Jump to content

No keeping away information now

Recommended Posts


No keeping away information now

As Reported by RAGHAV OHRI in Express India

Posted online: Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Chandigarh, March 4 With implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and increasing awareness about one’s rights, not only litigations pertaining to denial of information under the act have increased in courts, but also the demand for advocates has increased considerably.

Taking no chance of getting penalised or summoned by courts, in case they are unable to supply the demanded information, government and private institutions are hiring advocates to contest their cases in the courts.


Majority of cases that come to courts are mainly related with information not supplied, incomplete information or information other than the demanded one.


Why engage lawyers?


“The RTI Act has not only been implemented effectively but those who fail to supply information are being severely penalised by The Information Commission and courts. Moreover, since the information demanded concerns particular officials, the latter would never take a chance to attract strictures or penalty from the court, especially when the strictures can affect promotion,” said advocate D K Singhal.


“Courts slap heavy penalties on people who refuse to supply information and do not abide by the act. Since the penalty has to be paid most of the times by defaulters, they prefer advocates to contest cases on their behalf,” said advocate Swaraj Arora. Another crucial factor that makes lawyers’ engagement important is the time and energy that one wants to save by avoiding regular visit to courts.


Type of cases in courts


The majority of cases that come to courts are those that concern the non-supply of information demanded by individuals. “More than 8 per cent of cases are related to information not supplied by concerned party. After approaching appellate authorities, when people fail to get the required information, they finally approach courts not only to obtain court directions to get the information but also strictures against other party for not supplying it,” said Anil Kamra.


Another category of cases pertaining to the RTI, deals with a rather strange stand taken by authorities while denying the information. In majority of cases, it has been observed that authorities refuse to provide information saying that it is of private nature and could not be made available. However, when the matter is reported to courts and is found that the information was not of private nature, heavy penalty is slapped on erring officials.


Giving due importance to the RTI Act, for the first time, a division bench headed by Justice Uma Nath Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, to consider and dispose the pending appeal of an Amritsar resident within a period of four weeks.


The order was passed on October 2 last year. The petitioner, Rajan Verma, had demanded information regarding an alleged embezzlement by Canara Bank officials under the act. However, the information was not supplied and the commissioner kept on delaying in deciding Verma’s appeal.


A handy tool


Besides fighting cases against erring officials who fail to supply information or deny information on one account or the other, the lawyers of the Punjab and Haryana High Court are using the act as an effective tool to get information against government departments and then use it in filing public interest litigations (PIL).

The advantage of getting information under the act is — the cases are based on the information supplied by the department itself.


The misuse


While a majority of lawyers feel that the RTI Act benefits the general public, some feel that people are misusing it.

“Since so many people have started demanding information under the act, the burden has increased many folds on the officials responsible to supply it. The number of officials dealing with the RTI replies should be increased in every department to ensure efficiency,” said advocate Mahadev Singla.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have also noticed the trend in cases before the CIC.......that PA's, PIO's and AA's get help from professional lawyers to argue their cases. If ordinary citizens can understand this simple act and use it, wonder what is the need for lawyers ?


In any case, we ourselves (as taxpayers) are paying for the lawyers used by the Public Authority.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

That is an important point. PIO do indeed get professional help in defending the case. Many of the department have now formed 'RTI Cell' who would only deal with the RTI cases, and I find best of the Officers/officials in legal matters are getting posted there.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • sidmis
      By sidmis
      Now, become a certified RTI activist in five sessions
      Reported by Yogita Rao in D N A Friday, May 30, 2008 02:18 IST
      KC Law College will start two courses on how to file precise RTI
      applications from July
      You no longer need to be bogged down by the tricky loopholes in the
      Right to Information (RTI) Act or be taken for a ride by officials. A
      law college in South Mumbai has started a course that will help
      citizens become certified RTI activists who know the nuances of filing
      an RTI application the right way.
      KC Law College, Churchgate, is starting two courses on RTI — a
      foundation course and an advanced course, which would be the first of
      their kind in the country. The idea is to teach people the
      fundamentals of filing RTI applications.
      "People need to learn how to ask for information. It is a wonderful
      weapon available to us and we should make full use of it," said
      Neelima Chandiramani, the college's principal. "People do not even
      know how to ask to-the-point questions and end up writing long-winded
      The idea of starting the course was a result of brainstorming between
      Chandiramani and activist Shailesh Gandhi, who will be conducting the
      sessions. The course will begin from July and will run into five
      sessions of three hours each. The classes will be held on Saturdays
      and Sundays.
      Most of the course will be based on practical assignments, with
      candidates filing applications on topics given by the college. While
      both the courses will be open for all, the college expects people who
      have already filed applications to enroll for the advanced course.
      Gandhi said, "Information officers sometimes fool people if the
      questions are not direct. Though there is no perfect solution to avoid
      such discrepancies, the course will help people fine tune their skills
      as RTI activists." Gandhi said 95% of the applications he filed never
      exceeded 150 words.
      Mahesh Vaswani, the chairman of legal aid committee of GJ Advani Law
      College, said, "Filing applications should be made as easy as clicking
      the mouse on a computer." The committee had conducted RTI workshops
      for slum dwellers in 20 suburbs in the western region.
      DNA - Mumbai - Now, become a certified RTI activist in five sessions - Daily News & Analysis
    • sidmis
      By sidmis
      KC College students provide legal help to villagers, undertrials
      as reported by Menaka Rao in the DNA, June 7, 2010
      Mumbai: “Sampli sampli, bekari sampli (unemployment is over),” crooned students of KC Law College recently while educating villagers in Mulgaon near Ambarnath about the benefits of the national rural employment guarantee scheme (NREGS).
      They are members of the KC legal aid committee, which has partnered with the State Legal Aid Services Authority of the Bombay high court to provide legal aid and support to the needy.
      Formed in 2006, the committee has been helping undertrials, besides visiting villages and nearby towns to make people aware of their legal rights. It has five core members who gather other students when a programme is organised by the high court.
      “Visiting prison was an eye-opener, as my idea of one was very Bollywood,” said Ruju Thakker, 22, a committee member, who wants pursue criminal law after graduating.
      The group visits Arthur Road jail and Byculla jail every alternate week. Students are given forms related to plea bargaining and appointment of a lawyer.
      Undertrials can use their help to fill these forms, which are then submitted in the court. “We encourage plea bargaining (when the accused pleads guilty to get a lighter sentence). A lot of prisoners accused of petty crimes like theft opt for it,” said Vikas Thakkar, 23, another member of the committee.
      “Most undertrials complain about their appointed lawyers not turning up. When this happens, we inform the legal aid cell, which provides new lawyers,” said another student, Akshata Kamath.
      Thakkar was particularly moved by one girl’s plight. “A college-going girl, approximately my age, came to us and said she had been tricked by a friend who had asked her to deposit a cheque in a bank using a false name, which led to her arrest. She asked us to contact her parents and said she could not survive in jail much longer,” said Thakkar.
      Thakkar has also met undertrials like Maria Susairaj, an alleged accused in the 2008 Neeraj Grover murder case. “I was amused when I saw that she was using a Garnier shampoo, and had a box of chocolates by her side. Interestingly, she, too, complained about the terrible jail environment,” said Thakkar.
      Another student, Varun Saraf, 23, who often plays the role of an undertrial in the skits by the group, said, “We understand the psychology of the prisoners. Earlier, we would be taken in by whatever they said. But now we can figure out if they are fibbing or being honest.”
      Thakkar recalled her visit to Mulgaon village with justice KS Radhakrishnan. “We prepared a skit with Marathi songs. Since it was a Sunday, a lot of women and children also turned up. It was good fun,” she said. The group spoke about the problems villagers face — lack of electricity, roads etc. “We told them that they can use the Right to Information Act to seek answers from the establishment,” said Thakkar. The students also made charts that explained the process of filing an RTI application.
      The group also went to Dombivli recently, where a lot of redevelopment is taking place. “Some parts of Dombivli are governed by the gram panchayat, others by the municipality. The laws for the two are different. We told them about their rights in case they opt for redevelopment of their properties,” said Thakkar.
      In the next academic year, the group plans to work on juvenile justice law and the Maternity Relief Act that prescribes paid maternity leave for women.
      Source : KC College students provide legal help to villagers, undertrials - dnaindia.com
      Plz also See : http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/4401-now-become-certified-right-information-activist-five-sessions.html#post15168


  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy