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Govt official fined under RTI Act

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Govt official fined under RTI Act


AS reported in Times of India 20 Jun 2008, 0416 hrs IST,TNN



PATNA: State Information Commission on Thursday slapped fine on a government official for his non-adherence to provisions of Right to Information (RTI) Act.


The district superintendent of education of Saran district would have to cough up a fine of Rs 25,000 for not providing information to one Ram Kishore Tiwari.


The commission directed the erring official to provide relevant information to the applicant by July 25 and fixed August 7 as the next date of hearing of the case.


In another case, the commission directed the managing director of the Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA) to send public information officials of the authority for a special training on RTI Act. The commission also observed that it was necessary so that the PIO did not face any problem while giving information to applicants under RTI Act.


Govt official fined under RTI Act-Patna-Cities-The Times of India

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    • By karira
      A perusal of Section 20 of the Act shows that it makes a provision to impose penalty either on Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer. However, there is no provision to initiate a departmental inquiry against the First Appellate Authority as per the Section 20 of the Act.
    • By Shrawan
      High Court of HImachal Pradesh
      We find no provision in the Act which empowers the Commission to either reduce or enhance this penalty. If the Commission comes to the conclusion that there are reasonable grounds for delay or that the Public Information Officer (P.I.O) concerned has satisfactorily explained the delay then no penalty can be imposed. However, once the Commission comes to the conclusion that the penalty has to be imposed then the same must be @ Rs.250/- per day and not at any other rate at the whims and fancy of the Commission. To this extent the petitioner is absolutely right. The penalty either has to be imposed at the rate fixed or no penalty has to be imposed.
    • By ganpat1956
      NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 22: Using your right to information could not get easier than this. Soon, Bihar will be the first and only state in the country where, instead of writing and submitting your RTI application on paper, you can ask your queries orally via phone as well as receive the information the same way.
      This facility assumes significance given the low literacy levels in the state helping the citizen bypass the need of drafting questions, filling oput the form and submitting it to the department.
      Once implemented, anybody seeking information under the RTI Act in Bihar can call on a specific phone number — which will be a routed to a call centre — from anywhere in the country and orally ask for the information she wants. The call will be answered by an executive trained in the use of RTI, who will draft and type the questions and send it to the department and public information officer (PIO) concerned.
      The information, once ready, will be sent by the PIO directly to the caller. In addition, it can also be delivered to the caller via phone.
      “We are working on the technical details. I have assigned some officers for the project. Once the details are worked out we will be able to tell when the facility will be ready,” Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told The Indian Express. Nitish, the prime mover of the project, is said to have been impressed with the idea when it was first proposed to him last month and immediately gave directions for its implementation.
      Language will not be a barrier in this new system. “The call center will be equipped to take calls in English, Hindi, Bhojpuri, Maithili and all other dialects spoken in Bihar,” Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Chief Minister Chanchal Kumar said.
      “The project will be an extension of the telephonic public redressal system that is already in place. It will involve the department of Personnel, National Informatics Centre and the telecom department who are jointly working on it,” he added.
      To implement this system the state government will require to make a few amendments to the RTI Rules. While the call center will have to be declared an assistant public information officer (APIO), acceptance of fee on phone will have to be included in the rules as an accepted mode of fee payment.
      The government will take assistance from Delhi-based NGO Parivartan. “This facility will take RTI to the illiterate masses in rural areas. Besides, RTI applications can be filed in a few minutes as against a few days it takes today,” said Parivartan founder Arvind Kejriwal. “One of the main problems that people are facing at present is not knowing which department to approach for which kind of issue. That problem will now be taken care of,” said Kejriwal.
      RTI on the phone
      • A dedicated phone number called the RTI Application Number routed to a call centre in Patna.
      • You may call this number for a fee of Rs 10 (the application fee) plus call charges for the duration of the call.
      • Give your name, address and the information you want
      • Phone conversation will be recorded and details typed into the computer which then is your application. • Call centre forwards the application to the relevant authority, sends a copy to you.
      (Source: The Indian Express, Dec.23,2006)
    • By ganpat1956
      Bangalore: Karnataka would do well to follow the Bihar example and make it possible for citizens to file Right to Information (RTI) applications over the telephone, said Aravind Kejriwal, Magsaysay Award-winner and founder of the Delhi-based NGO Parivartan.
      Delivering the keynote address at a public awareness programme on the RTI conducted by the Karnataka State Chartered Accountants Association, Bangalore University and Doordarshan, the well-known activist said the next step forward for the effective implementation of the RTI Act was simplifying the process of application.
      Bihar had evolved a system of accepting applications over the phone. Karnataka, being the hub of information technology, could do it easily, he said. It could be done in 10 days and would cost as little as Rs. 1.5 lakh a month, he said.
      Penalty clause
      Mr. Kejriwal also emphasised the need to strengthen the functioning of the Information Commission and ensure that it was strict on bureaucrats who refuse to follow the RTI guidelines. The crucial clause of the Act, he pointed out, was the one which said that a penalty would be deducted from the salary of erring officers.
      Even honest officers tended to evade the responsibility because they are “culturally not oriented to give information to the public”, Mr. Kejriwal said.
      Citing several examples to illustrate how the RTI had helped a range of people, from a daily wage earner to a software engineer, he called it a radical piece of legislation that ensured that an ordinary citizen no longer felt “helpless” before the system. “It is an opportunity to make a difference in governance,” said Mr. Kejriwal, and urged people to file applications on ongoing schemes in their localities to ensure that the government machinery was accountable and responsible. He also emphasised the role of the Lokayukta in ensuring that action was taken on the information obtained.
      Recalling the genesis of the legislation, he said it had its roots in the struggle launched by a labourers association with the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan started by Aruna Roy in Rajasthan. The labourers had demanded that they be shown the muster rolls because they were getting Rs. 12 instead of the Rs. 24 they were promised. The struggle was carried forward by pioneers such as Anna Hazare in Maharashtra. “The right to information is fundamental to the very existence of democracy,” said Mr. Kejriwal.
      The Hindu : Karnataka / Bangalore News : RTI Act: State urged to follow Bihar example
    • By sidmis
      Bihar is one of the first states to accept right to information applications on phone. The objective was to ensure transparency and to expand its reach to villages, where the literacy rate is low. But the real picture is different.
      BIHAR GOVERNMENT established the ’Jankari’ call centre on 29 January 2007 under the guidance of Ramon Magsaysay Award winning social activist, Arvind Kejriwal. Though it was not working in all the districts, but it was working well in the state capital. Vibhav of Parivartan, a social organisation, was monitoring the functioning of the call centre.
      Soon after he left, the call centre adopted a laidback attitude. It is a user friendly ICT (Information and Communications Technology) based facilitation centre to help citizens of Bihar in getting governance related information from public information officers (PIOs) under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) within stipulated time frame. But people are facing hurdles in framing applications with this service.
      Activists complain that the phone lines are often jammed, giving mental tension to the caller. According to some activists, the person framing the questions of the applicant is himself not much aware about the RTI Act. Therefore, the applications are often weak and thereby fail to trap the corrupt bureaucrats. It is also seen in some cases that the questions are not framed according to the desire of the applicant. This results in wrong interpretation of the information furnished by the applicant.
      Use of ICT tools have been widely appreciated by the media and the people because of its user friendly format. It would be very useful for the rural people, who can get information without having to visit the office. But people are not able to use this facility, as it is not working in the villages as well as in the cities.
      The sources say that Bihar has received nearly 1,700 telephonic applications on its number 155311 from the time it was established. Each call costs Rs 10 as fee and a copy of the application is sent to the applicant through courier.
      "Nobody is picking up the phone, I wonder if the call centre still exists," says Sarfaraz, a Patna based social activist working on RTI. He further added that he tried to contact the call centre a number of times in the first week of October, but nobody picked up the phone even once.
      Recently, activists of different districts tried the number of the call centre, but the call was dropped each time. This shows technical errors, which are yet to be fixed.
      However, any organisation can replicate the project of ‘Jankari’. Any private group can adopt this concept and it does not require any intervening government department. But the private organisation will have to enter into an agreement with the Government so that the necessary fees for filing of application under RTI Act could be deposited with the government treasury.

      24 October 2007
      Faroghe Azzam
      Technology fails to provide information under RTI in Bihar

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