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princepr

RTI, nuisance, corruption and future

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mahekovoor

well,i have nothing to comment with regards to 70%/30% theory.

 

i feel,corruption in our country till eighties were confined to limited areas like,RTOs,Registration dept,customs,excise and police etc.

 

However at present,i donot think there is a single department in our country,whether it is courts,defence,sch

 

ools,universities and so on...not free from the clutches of corruption.

 

earlier most of these corruptions were of meagure amounts and many were at lower levels and whoever took some bribes took it with an act of guilt atleast,whereas nowadays these corrupts are more at higher levels and whoever taking taking bribes feel like she or he should have demanded more than what he/she got.

 

Well,it is true that even following existing rules are enough to solve many of the problems. But when many of the law enforcers are breaking the rules.

 

like any other "weapons" RTI Act could be also used for cheap publicity and revenge at times. Only 5 years has passed since its enactment,comparing the good things emerged out of the usage of the rti,i feel any misuse of the rti act is negligible.

 

If only all the authorities publish all the informations like "Orders,Instructions and guidelines" concerning them and make them easily available,there will be large reduction in rti applications from public and thus time and money spent on replying rti could be reduced/eliminated.

 

If we look into majority of rti applications,one can see that,most of them relates to basic amneties like "isuue of ration card,voters identity card,building sanction,pf balance,telephone bills etc.." Even after 63 years of independence,is it not a pity that majority of us should file an rti application and wait35\65\90\180 and sometime infinity days for such basic documents/details? As such any misuse of the rti act if any should be tolerated by the authorities for their "tortures" of the past.

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sivak64
Dear members,

I am a PIO and would start this thread and present my point in a slightly different angle.

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princepr

Nice Mr. Mahekovoor. Thanks for taking part in the discussion. Your observations on the history of the levels of corruption is absolutely right. Earlier it was felt illegal. Now it is felt to be 'legal'. And sure, earlier it was in hundreds of rupees, now it is in crores. Earlier there were only a few corrupt, now there are much more. If we think over the reasons for this pathetic increase, there are many.

 

1. There is no transparency in the office

2. There is not much fool proof method to catch and prove corruption.

3. The corrupt is not punished in many cases. Even at all they are punished, the punishment is not proportionate to the degree of corruption.

4. Many law makers and politicians are in coccus with the corrupt officers. They act as the godfathers to save the corrupt.

5. Because of certain unhealthy trade union, service union mechanisms, it is very difficult for a non-corrupt officer to survive in the midst of all corrupt others. He will be either transferred or sidelined, thereby questioning his morale.

 

There are many more such reasons. It is true that RTI act will help in bringing transparency to the offices at least. That is really good also. My point is that RTI alone cannot do miracles. Our administration must change their minds in support of the non-corrupt.

 

Also,instead of blaming all officers as corrupt, our common public should understand that there are non-corrupt officers also. When we beat a crowd, we must make sure that only the criminals are beaten. If innocents are beaten, the nation building will be affected.

 

Yes it is sure that the misuse of RTI must be neglected when the use is considered. Any thing can be used for the good and the bad. My point is if somebody misuses the act, there must be provisions for penalizing the applicant too. But, of course the term 'misuse' also must be defined in the act- other wise our tricky PIOs will find every RTI questions a misuse. I will site the example of the Consumer protection act. There is provison of penalising the fake complainant. So people who really has consumer complaints file a complaint. With regard to RTI, let the applicant be granted any information relevant or irrelevant to him. That is his right. But he must be banned from sending defamation statements, mere allegations, unparliamentary statements, personal humiliation statements to an office under the shadow of the RTI act.

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princepr

Dear sivak64,

your reply in the board is not visible. Please look into it

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Shrawan

Thread upgraded to 'RTI THINK BOX'

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ramesh chandra

Sir I agree that the RTI ACT is being used by some mischievous people to settle their personal scores, just as in your case. But a simple threat to lodge a police complaint for stealing water may dissuade him. As regards the effectiveness of RTI Act is tremendous. I am also a government employee and I am of the view that majority of decisions taken by officers with regard to government orders are influenced either by their political bosses or their own selfishness. The government of the day does not like to be questioned about their decisions. Every act is likely to be misused by some people, but its effectiveness far outweighs its misuse. For improving the work-culture in our offices I am of the view that we should stick to our's own job responsibilities. Any work beyond our limits should be purely on voluntary basis and in an informal capacity. Moreover we should have the courage to say NO to our superiors for their relentlessness.

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snkmoorthy

dear princepr, i agree with every single word you have stated; RTI act has become a convenient tool for mischief mongers; from my own experience as a PIO, i can give hundred examples of such frivolous petitions under RTI. however, its benefits cannot be belittled; for the common man who had no weapon of any sort to fight the well entrenched govt office, now he has got a tiny pin with which he can prick them and perhaps goad them into action; let us [govt officers]not hold a grudge against the common man for possessing this weapon. a peculiarity of law, any law is that its misuse begins well before genuine benefits accrue to the public; take for example, the law against domestic violence against women; now many women are filing or threatening to file false petitions against men just out of spite or vengeance. this problem will always be there. no point in worrying about it.

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princepr
Sir I agree that the RTI ACT is being used by some mischievous people to settle their personal scores, just as in your case. But a simple threat to lodge a police complaint for stealing water may dissuade him. As regards the effectiveness of RTI Act is tremendous. I am also a government employee and I am of the view that majority of decisions taken by officers with regard to government orders are influenced either by their political bosses or their own selfishness. The government of the day does not like to be questioned about their decisions. Every act is likely to be misused by some people, but its effectiveness far outweighs its misuse. For improving the work-culture in our offices I am of the view that we should stick to our's own job responsibilities. Any work beyond our limits should be purely on voluntary basis and in an informal capacity. Moreover we should have the courage to say NO to our superiors for their relentlessness.

 

Nice thinking Mr. Ramesh. We are all here supporting the act. And the merits of the act cannot be considered less since somebody misuses it. As you said, superior officers may be biased to politics and so on. That is true. The need of the hour is we should have a set of non-corrupt impartial officers. My point is the misuse of RTI some how demoralises such officers for which India will have to pay in future. While upholding all the good things the act gives to a citizen, a citizen must be responsible too. There must be some provisons in the act to make him ask responsible queries under RTI rather than flooding and embarassing the PIOs and others in public office. The act is now 5 years old. It is not a small term. Think India is only 63 years old. We must be matured enough in the implementation of the act.

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princepr
dear princepr, i agree with every single word you have stated; RTI act has become a convenient tool for mischief mongers; from my own experience as a PIO, i can give hundred examples of such frivolous petitions under RTI. however, its benefits cannot be belittled; for the common man who had no weapon of any sort to fight the well entrenched govt office, now he has got a tiny pin with which he can prick them and perhaps goad them into action; let us [govt officers]not hold a grudge against the common man for possessing this weapon. a peculiarity of law, any law is that its misuse begins well before genuine benefits accrue to the public; take for example, the law against domestic violence against women; now many women are filing or threatening to file false petitions against men just out of spite or vengeance. this problem will always be there. no point in worrying about it.

 

Dear Mr.Snkmoorthy, Thank you very much. We as Govt. officers are public servants. All of us must remember that. The action of a few arrogant and irresponsible officers have made the face of the public service an ugly one. Those who have gone to a govt. office at least once will never say good things about those offices merely due to these insincere ineffective and corrupt officers. But, those doing genuine work in the offices never come front. Their efforts and hard work go unnoticed. They only do all the works in the offices. What I wanted to point out is that if unnecessary and unhealthy series of RTI questions are put into an office, it is these sincere officers suffer. The others would not even mind them. So if something is not done to stream line the art of putting RTI questions, I am afraid, a time will come when people will not take RTI questions seriously. And even the commissioner offices will be flooded with complaints. And the result will be that the genuine citizen who seeks a genuine information will get the same only after a long time. Information delayed means it is no longer an information in many cases.

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mahekovoor

dear prince,

 

on series of rti application,i remember my experience with the higher education department of "god's own country".

 

Just to get a copy of an agreement govt had with the management and some related information,i had to file 6 separate rti applications to the university,higher edu dept,education min,law department,technical directorate and to the Chief secretary,s office of kerala, and an appeal.

 

I had used very decent language and polite manners in all my applcations. Initially SPIO,higher education dept has redirected my application to CEE under him to reply. However,even CEE could not give the required information,i had filed an appeal with SPIO of higher education dept and further rti's to other dept. Finally,when all other dept has started redirecting my rti's to SPIO,higher education dept,he had sent me a copy of the agreement and still has not given other connected information sought by me in this regard. Well i will have to file further appeal etc.

 

From my experience,who is the villain here? Consider the mental agony,time and money spent on filing these rti's for genuine information. All those information were of public interest (if not affecting the entire population,atleast affecting a section of them) and could have been displayed in the website of the education department. Atleast the SPIO,higher education dept could have provided the information initially itself.

 

Now,who is responsible for the time,money and effort wasted in this excersise?

 

The time spent by those officers are not there personal time. They had spent the time comfortably, during their "paid working hours". The loss is for the "public" only as I have incurred the loss both as a "tax payer" and as an individual.

 

I am not trying to "exagerate" a personal experience. If you go through various posts in this forum,you can find many similar experiences.

 

However,i do sympathise with your personal experience in the implementation of rti in your area of work. But within the overall limitation of the act,you can restrict your answers for "nuisance questions"

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pcsharma60
Dear members,

 

Yes U r right, the corruption can not be resolved by RTI. Also there are so many issues, which also could not be resolved under RTI. U being an PIO know this very well. My opinion towards the RTI, it stands for Right to Ignore Act not the Information Act. The Commissioner of the Information Commission either are the head of the departments or the head of Government who were retired and take the responsibility to lead the commission. Similar is the story of Central Vigilance Commission. A Few months ago, one of the Vigilance Commissioner, Central Vigilance Commission paid his/her un-official visit to Amritsar. I had seen at that time various officers were there to receive the said Vigilance Commissioner. This is also a type of corruption. How we can eradicate or resolved such a major problem thro RTI. It is impossible for the society. Here in this world all are full of attachment, seeks fruit of actions and is greedy and always oppressive by nature and of impure conduct and is always affected by joy n sorrow.

 

Thanx a lot

 

P C Sharma

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Rajinder Bhatia

Dear Sir, There is an other side of the coin also. After independance, We are failed to establish true democracy in the country. A citizen without bribe can not think to get his work done. How the Public welfare funds are used is still a question. Rich and influential class have some previleges in the society. Previlege to be heard sympethatically is one of them. Just analysis the data regarding filing of applications, complaints and appeals under the Act, if 50 out of the 5000 are found to be misuse of the Act. Thank God that in the country of 115 crore there are 4950 persons those have courage to ask the HUKAMRAN something as their right. Postpone the discussion on misuse of the Act, First of all, let the citizens resotre courage to ask for their rights as citizen. Please do not discourage the information seekers with this long, useless discussions. Government officials are feeling harassessed due to this Act. What about the ordinary countrymen those have been harassessed by the so called Hukamran since 1947.

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princepr
Dear Sir,

 

Dear Mr. Bhatia. Thank you for the observations. Nice, we have to be caring towards the ordinary citizen of this country. No doubt in that. And only if they get the real power which they are entitled India can be truly democratic as Gandhiji dreamed. I am merely not advocating for the PIOs and other officers who are some times being harassed. Harassing is superfluous issue. If some public nuisance harrasses me in the shadow of the act, I wont care at all. But through this discussion I would rise the point that, if nuisances are not avoided, and if there is no control over the volume of information one can ask (presently no such proivisions in the act), our offices are likely to be flooded in the near future by RTi requests and complaints and the genuine common man will not get the real information in time. That is not the purpose of the RTI act. Please look at the example of our judiciary. If you file a civil case, it takes at least 5 years to get it settled in the lowest court. Appeals and others may take another 10 years. See a long 15 years to settle a case. Who suffers? We all. The same is likely to happen with RTI also. We must not allow that. RTI is such a treasure to the common man of this country. So instead of addressing the emotional happiness that RTI gives one, let us address the issueon actual and practical grounds.

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princepr
dear prince,

 

Thank you mahekovoor, dear friend, it is really sorry about your pathetic experience. I dont know why some useless PIOs are reluctant to give information. May be the psychology of them. I can proudly say that I respond to the maximum to all RTI questions I get. I have got some 30 RTI applications so far. 10 of them was from a nuisance. The rest 20 I gave nice answers I think. They even didnot file any first appeal. The case of the nuisance- he filed appeal for each of his application. Now I am negelecting him. I had a discussion with the commision too on the said nuisance. The rest is all good. Again since there is some nuisance, the greatness of the act does not vanish. My point is if we dont do something initially to control such things, I am afraid, the act may not be taken seriously in the near future.We cannot allow that.

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princepr
P C Sharma

 

 

Dear Mr. Sharma,

Thanks a lot. Yes exactly you are. As far as I understand, the problem of our society non-implementation of acts and laws. There are plenty of laws. 90% of them people even dont know. And majorities are not implemented. Or there are plenty of loop holes. See the typical example of traffic police. They catch people for alcohol mixed driving. Most of the times the culprit bribes the officers and escape. Yes again not all officers are making bribes. They charge fine. The horrible part is the very same drunk driver is released with the very same vehicle then and there. See, he is capable of killing many in a road mishap. Still the police do that. It is not a problem of the police alone. They will be in trouble if they abandon the vehicle and driver there. Because they have to take the vehicle to a shelter and like that. For that, they may not have gor instructions from the superior. These types of social problems exist in this country.

 

But RTI may help a little in fighting corruption. And atleast it is capable of making public offices and officers accountable. That is the virtue of the RTI, I feel.But we require a radical change. Otherwise we the people will go on suffering

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dev_chakraverty

Thanks for this thought provoking (seems to be unending) discussion.

If the Act is carefully read, there is a provision / direction wherein in all departments are required to be computerise, catalog and properly maintain information/data (A separate discussion is available in this forum). But the Govt depts are lethargic in using computers and modern methods and try to find new innovative excuses in not following the Act else providing information should be just a mouse click and mailing (e-mailing of course; free of cost without burdening the exchequer).

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colnrkurup

Mr.Prince,

 

" I have got some 30 RTI applications so far. 10 of them was from a nuisance "

 

Atleast I am curious to know a brief of the information sought in each of the above 10 applications and the dates of second appeals of all these 10 cases. It can throw light on the concept of "misuse" , how a PIO can survive by neglecting such application/appeals and how SIC could help a PIO to keep it neglected.

 

Your cooperation can open a pindora's box. In case you are not in a position to post those information, you may post it to me as private message . Your reply could be answer fo many unresolved riddles.

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max100ae

My experience with RTI application was that I got a reply from CPIO, EPFO stating that since the Indian postal order is not enclosed, we cannot provide the necessary information.

I remember keeping the postal order but it has been destroyed by the epfo staff to avoid answering the questions.

We need to educated the genuine info seekers on how to handle such cases.

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colnrkurup

Unfortunately there is no solution to such degradated moral turptitude other than exempliarary deterrant punishment when the authorities get opportunity to catch such culprits.

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princepr
Thanks for this thought provoking (seems to be unending) discussion.

If the Act is carefully read, there is a provision / direction wherein in all departments are required to be computerise,

 

Exactly you are. If we have a nice system of keeping records in the offices, half the struggle is over.

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colnrkurup

Thank you Mr.Prince. You were correct. Those messages were nuisance and were correctly neglected by you though it would have been more appropriate to reply that "The information sought by you is not held " . Thank you once again.

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princepr
Thank you Mr.Prince. You were correct. Those messages were nuisance and were correctly neglected by you

Thank you Mr.colnrkurup. Considering the virtue and right that the act gives one, such nuisances are negligible. But there must have certain control. All acts and laws have provisions to that.

 

RTI is the sword against the evil and every citizen must be responsible in using it. Imagine a situation without RTI. So we must be careful.

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princepr
My experience with RTI application was that I got a reply from CPIO, EPFO stating that since the Indian postal order is not enclosed, we cannot provide the necessary information.

.

 

In such cases, you can goto the PIO's office directly with your application and obtain a receipt then and there. It seems the only option. All the best. There are some other cases in which a PIO may say " I have received an envelope alone with a Postal order. There was no application in side it" - You can use a registered inland letter in that case

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aemc11

I have both types of experience with RTI. First one is good. I was not getting my salary arrears for 4 years, although I had requested the Office to deposit in my account. Then I asked through RTI, the amunt of arrears due to me, the date from which it is due, the interest the office has earned from this arrears, based on which law this arrears and the acquired interest is being held up. Within One Week, I got a call from the office to withdraw the application since they had deposited the arrears with interest in my account.

 

The second one is bad. I was executing a project on office automation. Some of my colleagues were against implementation of such progressive project. They arranged few people to put corruption charges against the project. They knew that I am not corrupt, so there was no charge against my name. But, they falsely entangled the names of other known corrupt people with the project. After some time, one RTI application regarding the corruption charges against these people and their involvement came. I had to answer that, which was a wastage of time. But, it followed with series of applications. The PIO was only too happy to forward them to me for answering. In fact, the PIO was not very keen for the failure of the project. Thereafter, I have to spend a lot of time on answering these RTI questions. The progress of the project hampered like any thing, because I was unable to think coherently for the project and could not focus on it due to the barrage of RTI questions I was getting almost every alternative day. Finally, I request the authority to leave me out of the project. After I left the project, it failed because no body took interest in its success. However, no RTI application has been received about the project since then for almost one year now. The money spend on this project is from public account, and is now useless.

 

Therefore, I believe that RTI is a double edged sword. It is upto us how to use it. We can use it for good or for bad. We in this forum are for the proper use of the RTI and not for its misuse. May be we can find ways to reduce its misuse in this forum.

 

There must be some laws which restrict misuse of any facility. That can be used to stop the misuse of RTI. It may require some effort. But, we should not do away with RTI. I strongly believe that RTI can be a weapon against its misuse also.

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