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Shrawan

Suggestion for improvement of RTI Act and it's functionality

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Shrawan

I intend to start this discussions where we can suggest points for improving the RTI Act and it's usage amongst citizens and Government.

Some of the Point I can think of to start with are:

  1. Introduction of Credit card payment though a nodal agency who can in turn be authorized to accept the application and forward it to respective authority and also who would send the reply back to applicant.
    • For example, we we are RTI India accept the application, complete the formality and forward it to respective CPIO/Appellant Authority and in turn the CPIO respond us back which we send it to the applicant.

[*]Compilation of decision based upon matter, rather than just based upon appeal number from CIC. We had already planned to do so at RTI India, if only we are spared from our job of CPIO ;) This would greatly help all Government Officers and citizens to quickly know the status.

  • For example, if some search for 'Passport' application, it should give all the decisions taken by CIC and also based upon relevance (to be decided by popular/expert votes) the search result should appear.

[*]Mandatory & enforceable proactive disclosure.

Kindly use this thread for suggestion of your's for improving ACT, the Machinery and awareness about RTI amongst citizens.

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ganpat1956

It is going to be a very interesting discussion that you have initiated Kushal.

 

For payment of application fees through credit cards, we require to rope in the services of the card issuing companies and make them waive their charges, which are normally in the range of 2% to 3%( and for a low value transaction, they may even want to charge more).

 

Creation of a nodal agency to accept and forward the RTI applications on behalf of the applicants may require appropriate changes in the Act/Rules.

 

I welcome the idea of compilation of decisions based on matter. The RTI Act itself is in a nascent stage and this is the right time to start building a repertory of subject-wise case-law, which will become very handy for any future reference. Initially it requires a lot of work sifting through various decisions. But once all the existing decisions are properly indexed and compiled, then all subsequent decisions can be simply added easily.

 

If you feel that there is any specific are of work that can be allotted to individual members in this process of compilation, please do not hesitate. We are here to help you in building up this portal.

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maneesh

Thats a big task ,

I believe forums are good for discussion but for summary of information we urgently need Wiki. This will help to put all such information in a structured fashion which can be edited by our members.

 

Seems in future there is lot of action for RTI India.

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MK Singhal

In the case of appeals/complaints to SICs (State Information Commissions), the Appellant/Complainant is located far away from the office of SIC (eg I, an Appellant/Complainant, is located at Noida and my SIC concerned is located at Lucknow) hence it is difficult for Appellant/Complainant to present themselves for hearing at the office of SIC, specially so since the time between the notice and hearing is very small.

 

In most such cases, SIC passes orders exparte. I was wondering if the following suggestions could be got implemented by SICs:

  1. The office of SIC should give the appeal/complaint number and the date of hearing in his office as soon as the appeal/complaint is received and accepted for hearing, say within a week, as is done in the normal courts where appeal number and date of hearing is fixed soon after the appeal is received and accepted for hearing (generally within a week of receipt of such appeal). It is of course understood that the date of hearing would be fixed according to the time schedule of the Hon SICs and could be long after.
  2. The office of SIC should give at least one reference, say, the date of appeal/complaint, for reference in the notices for hearing issued by it. It is specially important if many appeals/complaints are filed against the same Respondent by the Appellant/Complainant.
  3. The office of SIC should require the Respondent to file a written statement/submission on the points raised by the Appellant/Complainant in their appeal/complaint and send it both to the SIC and the Appellant/Complainant before the hearing. On receipt of such written statement from the Respondent, the Appellant/Complainant may like to submit another written statement/submission to the SIC under copy to the Respondent who may again respond on it. The final orders of SIC should take into account such written statements before finalizing orders on such cases. Suitable punishment on the Respondent u/s 20(1) and 19(8)(b) of the RTI Act 05 must be imposed by SIC if default is established to ensure non recurrence of such defaults in future.
  4. The office of SIC should require the Appellants/Complainants to submit only two copies (instead of 4 copies as seems to be the present practice) of the appeal/complaints to him and one copy directly to the Respondent for submitting a written statement/submission on the points raised therein. Such appeals/complaints are heard by only a single judge and hence only two copies at the most should be enough for his office.
  5. The office of SIC must give notice of its decision, including any right to appeal, to the appellant/complainant and the Respondent under section 19(9) of the Right to Information Act 2005. It is seen that this is not being complied with by SICs at present.
  6. The SIC should get the procedure for appeals finalized under section 19(10) of the Right to Information Act 2005 to bring in better systems in this regard.

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Shrawan

The suggestions of MK Singhal has been moved to "Suggestion for improvement of RTI Act and it's functionality".

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Satish Gupta

There was an editorial in Times of India by Commissioner Kejariwal. I wrote the following in response to his editorial.

 

Mr O P Kejariwal made some good points that CIC and RTI activists need to work toghether, since both are working towards the same objective, i.e. to make government more transparent to public. However cooperation does not mean capitulation. There are areas where RTI activist must cooperate with CIC and other areas where RTI activists must confront CIC.

 

Mr O P Kejariwal does not like people filing writs in High Courts against CIC. He is right that cases can be tied up in courts for years and thereby delay the implementation of RTI. However most cases have been filed by government organizations (GOs) seeking to prevent release of information. RTI activists have filed only a few cases. The purpose of cases filed by RTI activists is to open the working of the government. The purpose of cases filed by GOs is to keep the working of the GOs secret. There is a big difference between the two. I hope CIC recognizes this difference.

 

Mr. O P Kejariwal's contention that CIC is a quasi-judicial body and therefore should not be subject to appeals in High Court, is not correct. A lower court ruling can always be appealed to the higher court. The only court whose rulings cannot be appealed is the Supreme Court of India. I am sure CIC does not claim to have the same role.

 

CIC does not have the legal staff to fight cases. If CIC is a quasi-judicial body, it does not need a legal staff to fight, if its rulings are appealed in High Court. If I loose a case in lower court, I can appeal to higher court. But in no case the lower court will contest my case in higher court. Only the loosing party fights the case, not the lower court.

 

By same analogy CIC has no reason, right, or legal precedent to fight cases filed in High Court against CIC's rulings.

 

I agree that CIC should have a procedure to rehear cases. In some situations one commissioner decides one issue one way, and another commissioner decides the same issue a different way. The appellant should be given opportunity to ask the full bench of CIC to review the case. CIC in turn can make the review discretionary. So the full bench of CIC does not have to hear all the cases appealed to it. CIC can decide which cases to rehear and which ones not to.

 

CIC has to publish a compilation of its important rulings. This booklet should arrange the rulings in a subject and/or section areas. The booklet should be distributed to PIOs and AAs. I am reading the CIC decisions and I see that PIOs are refusing to give out information citing various exemptions. However CIC had already decided that those exemptions do not apply. So CIC keeps repeating the same rulings. CIC should impose penalty, in every case where PIO refuses to release information in spite of a CIC ruling to the contrary in similar case. I can see something similar for petitioner. If CIC booklet shows that the information should not be disclosed, then CIC could dispose of cases without holding a full formal hearing. :o

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narayanvarma

As to suggesion 1[s1] This function post offices are already doing.Pl.see my blog .'PRESS RELEASE' AND NUMBER 10. OF COURSE THERE IS NO CR.CARD.however payment by postal order is better than cr.card as all.specially not rich individuals can use it and there is no extra cost involved. i can send entire detailed reply i have from P.O. as to how they act as ACPIO and post applications free of cost to anywhere in INDIA. Ur. second and third S. ARE EXCELLENT. I am toying with the idea of creating C D with search engine giving section wise and subject wise all ORDERS.Actually CIC site has such search facilities but software is not very user-friendly ..SATISH GUPTA has many interesting points to respond. however i shall do so hopefully 2morow or sometime in ffew days.

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hkdubey

1. Now days most of the banks are Core Banked and as it is mandatory to publish the names of PIO, APIO in there sites it should be mandatory to publish the account number of the organisation so taht fees can be deposited by transfer or net banking or mobile banking.

2. It should be also mandatory for organisation to publish the names and how one can use RTI in News papers/ TV channels to make public aware as the insurance Co and Bank publish Ombudsman facility for customer grievances.

3.Till now we are not independent. British has left India but now days we are ruled by Indians as British were ruling us so it is duty of Government to make aware the citizens that we have aright to know what is happening in offices and there should be provision in the act to penalise the PIO, APIO Heavily, if they are neglecting in performing in their duty of giving information

3.

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narayanvarma

In reply to Mr. H. K. Dubey:

 

While I appreciate the strong desire to bring perfect atmosphere in the governance I am the person who believe that one can't expect RTI, only in second year of its existence to expect it to give 100% benefits. I also believe that penalties are not the answers to ensure results. RTI activists should think in terms of educating PIOs, motivating them and encouraging them to disclose informations. Often it is not PIOs fault but it is the set up in which he is working, the responsibilities put on him by his superiors and so on. I recomend all RTI activists to consider overall state of affairs in this country of non accountability and find and develop vaious areas to build accountability in general, RTI can be a part of it. RTI has given power to the citizens but we should not think that we become strong bosses and demand punishment to the bureaucrats. You may :( at me.

 

Narayan Varma

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colnrkurup

Dear Mr.Kushal,

I shall be thankful if you can direct me as to howto postmessagesin this cite

Col NR Kurup

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colnrkurup

One of my observations on the CIC's (Management) Regulation 2007 was that it necessitate a complainant hailing from from far away places like Kerala, Manipur or Pune visittingc IC's office many times. Prof KK Nigam, the Legal Advisor to CIC has furnished me a wonderful reply. It expose the distance of the bureaucracy from the common man and hard reality. According to Prof KK Nigam, the Regulation allow the complainant to send another man to represent him. A poor complainant's inability to attend is due to the expenses involved. He cannot afford even the second class railfare, sleep in the Delhi railway station and eat from Dhabba. If he choose to send some one else to represent, he has to pay him at least III AC railfare, hotel bill and his fees. This is as good as telling a hungry man that "if he cannot afford 'ROTTI' he may eat "PIZZA"

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ganpat1956

Dear Colonel Sir,

 

Your observations are very true. Distance and affordability prevent many appellants from attending the CIC hearings when their cases are taken up. However, there is a tele conferencing facility that has been made available through NIC and the appellant can visit the nearest NIC studio available to make use of this facility during hearings. But unfortunatley I do not know how it works in actual practice. If any of our members know more about it, please post it in the forum for the benefit of all.

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colnrkurup

Dear friends,

The PIOs are not enemies of cityzens; but part of us. They are badly cornered singularily. In many cases if the information is disclosed it is likely to expose atleat a tail-piece of corruption which give chance for further proble. The corruption might not have been done by the present PIO but his predecessors of the public authority where many of his colleagues might have been involved. He does not want to cause harm to his fellow-workers or invite wrath of the big-shots affected. This is one of the reason where one find in many a cases the AAs agree with the decisions of the PIO. If the AAs are also made liable for penalty, the PIO get someone more to share his burden and things might improve.

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Shrawan
If the AAs are also made liable for penalty

 

One very good suggestion and need some merits/de-merits to be discussed.

 

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Debashis Basu

I am in full agreement with Dr Kushal Pathak that the scope of section 20(1) of RTA ACT must be enlarged to include Appellate Authority (who hears the first appeal) under a parallel Rs 250/- per day penalty which will be a concurrent penalty with the department PIO / SPIO.

 

This will decrease the official brotherhood and hence agreement with PIO / SPIO of the department and reject/ refuse information sought under RTI ACT on one pretext or the other.

 

Proper action by Appellate Authority (who hears first appeal) will definitely reduce the load on SIC / CIC.

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bjsarawgi

It is to early to give any suggestion. The RTI act itself is a big achivement for the citizens of India. I think we should go slow and stedy as this act is difficult for the bureucats technocrats and polticians who are running the country to swallow.

 

Many cases will go to High court/supremecourt in coming future to avoid giving the information on plea or the other. The judiciary is expected to give many decision which will so the path.

 

At this moment of time it is required that forums working for promotion and awareness of RTI act should work closely and study duffrent type of cases right from the begining till the utilisation of the information received by an individual.

 

The top Ten cases are posted in the web right from application to PIO and the constraint in getting the nformation. The uses made after getting the information.

Thanks

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jps50

I Concur With Shri Varmaji. 60 Year Old Mind Frame And Systems Will Take Some Time To Change. We Must Push, Educate And Encourage Officers To Change Governance Through Rti. Things Have Started Changing As Detailed In My Blog.

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jps50

Operational Difficulties and Suggestions for RTI.

1] It is difficult to trace out designation and office address of APIO/PIO/AA for a particular information/public authority, specially if one desires to have information of a distant place from residence of the requestor or if he resides in other state. There is no commonality in designating APIO/PIO/AA in various depts. Websites are not clear on this point.

I humbly suggest that Govt should designate one APIO at Collector Office of each district for all the public authorities of state govt, as has been done by central government with Post Offices. A citizen can apply to the designated APIO at Collector Office at any district HQ, for all the information under the act pertaining to the state. Problem of address will also be solved as Collector Office is well known to public and post office.

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jps50

SUGGESTION TO AVOID LITIGATION AGAINST

RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT 2005

Of late, public authorities are frequently invoking writ jurisdiction of High Courts to avoid or delay supply of information to the public. This they do to protect vested interests, that too at the cost of public money, without any accountability. To contain such wasteful action by public authority, I suggest as under:

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colnrkurup

My suggestions are far too many. I shall come to it later. However following are the main aspects:

  1. Change the attitude. Presently only the RTI Act is citizen-friendly and not the CIC/SICs/AAs/PIOs and PAs
  2. Amend the Act to make the AAs also liable for penalty, SICs and CIC accountable
  3. Introduce a uniform Rules for payment of fees applicable to CIC and SICs of all states
  4. Form a Central Agency to supervise the functions of CIC and SICs specifically who should have the power to examine Third Appeal in exceptional and specific laid down aspects and even complaints against SICs and CICs. This Agency to be introduced in Section 17 of the RTi Act before impeaching anIC. All recommendations ofSICs and CICs seeking their terms and conditions of service, higher status etc should be made to route through this Agency insead of deciding themselves when even even the CIc has no jurisdiction over SIC. In any case the CIC and SICs cannot be allowed to continue with their presnet unaccountable style of functioning .
  5. Formulate aStandard Operating Procedure within the ambit ofRTI Act forCIC and SICs
  6. Curb the tendency of CIC from issuing arbitrary unlawful orders like CIC (Management) Regulation 20077. The CIC/SICs are not being court, stop them from acting/following the procedures in CPC except that specifically assigned to them under the Act. If this fact is understood, there is no need for summoning the Appellant/Complainant for hearing. The question of ex-partee does not come in the scene. Of course the laws of this country necessitate that before awarding punishment to a party that party should be given an opportunity for being heard. Hence only in case it is envisaged to impose penalty to PIO,he is to be called. There is absolutely no need to call the Appellant/Complainant for hearing. If a uniform SOP is followed viz., Registration, issue of Number, senting the appeal to AA and PIO calling for comments of AA and PIO, forwarding its copy to complainant calling for Rejoinder and if needs be encourage a Notes of Arguments with orders No new facts should be allowed to be brought in by any party after submission of comments and rejoinder for appeals as prevalent in courts.
  7. The CIC and SIC should have a system of accepting feed back/suggestion and communicating its outcome The list is too long. I shall come to it little later after seeing the posting from others.

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rlsaravanan

In the recent conference of sic's they have demanded power to issue arrest warrants against of those PIOs who dont turn up for their summons. first let the sics show their efficiency in disposing the cases with their power under civil procedure code. as far as tamil nadu is concerned the staffs of the sic are mostly ex-servicemen who have less acquiatance over civil work which creates lot of confusions. As courts have registry support SICs should also be given a proper support.

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colnrkurup

Dear Mr.rlsaravanan,

I had never heard of our patriotic government ever bothering about Ex-servicemen so far. Deviating from the main issue I seek from you where the Retired defence officers are employed in the TNSIC. Is any of the ICs are Retired defence service Officers ? I find it difficult to believe that a Retired defence Service Officer (not promotee but selected type) is less capable than any of the IAS officers in general. Can you give me litle more details like the Army/Navy/Air Force rank of the officer appointed as an IC there ? I am very curious

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colnrkurup

Or he maybe referringto the gate watchers, security-staff or clerks who are not accountable in non-implementation of RTI Act efectively. I just to wish to know whether any retired service officers are employed in any accountable position in TN SIC ?

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