By M.V.Ruparelia via email: This is the extract of the correspondence sent to Shri V. Narayanasamy, Hon Minister of State, Ministry of Personnel, P.G. & Pension, with a request for Up-dation of Central Information Commission (Appeal Procedure), 2012- GSR 603(E) dt 31-7-12 & other important Procedure Orders.
We are very much thankful to Ministry of Personnel for expanding and elaborating the scope of Suo Motu Disclosures under Sec 4 of RTI Act through Secretary`s D.O. no.1/6/2011-IR dt 15-4-13 & 21-11-13. We are also grateful for up-dating Guide on RTI Act, 2005 under no. 1/32/2013-IR dt 28-11-13. We request that Right to Information Rules, 2012 notified under GSR 603 (E) dt 31-7-12 in Gazette of India may also be updated very early, as Citizens are facing various difficulties in dealing with CIC, as brought out in our representation dt 12-7-13 to you, Our Representation dt 21-5-12 to President of India and other representations dt 30-8-12, 5-9-12 etc. The difficulties caused in following respects of existing Rules, 2012 dt 31-7-12 are again brought out for early action:-
Rule 3: Application Fee: Though Fee is prescribed for Application only under sub-section (1) of Sec 6, Fee for Complaints under Sec 18 is being asked by CPIO of CIC and States. (e.g. CIC`s no.CIC/CPIO/Misc/2013/153690 dt 31-7-13). Kindly, amplify and clarify this Rule for Fee for Complaints.
Rule 6: Mode of Payment of Fee: Provision for payment of fee through nominated Post Offices under Role of Department of Post Offices as per instructions from Prime Minister are not included in this Rule. CPIO of CIC is rejecting applications sent through nominated post offices with Fee paid to Post Office. (e.g. CIC/CPIO/2011/1953 DT 2-11-11).
Rule 7:Appointment of Secretary: No duties of Secretary and other Registrars are laid down. After declaring RTI-CIC (Management Regulations), 2007 dt 13-6-07 by Court as null & void, it is necessary to incorporate such Management Regulation Rules in this.
Rule 10: Process of Appeal: 3(b): In cases of IInd Appeals, where AA has not passed orders, CIC asks AA to give orders and asks Appellant to send IInd Appeal afresh, if not satisfied with AA`s orders instead of calling AA for hearing and/or dealing with same IInd Appeal papers, resulting in unnecessary expenses to Appellants of getting 4 copies of large number of papers typed/zeroxed etc, 2 copies for CIC, 1 for CPIO & 1 for AA!
Rule 11: Procedure for deciding Appeals: In many cases, ICs do not examine papers submitted by Appellants in IInd Appeals and Rejoinders and do not give opportunity to be heard to Appellants through phone and give Speaking Orders based on information given by ACPIO/Representatives of PA during hearing. This can be verified by DOPT by simple reading of CIC`s decisions in their Web Site. Rule must be amplified to lay down that IC/CIC must discuss view points of both parties in detail in Speaking Orders invariably and give reasons for arriving at his conclusion. It must also be laid down to indicate whether rejoinder was received and examined. We have given examples of several cases in which papers were not examined in our previous representations and can give still more examples of careless dealings without keeping in view even rules of Natural Justice, if required!
Rule 12(2): Presence of Appellant: In many cases, Video Conferencing Centres are also 20-25 miles away and it is not physically possible for disabled/handicapped citizens and Senior Citizens of 75+ to go to such Centres. Many IC/CIC are permitting Phone Representation but some do not give this facility and do not record reasons in Speaking Orders for denying this. They are in hurry to close the cases!! Proper provision of giving opportunity to be heard on phone in deserving cases may please be provided. Many a times, 7 days clear notice for Hearing does not reach to the Appellant. If he speaks on phone or sends E/Mail for giving opportunity to be heard on phone, it should be recorded by Registrar on file and also mentioned in Speaking Orders, if rejected. Not only, Applications/Appeals sent by E/Mail are not dealt with without hard copy and that may be rightly but all communications through E/Mails are ignored, which is not correct.
Rule 15: Orders of the Commission: Orders are treated as final, even if completely defective and without examining view point of Appellant as given in IInd Appeal & Rejoinders and no Review Petition lies and Appellant is asked to go to High Court for reviewing incorrect and against Natural Justice Speaking Orders!! Proper Review Petitions must be provided in these Rules. No replies are given to representations to CIC for such defective Speaking Orders in terms of para 66 & 67 of Office Manual. Large number of cases can be produced before your Ministry, if required, though some are already reported.
As per Notification no.CIC/Legal/2007/006 dt 13-2-08 and minutes of meeting held by CIC on 13-12-11, it was notified for the information of general public that the Appeals and Complaints filed by senior citizens shall be taken up by the Commission on priority basis and norms & procedure for according priority to Appellants in Hearing Appeals/Complaints filed before the Commission were decided in minutes dt 13-12-11. Appeals/Complaints from senior citizens and differently abled persons were to be put up to the Bench of the Commission where such cases are registered. According to me this is not being done for last 5 years and not a single case of senior citizen is given any preference, inspite of showing by Appellants on top of each Appeal/Complaint that preference is to be given in terms of CIC orders and age is indicated and proof of age is given. I also feel that wrong information is being given by your Ministry to MPs for Parliamentary Questions that preference is being given, when there is not a single case of preference given for last 5 years and no record is maintained for this. This is serious and may be looked into for laying down proper instructions.
On cancellation of RTI-CIC (Management Regulations), 2007 by Court, it is necessary that various Rules in those Regulations are brought in these Rules, 2012. According to Rule 4(xv) of cancelled notification, Registrars were responsible to ensure compliance of decisions of IC/CIC. This responsibility is now refused by Registrars. Examples can be produced, if required. Proper provision may please be made in these Rules.
As per Rule 15-Personal Presence of Appellant, if Appellant is prevented from being heard, second opportunity is to be given before final decision is given. This is not followed. Many examples can be produced. Proper detailed provision for this may be made in these Rules.
As per Rule 23 (2)-Finality of Decision, Special Review Appeal is laid down. On cancellation of entire Regulations from legal point of view by Court, this opportunity of Review petition is denied in each case!! This is too much!! Many examples have been brought to your Ministry`s notice and still more can be produced. Proper provision may please be made in these Rules for review.
Suggestions on improvement of Right to Information Rules
As the main Aim of RTI Act is to promote transparency & accountability in the working of all Public Authority and streamlining their working, please provide proper guidelines in these Rules that CPIO & AAs will ensure that all lacunas came or brought to their notice through dealing with Applications & Appeals are set right by bringing to the notice of concerned competent authorities of their organizations. Examples:
All prescribed columns are not filled in Status Position of Letters, Appeals, Complaints etc in CIC Web Site. Date given by Citizens for their letters, appeals etc are not shown, resulting in difficulties to locate.
Appeals & Complaints are not admitted and shown in Status Position for months together.
Non-compliance cases are not chased even after 10-15 reminders.
No preference is given to Appeals & representations of Senior Citizens.
Large number of letters, appeals, complaints sent by registered posts are not recorded/shown in status Position with dates given by citizens.
We shall be grateful, if these important aspects are got examined and remedial action taken, giving reply to us in terms of Para 66-67 of Office Manual.
Opinion and Suggestion by M.V.Ruparelia
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