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Madhya Pradesh govt set to clip RTI Act's wings

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Madhya Pradesh govt set to clip RTI Act's wings

 

As reported by Hemender Sharma in CNN-IBN Jun 19, 2008

 

BEFUDDLED: The Chief Information Commissioner, PP Tiwari, is calling it a strange move.

 

Bhopal: There could be a threat to one of the most potent weapons citizens have for questioning the system.

 

The Right to Information Act which has empowered citizens could see a change as the Madhya Pradesh government has through a gazette notification said they need to provide information to applicants now only in six months instead of the stipulated one month period.

 

In an election year, the notification means information sought today will not be out till the Assembly Elections later in the year.

 

The Chief Information Commissioner, PP Tiwari, is calling it a strange move that'll only end up misleading applicants.

 

"Public Information Officers are bound by the RTI Act and they have to furnish information within a month's time and no one can alter this except through an Act of Parliament," Tiwari says.

 

Information sought through the RTI Act has led to several embarrassing moments for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recent past.

 

The Chief Minister, however, denies knowledge about the notification itself.

 

"I don't know what it is all about. I'll first find out the details and then let you know," Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan replies.

 

But worried activists like Ajay Dubey, who has filed more than 1,200 applications under the RTI Act, are planning protests.

 

"They are trying to make the RTI Act such that it becomes ineffective and looses teeth. We will protest this move," Ajay Dubey says.

 

The information that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan is involved in the dumper scam was brought into public domain through the RTI Act and this notification now appears to be part of the BJP's strategy to deal with more such information that can lead to embarrassment to the party in an election year.

 

Madhya Pradesh govt set to clip RTI Act's wings

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It only shows the desperation of the Govt. If such a circular is indeed issued by the Govt it can be struck down by the High Court, if someone files a writ.

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Such amendments in violation of RTI Act 2005 should be vehemently resisted by all rti activists and should be challenged in High Court/Supreme Court. The notification in the gazette cannot amend central act. Even State Assembly cannot amend it.

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obviously it should be oppossed tooth and nail other wise such similar move out render many persons aimless and jobless

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V should start a petition for being signed by our members and guest visitors addressed to Governor and Chief Minister of M.P. It should be emailed to them. Such things should be stopped forthwith or else every tom will change and kill the RTI.

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Members,

 

Here's a clarification on the above.

 

Contrary to what has been reported by Media, it's a bit different.

 

As posted in HJ discussion group, this notification actually fixes some time period (6 months) within which the State Information Commissioners shall complete the hearing.

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It seems that the concerned officers could not manage it tactfully. In West Bengal we had experience of having some 'clever' PIOs , who don't bother even the direction of State Information Commissioner for providing information within the time schedule. AA is very much sympathetic to PIO of the same Department . SIC , particularly for this PIO , overlooked all the lapses. Recently one such letter was received from SIC, where , it seems that SIC , ignoring all relevent points of the appellant supported the PIO-- which probably PIO himself could not do.

Second point is that PIo will furnish , irelevant, misleading , incorrect information. AA in his order will simply mention - nothing could be provided or simply avoid appeal . Recently one 1st appeal hearing has been arranged after 7 months of submitting the 1st appeal . No body bothers. ( I do intend to eloborate this case afterwards. )

This news of Madhya Pradesh simply proves that officers are not yet well trained to "tackle" RTI applications and SIC of M.P is probably not that much sympathetic / soft towards PIOs.

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Hi Abhijeet,

 

If true, this order of MP Govt. is a step in right direction albeit in a

Lackadaisical manner. It is an feeble attempt to plug a major loophole in the original act.

 

As you know, no time limit is fixed on the Commissioners. They can take as much time as they want to decide on RTI Appeals.

 

If the Madhy Pradesh order is implemented then the Info. Commissioners are complelled to give a decision within 180 days.:)

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Dear all...

 

Good to see the view of concerned person over the 'Amendment'. But I must discard the 'interpretation' of the commenter. Well, let me bring more clarity into the matter as follows:

 

1) No State Government has the power to bring such 'SUBSTANTIVE' Amendment to RTI Act as the Act was passed by Parliament.

 

2) The Amendment which has been made by the government actually pertains to its own conforming rules specifying the duration within which the MP State Information Commission is required to dispose the Second Appeals that it receives. In the original rules, the SIC was required to dispose the Second Appeals in 30 days after the receipt of the case. Now the limit has been increased to 180 days.

 

3) Honourable CIC Shri Tiwari have actually commented down upon the government because he feels that even such rule making-amending (pertaining to specifying time limit to the SIC) is not under the powers of government. The reason being the same as specified above - as the RTI Act itself has not specified any time limit for the Information Commissions to dispose off the cases that these receive, no government can make such time limit.

 

4) But yes, the manner in which this Amendment has been presented by the media, waves of confusion and misinterpretation have rippled throughout the state. Some PIOs have gone even to such an extent that they have started giving in writing that the applicant will be given information in 180 days.

 

Bet regards

 

Sameer

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