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karira

RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe

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karira

As reported by Ajay Khape in expressindia.com on 08 April 2008:

RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe - ExpressIndia.Com

 

RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe

 

Pune, April 07 If the Right to Information (RTI) Act empowered citizens by providing a weapon to keep a check on the administration and bring in transparency in Government functioning, the flip side is the misuse of the Act. An individual has been identified seeking information under the RTI for commercial use and Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) has asked for a report in the 73 cases filed by him on behalf of different applicants. “The possible misuse of the RTI Act came to light on a report submitted by tehslidar of Haveli taluka and Appeal Authority for Haveli taluka. It was revealed that 73 applicants with different names had filed appeal with the commission and handwriting in the applications also matched,” Chief Information Commissioner (Pune division) Vijay Kuvalekar said.

 

Doubts emerged after the Appeal Authority for Haveli taluka submitted during a hearing that an application has been filed with the common address not by the applicant, but a person, M N Patil, on behalf of the applicant, Kuvalekar said.

 

The CIC directed the tehsildar Sanjeev Deshmukh to send notices to all the 73 applicants on the given address while requesting them to appear in person for the hearing and submit a detailed report.

 

Deshmukh said he was receiving a lot of RTI appeals from the same address — in the name of various applicants, and that none of them appeared for the hearings.

 

As per CIC’s directions, Deshmukh said he served notice on the applicants on the common address.

 

Only two of the 73 applicants replied. It was revealed that Patil offered services like providing documents related to 7-by-12 extract to the applicant for cash and took signatures of clients on blank paper.

 

The signed papers have been converted into RTI applications by Patil without the knowledge of his clients. Deshmukh said the documents, information sought through RTI Act is given to the client and if they are incomplete, then an appeal is filed.

 

The inquiry further revealed that Patil was involved in a similar activity in Mulshi taluka. The appeal authority and tehsildar of Mulshi Avinash Shinde said, “We were fed up with the number of applications coming in from a common address seeking various information.”

 

Suspecting foul play, Shinde asked the police to investigate the cases by verifying the identity of the applicants on the given address. The police have submitted a report that none of the applicants reside in the given address and a person named, M N Patil, is using the property. He has admitted to filing the RTI applications on behalf of various persons, he said.

 

The CIC has expressed concern over the entire matter. “The commission is taking a serious note of it as the matter was serious and objectionable since it would encourage misuse of RTI Act,” Kuvalekar said.

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karira

A post by Mr Shahid Burney about his personal experiences with the PIO and AA of the Haveli Taluka:

 

A front page lead report in the Pune Newsline of Indian Express, Pune, dated April 08, 2008 “RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe” exhibits the state of our new breed of journalists. The headline is incorrect, as Vijay Kuvalekar is one of the Information Commissioner and not the Chief Information Commissioner. This again shows the caliber of our young journalists and equally the irresponsible sub editors, who could not even correct the errors in the report.

 

Well, the report lavishes praises on the tehsildar Sajeev Deshmukh and also the First Appellate Authority. It quotes the Information Commissioner as stating “The possible misuse of the RTI Act came to light on a report submitted by tehslidar (correct tehsildar) of Haveli taluka and Appeal Authority of Haveli Taluka – Vijay Kuvalekar, Chief Information Commissioner, Pune Division. (I do not know since when this post has been upgrade).

 

Now a classic example of my case would show how capable and worthy are the said Tehsildar Sanjeev Deshmukh and the First Appellate Authority Tanaji Shinde, the Sub Divisional officer, Haveli and superior of the PIO Deshmukh.

 

I filed a RTI application on 14 December 2007 with the PIO Deshmukh through the office of the SDO, Haveli, seeking information on the Anti Corruption traps and arrests of Talatis and Circle Officers in Haveli Division, as also how these people who were arrested twice were absorbed again in the same places and in the division without being transferred.

 

The PIO did not respond and accordingly I filed First Appeal with the SDO Haveli Tanaji Shinde on 22 Janaury 2008. I waited and when the FAA also kept silent for nearly two months, I filed Second Appeal with Vijay Kuvalekar, the Information Commissioner on 13 March 2008. On the same day, I handed personally a copy of the Second Appeal to the office of the FAA for his information at 10.30 a.m.

 

Here the FAA awoke up. And in the afternoon of 13 March he sent me a notice, dispatched by his office on 17 March and received by me on 20 March, directing me to attend for a hearing on March 24, 2008. Now one can see the mockery here, the FAA is asking me to attend a hearing in his Court when already the Second Appeal is filed with the Information Commissioner. This explains how good and learned are these officers. Both the PIO and the FAA kept mum for three months, perhaps to protect the corrupt.

 

Anyhow, as a courtesy I visited the FAA on 24 March and put my written submission before him as also informed him that:

 

1. The issuance of notice is without application and NRTI laws.

2. The FAA has no jurisdiction or powers to issue notices for hearing once the Second Appeal is filed with the Information Commission.

3. The notice is erroneous as the appellant is subject to hearing by an Appellate Authority and not to the SDO Court which is not related to the RTI Act.

4. The FAA is not a quasi judicial officer under the RTI Act and cannot give intimation of deciding a appeal ex-parte like a Court, if the appellant is not present.

5. Under Section 19 of the RTI Act, First Appeal has to be disposed off within 30 days from receipt of application and period extendable by 15 days if necessary.

6. As per Section 7 (9) it is also a failure on the part of the FAA to provide information in the form it was asked. I clearly mentioned this as my application was in English, and the FAA replied in Marathi.

7. As mentioned above, I told the FAA that as my Second appeal is already with the Information Commissioner, his actions were a mockery, null and void and that he had no jurisdiction to hear my appeal now.

 

The FAA Tanaji Shinde was pleading to forget the past and that he was prepared to provide me the all the information the same evening (24 March) or maximum the next day. I said that it is upto him, but I would insist the Information Commission for penal action. Also the PIO was not present though he was asked to be present on 24 March, when I was called for hearing. As of today, neither I have heard from the FAA or his promise to provide the information, which has not arrived as of today.

 

It’s a sorry affair of the RTI and how buffoons we have in the saddle to execute the RTI. Well, I think, Vijay, who had been our colleague in the profession, would do a fine job. As Masterji’s 66th birthday anniversary heralds on April 16, I think we would have reasons to march forward with his mission.

 

Shahid

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taurus

I fail to understand what misuse of RTI act is suspected in this whole affair as reported. If someone is helping some illiterate persons to make applications under the RTI Act, is it misuse? The insensitivity of the PIO and Appellate authorities is much more serious.

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opsharma

A news full of "sound and fury signifying nothing".Mr Patil is NOT an RTI Activist,and dont expect charity from him.He operates from a place(means cost),devotes his time (time means money),listening to people's requirements/grievances/complaints,uses his stationary(money again),writes applications on behalf of illiterate,poor,scared souls/ complainants/sufferers(services means money),delivers these applications to the respective(in this case crying and howling) PIO(transport plus service charges),gets replies,if not satisfied,files appeals and gets satisfactory answers.

This Mr Patil is rendering a yeoman'services as far as RTI is concerned,Tehsildar is howling because he is being compelled to provide information under RTI.

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colnrkurup

These are manifestations of opposition in implementation of RTI Act. The pity is that the media become part of the game. Firstly there is no term as "Misuse of RTI". A mere asking for an information cannot be coined as misuse. If the applicant is not entitled for the information sought the PIO is at liberty to deny it. There is no limit on the number of applications one can make. After all the information is not asked free of cost. It is purely on commercial basis by making the prescribed payment. The CIC or SIC has absolutely no authority to direct the Tahsildar to summon the applicant for hering. I wish some of our Activists at that area take the chalenge and teach the Tahsildar a lesson..

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opsharma

Kurup,have sent,a few minutes back, emails to the editor Indian Express,and rebuttal on Ajay Khape's online article Wednesday Apr09,2008. Most of contents are as per your comments,and hope you grant permission for that ipso facto.Hope like hell,these people have moral courage to publish my email.I can send you a copy ,if you so desire,please give your email add. Mine:mehlwal....................

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karira

opsharma,

 

Please avoid putting any email id and phone numbers on the forum.

The forum is visited by hundreds of "bots" (computer robots) daily to "snare" email id's and phone numbers.

You will be bombarded with junk email and telemarketing calls.

 

Just share them through PM.

 

In case it is necessary to put these, you can try to beat the bots this way:

 

mehwal at yahoo dot com OR nine eight three six two.........

 

Putting publicly annouced email id's or phone numbers is OK. (Like email of a IC or a telephone number of PIO, etc.)

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opsharma

thanks,was looking to send across an attachment.thanks a million again.

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sidmis

As Reported in Economic Times, 2 Aug, 2008, PTI

 

NEW DELHI: The Right To Information (RTI) Act is being "misused" in

many cases under the garb of seeking information for public interest,

Law minister H R Bhardwaj said on Saturday.

 

Speaking at the inauguration of a two-day All India Conference of the

Central Administrative Tribunal here, the minister said, "the Right to

Information has still not settled and it is being misused in many

cases and there are characters who are not interested in RTI getting

into it."

 

"But slowly this law will get settled. It would get over the teething

problems and this law will also be strengthened," Bhardwaj said.

Praising the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) for disposing of

over five lakh cases since its inception, the minister said almost all

tribunals are doing a good job. All those matters that can be sent to

tribunals without compromising on the quality of justice should be

encouraged to be sent to them.

 

Bhardwaj, however, cautioned that creation tribunal or enactment of

laws like RTI alone would not ensure justice, especially for

government employees.

 

"Unless there is a desire and an instinct to give justice to your own

subordinates it will not happen. So far as grievance is concerned, it

should be resolved within the head of the department or the ministry.

There will be lesser litigation if we do that and the government is

committed to it," he said.

 

Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan welcomed the initiatives in

the field of service jurisprudence, including the CAT experiment. "It

is in the interest of state to address the grievances of the employees

so that they can effectively serve the general populace," he said.

...

RTI is being misused in the name of public interest: Bhardwaj - Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times

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sidmis

As Reported in Economic Times, 2 Aug, 2008, PTI

 

NEW DELHI: The Right To Information (RTI) Act is being "misused" in

many cases under the garb of seeking information for public interest,

Law minister H R Bhardwaj said on Saturday.

 

Speaking at the inauguration of a two-day All India Conference of the

Central Administrative Tribunal here, the minister said, "the Right to

Information has still not settled and it is being misused in many

cases and there are characters who are not interested in RTI getting

into it."

 

"But slowly this law will get settled. It would get over the teething

problems and this law will also be strengthened," Bhardwaj said.

Praising the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) for disposing of

over five lakh cases since its inception, the minister said almost all

tribunals are doing a good job. All those matters that can be sent to

tribunals without compromising on the quality of justice should be

encouraged to be sent to them.

 

Bhardwaj, however, cautioned that creation tribunal or enactment of

laws like RTI alone would not ensure justice, especially for

government employees.

 

"Unless there is a desire and an instinct to give justice to your own

subordinates it will not happen. So far as grievance is concerned, it

should be resolved within the head of the department or the ministry.

There will be lesser litigation if we do that and the government is

committed to it," he said.

 

Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan welcomed the initiatives in

the field of service jurisprudence, including the CAT experiment. "It

is in the interest of state to address the grievances of the employees

so that they can effectively serve the general populace," he said.

...

RTI is being misused in the name of public interest: Bhardwaj - Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times

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taurus

What is misuse is to be elaborated. In the application or usage of any act there may be instances of infructuous or time-wasting behaviour on the part certain users. This cannot be a justification to tamper with the fundamental right of information. It is dangerous to give too much credence and weightage for such so called 'misuses'.

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colnrkurup

I still maintain that the cry of misuse of RTI Act whoever makes it is a farce.

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hkdubey

Is there is any section of RTI where an application for information can be classified as Misuse? I think it is not there. It will be nice for the PIO if that sub section is included in section 8. All problem will be over.

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vijendra singh

By crying 'misuse' ,they are actually trying to harm the holy RTI act05. The cry makers are only the I.Cs & the govt . Why any other person of our country did not raise such an issue ? .

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hkdubey
By crying 'misuse' ,they are actually trying to harm the holy RTI act05. The cry makers are only the I.Cs & the govt . Why any other person of our country did not raise such an issue ? .

Right, For them this is new trouble that they cannot reign under the secrecy act Like Britishers were doing. I pity them but we have to be vigilant. They are very powerful like british rulers were. But I am of the opinion "Changes are brought by few sinceres only we dont need mass>> Mass will be created" we will work till end.

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Dr. M. Faiyazuddin

We discuss and help others in using RTi. Is it a misuse or a service?

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sandeepbaheti

Definitely a service. As very rightly pointed out by Col Kurup, "the cry of misuse of RTI Act whoever makes it is a farce."

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colnrkurup

With the "MEDIA" assuming the role of godfather of bureaucrates as regards RTI Act, allegation of miuse of RTI Act is gaining momentum. Firstly I still maintain that it is farce. Secondly, let us consider that what stop a ciyzen from misusing the RTI Act ? Yes it is misused. So what. Will any PIO or AA or SIC or CIC have the confidence to deny the information on a plea that it is miused ?

 

Let us look at Section 6(2) of the Act .-An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information .Hence nothing stops an applicant from requesting for information purely FOR MISUSING. The act imply that the information could be asked for any reasons and no reason is there to be given.

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jps50

All laws are misused. Dowery, domestic violence, CPC, Cr PC and even govt officials and police are misusing laws for decades. Even delay in judiciary is being misused by many. No one is crying. It is only so called misuse of RTI that there is hue and cry. What a double standard. Any change for good is painful.

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nk agarwal

what about custodian of information (public authorities) filing false affidavits in courts to deny justice to thousands of applicants. We should not forget the biggest litigant today is the Govt. using poublic money and time to deny justice. RTI ACt-2005 provides just a small oportunitiy to the applicants to obtain certified documents/records which otherwise remain out of reach.

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sngupta

If anyone on this portal may tell me, how RTI may be misused?

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colnrkurup

I have been asking the same question to everyone who associate 'misuse with RTI'. No answer. My reply to them was " SO WHAT ?"

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Justice

Obviously the govt officials 'misused' the gullibility of the media, who in turn are just looking for 'hot news' again to out smart the next reporter or in the case of the media, the competeing media.

To hell with all responsibility of reporting seems to be the medias' attitude. How often do they follow up 'sensational' headlines of yesterday?

So to make use or misuse of the media one has to give sensational news - never mind the accuracy.

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sngupta

An human being having a body. Who made this? There is so many conventions on the birth of human being. The economy which was develped by human being himself for proper utilisation of natural resources can not be saved on the individual privacy. Every human being is bounded to provide the information of all economic activity. It is not a question that any information can be misused.

 

Use or misuse is no subject for consideration to provide informations.

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Dr. M. Faiyazuddin

The appellant also gives a declaration that he is not seeking the information for the purpose which is detrimental to the interest of the nation or otherwise. Less than one percent of Indians have started using RTI and if they are scared, what will happen to this law. In fact I am of the view that severe strict action is required against PIOs who provide misleading, incomplete, belated and distorted information.

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      By Shrawan
      There can be no faith in government if our highest offices are excused from scrutiny - they should be setting the example of transparency.
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      CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION




      Appeal No.ICPB/A-1/CIC/2006


      Right to Information Act – Sections 6/18

      Name of Appellant : Satyapal
      Name of Public Authority : CPIO, TCIL

      DECISION


      Decisions appealed against :
       
       
      The CPIO, TCIL has declined to supply a copy of a document on the ground that the same forms part of “file Noting” which, according to CPIO is exempt under the RTI Act. Appellate authority also has confirmed the decision of the CPIO. The appellant contents that he has the right to seek information contained in the “File Notings”.
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      Shri Satyapal – appellant, a resident of Delhi, applied to the CPIO, TCIL seeking for copies of certain documents by a letter dated 17th October, 2005. By a letter dated 14th November, 2005, CPIO, TCIL furnished copies of certain documents, however, stating that a particular document sought for was a file noting in the Department of Telecom and as such it was exempt from disclosure. By a letter dated 17th Nov. 2005, Shri Satyapal again wrote to the CPIO, TCIL pointing out that the information sought for by him did not fall within the ambit of Section 8 of the RTI Act and as such the same should be supplied. He also brought to the notice of CPIO, TCIL that in respect of information already furnished, a copy of a bill in respect of advertisement relating to independence day 1996 had not been supplied. By a letter dated 28th Nov. 2005, the CPIO, TCIL while furnishing a copy of the bill, once again reiterated that file notings are exempt from disclosure in terms of the clarification given by the Department of Personnel in their website. Aggrieved by this decision, Shri Satyapaul preferred an appeal to the appellate authority by a letter dated 14th Dec. 2005 stating that file notings are not exempt from disclosure in terms of Section 8 of the RTI Act. He followed up the same by letters dated 14th Dec., 31st Dec. 2005 and 5th January, 2006. The appellate authority by a letter dated 5.1.2006 rejected the appeal stating “The information sought by you pertains to the file notings of the Department of Telecommunication as also that of TCIL. I am of the view that TCIL is exempted from disclosing the information sought by you under Section 8(1)(d)&(e) of the RTI Act. UO No.7-17/95-PP dated 4.10.1995 is a part of file notings. You have mentioned in your appeal that the information has been denied misconstruing it as “file notings” by CPIO, TCIL. I confirm that these are notings in the file”. Aggrieved with the decision of the appellate authority, Shri Satyapal has filed this appeal before this Commission. According to Shri Satyapal, there is no specific exemption from disclosure as far as file notings are concerned in Section 8 of RTI Act.
      Commission’s Decision :
      It is seen that while the CPIO declined to furnish the information sought for on the ground that file notings are exempt from disclosure, the appellate authority, without confirming or rejecting the stand of CPIO that file notings are exempt from disclosure, has relied on Section 8(1)(d) and (e) of the RTI Act to deny the information.
      As is evident from the Preamble to the RTI Act, the Act has been enacted to vest with the citizens, the right of access to information under the control of public authorities in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of any public authority. Conscious of the fact that access to certain information may not be in the public interest, the Act also provides certain exemptions from disclosure. Whether file notings fall within the exempted class is the issue for consideration.
      Section 2(f) defines information as “Any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinion, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law or the time being in force”.
      Section 2(j) reads : “Right to information means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to (i) inspection of work, documents, records; (ii) taking notes, extracts or certified copies of document or records; (iii) …… (iv) …. “. In terms of Section 2(i) “Record” includes (a) any documents, manuscript and file;
      In the system of functioning of public authorities, a file is opened for every subject/matter dealt with by the public authority. While the main file would contain all the materials connected with the subject/matter, generally, each file also has what is known as note sheets, separate from but attached with the main file. Most of the discussions on the subject/matter are recorded in the note sheets and decisions are mostly based on the recording in the note sheets and even the decisions are recorded on the note sheets. These recordings are generally known as “file notings”. Therefore, no file would be complete without note sheets having “file notings”. In other words, note sheets containing “file notings” are an integral part of a file. Some times, notings are made on the main file also, which obviously would be a part of the file itself. In terms of Section 2(i), a record includes a file and in terms of Section 2(j) right to information extends to accessibility to a record. Thus, a combined reading of Sections 2(f), (i)&(j) would indicate that a citizen has the right of access to a file of which the file notings are an integral part. If the legislature had intended that “file notings” are to be exempted from disclosure, while defining a “record” or “file” it could have specifically provided so. Therefore, we are of the firm view, that, in terms of the existing provisions of the RTI Act, a citizen has the right to seek information contained in “file notings” unless the same relates to matters covered under Section 8 of the Act. Thus, the reliance of the CPIO, TCILO on the web site clarification of the Department of Personnel to deny the information on the basis that ‘file notings’ are exempted, is misplaced.
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      Since we have held that file notings are not, as a matter of law, exempt from disclosure, the CPIO, TCIL is directed to furnish the information contained in the file notings, on or before 15.2.2006 to the appellant. However, if the CPIO, TCIL is still of the opinion that the said file notings are exempt under Section 8(d) & (e), he is at liberty to place the file notings before the Commission on 13.2.2006 at 11 AM to determine whether the same is exempt under these sections and even if so, whether disclosure of the same would be in the public interest or not.
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      Sd/-




      (Padma Balasubramanian)




      Information Commissioner




      Sd/-




      (Wajahat Habibullah)



      Chief Information Commissioner


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