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  1. Once the RTI application is filed the records available with CPIO/respondent authority, cannot be destroyed as per the retention and removal schedule.- CIC CIC recorded that the PIO of Department of Posts without application of mind denied the information on points under section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act. The appellant had sought the copy of all cameras (CCTV) video recording of head post office Bhavnagar. Since video recording is covered under information as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act. If the CCTV footage is held by the respondent authority, it is his duty to share it, except when the denial is justified under any provisions of exemptions mentioned in Section 8 of the RTI Act. Once the RTI application is filed the records available with CPIO/respondent authority, cannot be destroyed as per the retention and removal schedule. In this case, the CPIO denied the information under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act, which means they have the CCTV footage with them. Therefore, commission recorded that the respondent authority is directed to provide CD with required CCTV footage and the information sought by the appellant.
  2. In a Central Information Commission hearing it was advised to Railways Recruitment Board advised not to destroy examination copy during the pendency of a RTI appeal. It was advised by CIC to Change their record retention policy so that a marksheet which is under consideration in an appeal under RTI Act is not destroyed. It was also advised to put on Railway website basic details about every examination after the results are declared e.g. copy of question paper, key answersheet, cut off marks etc. The RTI Applicant has south information on the total marks obtained, copies of question paper and key answersheet, copy of OMR answer sheet and cutoff marks merit of General, OBC & SC/ST categories in the above examination. Railways Recruitment Board advised not to destroy examination copy It was stated by the Railways that a policy decision have taken in the Ministry of Railway that the records pertaining to any examination should be destroyed after one year. Accordingly, in this case, the records have been destroyed and the information in the instant RTI application cannot be provided to the appellant now. CIC came heavily on CPIO and stated that The first appellate authority did not perform his duties as prescribed in the RTI Act. It was noted that CPIO has not furnished all the required information and by now the records have been destroyed. The decision can be read from here!
  3. Does a formal order of Record Retention Schedule an eye wash for RTI applicant? The Record Retention Schedule brought out by DAPRG also available at our Download segment here was a welcome move. It was expected that it shall become boon for Right to Information by prescribing an authentic record retention schedule. However, if you see the modus operandi by which organisations who are hell-bent in not providing information operates, it shall throw some light. Once the Government has decided not to give a set of information to RTI applicant, he would usually resorts to either delaying by passing over to other officer or providing sketchy information. An applicant shall never be able to understand when A was asked why B was given. Most of the times you shall keep quite. But if you go for appeal, First Appellate Authority (FAA) shall ensure that you are made to believe that PIO was right in providing information about B instead of A. It's rare occasion that you shall reach up to Second appeal with CIC you might get some help. But even with CIC hearings, if the information is pressed upon, the PIO feign ignorance and claims that records are missing. But they have realised that CIC shall pound upon them and insist in filing FIR for missing file. So if you see the latest decisions, the PIO never claims that the records are lost, but that they require more time to search. Even if the FIR is lodged, when has police came to office of any Central Government to do the search? I guess the answer is 'Never'. There is a procedure prescribed in Manual of Office Procedure by which search warrant can be issued within the organisation. But when have we heard that it has ever been issued and put to use? This is the blog post copied from our blogging segment here! RTI for Record Retention Schedule Now let's see how RRS can help PIO to further deny you the information. Firstly, during Pre RRS days there was no set procedure by which the records were preserved or distorted and in each ministries records pertaining to years beyond the retention years used to be available. Though each ministries and departments do have Record Retention schedule, it was and is rarely followed. Secondly, weeding out exercise in Government Ministries is itself a mammoth exercise, and usually it is not attempted. Primarily because Records are not stored year wise and secondly many a times the record is required for various court cases. Thirdly, each ministry has departments and divisions which are the custodian of the records and maintains them. Once the record passes the RRS timelines, each division should forward the old records to Administration Division for weeding out. You shall rarely find that section of each division diligently clears the records as prescribed in the RRS ever. Therefore, there was no set methods by which records beyond the retention period used to be preserved and processed. But with the availability of RRS, it is very easy for any Government to claim that records are not available because of it being outside the RRS. The PIO simply need to pick up the Record Retention schedule and find the relevant records year and easily claim that the records fall outside the record rendition schedule even without seeing if the records are available or not. In most cases, I suspect that the records might be still available. Take for example the evaluated answer sheet or various organisations like UPSC etc. Do you ever think that UPSC shall be doing a diligent weeding out of records every year? Some of the records retention are in odd months like 18 months 30 months etc. So do you think Government organisations are doing weeding out of old records every quarter? In most probability your information is still buried not in Kabariwala shop but within the Government Almirah. Even if Central Information Commission directs the PIO to give the certificate that the records are not available, with the backing of RRS, PIO can very easily give the certificate even though the records are indeed available but they have a backing of RRS. In my view, once the records are digitized they shall not be subjected to Record Retention schedule.The Indian government approved NeGP in May 2006 as recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission. NeGP is administered through the Department of Information Technology of the Indian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. The goals of the eGovernance plan are to increase the efficiency of service delivery, empower citizens by providing information, and create an environment of transparency. The eGovernance plan aims to make the government more accessible to citizens and businesses alike and foster a more open atmosphere. NeGP comprises 27 mission mode projects (MMP), which are further classified as state, central or integrated projects. Within NeGP, "mission mode" implies that projects have clearly defined objectives, scopes, and implementation timelines and milestones, as well as measurable outcomes and service levels. One such project is 'eOffice'. It is aimed to conduct the office procedures electronically for a simplified, responsive, effective and transparent working in all government offices. According to NIC eOffice website following are the Project outcome: Establishing a paperless environment in government offices Transforming the existing manual, paper-driven processes into electronic workflow Standardise on a Single product across the Government Establish a Single Authoritative Government Directory Develop on an Open Architecture Framework for scalability Further as per the RTI Act 2005 Para 4 (1): 4. (1) Every public authority shall— a) maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act and ensure that all records that are appropriate to be computerised are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerised and connected through a network all over the country on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated; If we as citizens push for implementation of eOffice project, there shall be no eyewash in the name of Record Retention Schedule. Your views please?
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