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As reported by Ajay Khape in expressindia.com on 08 April 2008: RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe - ExpressIndia.Com RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe Pune, April 07 If the Right to Information (RTI) Act empowered citizens by providing a weapon to keep a check on the administration and bring in transparency in Government functioning, the flip side is the misuse of the Act. An individual has been identified seeking information under the RTI for commercial use and Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) has asked for a report in the 73 cases filed by him on behalf of different applicants. â€œThe possible misuse of the RTI Act came to light on a report submitted by tehslidar of Haveli taluka and Appeal Authority for Haveli taluka. It was revealed that 73 applicants with different names had filed appeal with the commission and handwriting in the applications also matched,â€ Chief Information Commissioner (Pune division) Vijay Kuvalekar said. Doubts emerged after the Appeal Authority for Haveli taluka submitted during a hearing that an application has been filed with the common address not by the applicant, but a person, M N Patil, on behalf of the applicant, Kuvalekar said. The CIC directed the tehsildar Sanjeev Deshmukh to send notices to all the 73 applicants on the given address while requesting them to appear in person for the hearing and submit a detailed report. Deshmukh said he was receiving a lot of RTI appeals from the same address â€” in the name of various applicants, and that none of them appeared for the hearings. As per CICâ€™s directions, Deshmukh said he served notice on the applicants on the common address. Only two of the 73 applicants replied. It was revealed that Patil offered services like providing documents related to 7-by-12 extract to the applicant for cash and took signatures of clients on blank paper. The signed papers have been converted into RTI applications by Patil without the knowledge of his clients. Deshmukh said the documents, information sought through RTI Act is given to the client and if they are incomplete, then an appeal is filed. The inquiry further revealed that Patil was involved in a similar activity in Mulshi taluka. The appeal authority and tehsildar of Mulshi Avinash Shinde said, â€œWe were fed up with the number of applications coming in from a common address seeking various information.â€ Suspecting foul play, Shinde asked the police to investigate the cases by verifying the identity of the applicants on the given address. The police have submitted a report that none of the applicants reside in the given address and a person named, M N Patil, is using the property. He has admitted to filing the RTI applications on behalf of various persons, he said. The CIC has expressed concern over the entire matter. â€œThe commission is taking a serious note of it as the matter was serious and objectionable since it would encourage misuse of RTI Act,â€ Kuvalekar said.
Public authorities are usually at the receiving end of the Central Information Commission. But the tables were turned recently, when in two cases under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, CIC reprimanded information seekers for 'harassing' public authorities. In both the cases, the information seekers or applicants were disgruntled former employees. In the first case, Hyderabad's K Gopinath had applied to All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Technology University for diverse information. When the case reached CIC, the Commission found that most of the information has been given to the applicant. CIC noted that in a period of 3-4 months, Gopinath had put in as many as 67 applications to JNTU, where he had worked and from where he was subsequently dismissed. "In the present case, the applicant who had been dismissed by the organisation on disciplinary grounds four months back, has since then flooded different organisations with RTI applications asking for diverse pieces of information," the Commission said. It also observed that the three organisations had done their best to satisfy Gopinath. "The applicant as a citizen of India has every right to resort to the RTI Act and ask for any and every information subject to the limitation prescribed by the Act...The Commission would like to appeal to such applicants to desist from using the RTI Act in a manner that would amount to harassment of public authorities without fulfiling the basic objectives of the Act," the Commission observed. In a similar case, a Rajasthan resident Faqir Chand had filed two applications with North Western Railway (NWR), Jaipur, and despite receiving the information approached CIC. On questioning, Chand admitted that he had been 'harassed' by NWR while in service. Chand, who has since retired, decided to harass NWR by asking extensive information under the RTI Act. The application was disposed off after the Commission made it known that the Act was not an instrument to "settle scores". Source: CIC asks applicants not to misuse RTI Act-India-NEWS-The Times of India