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Copied the following from a post in another RTI related group: Dear friends, Under Sections 18, 19 and 20 of RTI Act, the Information Commission has been empowered to receive, hear, enquire and dispose the Complaints and Second Appeals and also to impose penalty on defaulting PIOs as and where required. Needless to say, the hearing of the cases is crucial in the entire process of disposal of a case, simply for the reason that it gives an opportunity of hearing to the concerned PIO, on whom lies the burden of proof as to whether he acted diligently to provide the requested information to the applicant. It is also important because the complainant/petitioner might raise a slew of critical issues on account of which the RTI users like him were deprived of access to information sought for, and which the Commission as per Section 19(8) should address to for a better administration of RTI regime in the concerned public authority in future. But unfortunately, Odisha Information Commission has been found unilaterally disposing a large bulk of the cases without holding any hearing on them. It neither makes an enquiry nor gives anopportunity of hearing to any party to the case. It has been further noticed that while disposing the cases in the above manner, the Commission generally directs the concerned 1st Appellate Authority to dispose the case at their level and ask the concerned complainant, if necessary to approach the Commission again in the form of a complaint or second appeal, in case he or she is dissatisfied with the decision of 1st Appellate Authority. To ascertain the number of cases disposed by the Commission in the arbitrary manner as mentioned above, an RTI Application was submitted to the office of Odisha Information Commission and the information received in response thereto is as follows- Cases disposed by the Commission without hearing in 4 month period. Month of 2011 State Chief Information Commissioner Mr. Jagadanand, SIC Mr. Pramod Mohanty, SIC No. of Complaint cases disposed No. of second appeal cases disposed No. of Complaint cases disposed No. of second appeal cases disposed No. of Complaint cases disposed No. of second appeal cases disposed August 54 NIL 77 Nil 156 Nil September 63 NIL 59 Nil 123 Nil October 107 NIL 24 Nil 82 Nil November 150 NIL 160 Nil 283 Nil Total 374 NIL 320 Nil 644 Nil ( Information obtained through RTI on dt. 28.12.2011) Remarks a. From the above table it is learnt that within period of four months (August – November 2011), the Commission has unilaterally and arbitrarily disposed a total of 1338 cases. If extrapolated, the figures for the year would amount to approximately. 5352. b. When inquired about “ why the Commission adopts such arbitrary method of disposing the cases, the clarification cited by the Commission is that as a large bulk of the cases is pending in the Commission, there is no option except this procedure for disposing the cases with a view to reduce the volume of pendency. c. When enquired about the rate of compliance (providing information to the complainant), the response of the Commission was “ no such record is maintained by the Commission”. It means that the Commission is concerned about the rate of disposal of cases in its own arbitrary, but not so about the actual rate of compliance of its orders for providing the information to the deprived applicants. Therefore, the claim of the Commission in public forums that that there was compliance to the Commission’s orders to the extent of 90 % is false and deserves to be discarded. D. Let us go to other side of the story. In large number of cases ( such as for instance CC No- 4165/2011 and CC No.- 2/2011) the 1st Appellate Authorities are neither hearing nor disposing the cases. In fact, the cases unilaterally disposed by the Commission are old ones which require immediate hearing and immediate delivery of information to the complainants and penalty against the defaulter PIOs. As the Commission doesn’t enforce actual compliance in terms of delivery of information to the complainants and no penalty is imposed on erring PIOs for their failure to provide the information, the net result is widespread discontentment and anger created among the deprived citizens. In a situation where the Complainant has at long last been ditched by the Commission, he simply feels hopeless about approaching the Commission again in the manner of filing a complaint or second appeal. There is only a burning anger and frustration left in them. It has been gathered from the sources close to the complainants that huge numbers of cases disposed unilaterally by the Commission has not resulted in any delivery of information the complainants had asked for but were unduly refused. Though some complainants have filed again theprevious cases to the Commission, the latter s yet to begin deciding them. e. The above procedure adopted by the Commission has encouraged the PIOs to disregard the RTI Act altogether . They are showing a careless attitude to the RTI applications, being overconfident that there is no fear of penalty from the Commission. The Commission may feel a self-congratulatory satisfaction by dishing out the figures of reduced pendency, but in the process they have made RTI Act a casualty of their arbitrary rule. It would result in growing frustration and hopelessness among the RTI users and further boost to corruption and misfeasance across the state. Pradip Pradhan Date-7.1.2012
Reproduced from another RTI related group Low rate of hearing based disposal by the Odisha Information threatens the RTI regime in the state as a whole Dear friends, On 17.11.2011, I had submitted an RTI Application to the office of Odisha Information Commission to know about the nos. of cases heard and disposed by the Commission from January to November, 2011. The information supplied by the office of the Commission is mentioned below. Earlier, I have made an analysis of how the arbitrary, unilateral disposal of the cases by the Commission has resulted in widespread disappointment and anger among the RTI Activists in the state. Now I like to bring to your notice how the Commission has been too slow in respect of hearing of the cases and their disposal, resulting in growing pendency of unheard cases. Details of cases heard and disposed by the Commission within period Jan to Nov. 2011 Month of 2011 Odisha Chief Information Commisssioner Mr. Jagadanand, SIC Mr. Pramod Ku. Mohanty, SIC No. of Complaint and Second Appeal cases heard No. of Complaint and Second Appeal cases disposed No. of Complaint and Second Appeal cases heard No. of Complaint and Second Appeal cases disposed No. of Complaint and Second Appeal cases heard No. of Complaint and Second Appeal cases disposed 1 2 3 4 5 6 Jan to Nov.2011 ( 11 months) 1469 704 1712 849 1272 490 Analysis a. From the above table, it is learnt that Mr. Jagadanand has heard and disposed of highest number of cases in comparison to other two Commissioners. b. If we take monthly hearing and disposal of cases by each Commissioner, the finding is as follows. Name of the Commissioner Average Monthly hearing of the cases Average Monthly disposal of the cases Mr. Tarun Kanti Mishra, SCIC 133 64 Mr. Jagadanand, SIC 155 77 Mr. Pramod Mohanty, SIC 115 44 c. If we make analysis of nos. of cases heard and disposed by the Commission per day ( average 20 days is taken for hearing per month), the picture is as follows- Name of the Commissioner Average hearing of the cases per day Average disposal of the cases per day. Mr. Tarun Kanti Mishra, SCIC 6.5 3.2 Mr. Jagadanand, SIC 7.75 3.85 Mr. Pramod Mohanty, SIC 5.75 2.2 d. It shows how the Information Commissioners are hearing such minimal number of cases (5 to 7 number of cases per day). As it is seen, the Commission takes just two to three hours to hear 7 no. of cases in a day. e. As we know, the primary duty of Information Commission as per the RTI Act is to hear and dispose the cases. Anyone can notice that the daily session on the hearing of cases by the Commission gets over by 12.30 or at maximum by 1 o’clock. God knows, what the Commissioners do and how they spend rest of time every working day.. It needs to be mentioned here that to facilitate their administrative work, the Commission has engaged a total of 40 staffs in the office i.e., highest in the country. f. We also see that the Information Commissioners are seen spending a lot of time to address so-called seminar and workshops on non-RTI issues as Chief Guest or Chief speaker organized by NGOs. . g. For hearing and disposal of the cases, each Commissioner receives more than Rs. 1,50,000 towards salary per month excluding other perks. If we calculate all the expenses made for the Commissioners in a month, it will be around Rs 2 lakh per head. Thus we are paying more than Rs. 6,000/- per head per day. On calculation it is found that a Commissioner takes Rs. 2000/- for disposal of a case, which is certainly a huge amount in the country. It deserves to be mentioned here that while a Commissioner in Odisha disposes average 65 cases per month, a Central Information Commissioner does dispose 250 to 350 cases per month. A glaring difference in deed! A lethargic work habit coupled with inefficiency of the Commissioners has led to staggering rise of pendency of cases in the state. Under the circumstances squandering of a huge amount from state exchequer after the upkeep of such a Commission has proved a great burden on the people of the state. If anybody has doubt on my findings, , I welcome them to respond accordingly, and let there be a genuine discourse around it in the larger interest of the state. Pradip Pradhan
As reported at orissadiary.com on 14 June 2010 Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has recently formed a special team to study the accessibility of general public to the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The team would do survey work in 12 Blocks under six districts. According to Information Commissioner DN Padhi, the Commission would form a team taking help of Nabakrushna Choudhury Research Centre here. The blocks in which such survey work would be held include Rangeilunda and Polsara of Ganjam district, Boudh and Harabhanga of Boudh district, Rajgangpur and Sundargarh of Sundargarh district, Balangir and Khaprakhol of Balangir district, Rairangpur and Samkhunta of Mayurbhanj district and Puri sadar and Astarang of Puri district. The team would meet randomly 180 people of 12 villages of the said blocks and 60 beneficiaries who already have taken help of RTI. Similarly, in district level the team would collect information of use of such an Act from different departmental offices entertaining RTI. The team would visit the offices of health and family welfare, school and mass education, higher education, revenue, works, SC and ST, agriculture, women and child welfare and rural development departments. The team has also been asked to collect information from SP offices, NGOs getting government aid and three sub-divisional courts.