. Officials said that the accused first attacked the victims with rods and sticks before shooting them.
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