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Dispose of RTI queries in 60 days: Gandhi

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As reported by TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 14 August 2009:

Dispose of RTI queries in 60 days: Gandhi - Mumbai - City - NEWS - The Times of India

 

Dispose of RTI queries in 60 days: Gandhi

 

 

MUMBAI: Central information commissioner ShaileshGandhi has given a new `mantra' to his counterparts across the country for speedy disposal of applications filed under the Right to Information Act.

 

Before drafting a comprehensive action plan for his colleagues, Gandhi has ensured that he himself disposes of the maximum number of cases and that too, in a time-bound period. "I settle most of the cases within 60 days of filing. My monthly average disposal rate is 535. I feel that it's not difficult to achieve the target,'' Gandhi said in a letter to Maharashtra chief information commissioner Suresh Joshi.

 

Taking cognisance of Gandhi's advice, Joshi has convened a special meeting on August 28 of all five information commissioners to draft a new strategy to clear all 15,000-odd pending applications.

 

Gandhi pointed out that it was the responsibility of the information commissioners to provide information in a specific period or else, the very purpose of the landmark legislation will be defeated. In his action plan, Gandhi has said the application should be disposed of in 60 days since receipt of the RTI query.

 

Maharashtra was the first state to enact the RTI Act in October 2005 following a sustained agitation by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. However, the Democratic Front government did not concede to his major demand that retired babus should not be appointed as information commissioners.

 

Currently, barring Pune information commissioner Vijay Kuvalekar, a veteran journalist, and Amravati commissioner Bhaskar Patil, a lawyer by profession, all commissioners are retired secretaries. Suresh Joshi was MMRDA commissioner before his appointment, while Ramanand Tiwari, Mumbai commissioner, Navin Kumar, Konkan commissioner, retired as additional chief secretary. Nagpur commissioner Vilas Patil was secretary, Maharashtra legislature secretariat and Aurangabad commissioner Vijay Borge was PWD secretary before his appointment.

 

With regard to pending cases, Kuvalekar felt that there was an urgent need to draft appeal rules. "Most states have drafted comprehensive appeal rules. As a result, in these states, there is speedy disposal of cases,'' Kuvalekar said.

 

Elaborating, Kuvalekar said Karnataka has formulated new appeal rules, which provide that in one application, the applicant will be permitted to seek information on one issue. In Maharashtra, applicants are asking for such information that the department will require at least three months to compile. "In one case, an applicant has asked for information on 720 schools in Pune region. I don't think that such kind of information can be provided within the stipulated period of 60 days,'' Kuvalekar said.

 

He said that instead of the number of cases disposed, more attention should be paid on quality of the orders. "Quick disposal of cases is important, but at the same time, we should ensure that justice is done to the applicant,'' he said.

 

Another information commissioner said, there should be restriction on the number of applications a person can file. In Nagpur, an applicant has filed 300 applications over a period of time, while in Sangli, an applicant has filed 225 appeals in three months.

 

A senior official said, since the enactment of RTI, 24,292 cases were disposed of, while 14,794 cases were pending before different commissioners.

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Atul Patankar
Gandhi pointed out that it was the responsibility of the information commissioners to provide information in a specific period or else, the very purpose of the landmark legislation will be defeated. In his action plan, Gandhi has said the application should be disposed of in 60 days since receipt of the RTI query.

 

Typical case of misreporting?

 

I believe what Mr. Gandhi was saying that an appeal with information commission at both state and central level should be disposed off in 60 days.

 

I don't think that such kind of information can be provided within the stipulated period of 60 days,'' Kuvalekar said.

 

Again, I hope, Mr. Kuvalekar said 30 days, and the reported just got confused.

 

Another information commissioner said, there should be restriction on the number of applications a person can file. In Nagpur, an applicant has filed 300 applications over a period of time, while in Sangli, an applicant has filed 225 appeals in three months.

 

When the news mentions every one else by name, why not this gentleman?

 

This is typical 'RTI has more misuse than use' news, and though Mr. Gandhi seems to be misquoted, his 'advice' and resultant proposed meeting of the information commissioners looks too pat. The reporter could contact every single commissioner for his comments! Will not be surprised if this were a 'planted' news. Activists will do well to watch the outcome of this meeting.

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karira

Reproducing an email received from IC Shailesh Gandhi on this subject of pendencies and quick disposal and attaching the report of the working of his office

 

As an Information Commissioner charged with ensuring the implementation of the Right to Information Act, I have been very conscious of the fact that one of the main purposes of the Act is to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. For an Act which has been around for less than four years, some Commissions have case pendencies of over 6 to 12 months. If this continues, the RTI Act will fail the Indian Nation. I believe all statutory authorities have to deliver to the Nation, and given the fact that the RTI Act limits the number of Commissioners to 11, unless some steps are taken now, the Act will fail to deliver. The RTI Act has a significant role for taking India from an elective democracy to a participatory democracy- and if the Information Commissions do not deliver, this will be a historical failure for which the Information Commissioners will be responsible.

For an effective Right to Information regime, Information Commissions must settle cases in less than 60 days. Most of our judicial and quasi-judicial authorities have not delivered the promise of good governance to the people of India because they have not followed the belief that time is an important part of their performance. Remove the discipline of delivering in reasonable time, and you have an unaccountable and corrupt governance structure.

With this simple belief I have tried some ways of delivering my responsibility as an Information Commissioner and have been able to ensure that over 90% of the cases are settled in less than 60 days. I wanted to share this report on the working of my office with you in the hope that you might find something useful in this. We need to find a way of ensuring that together we deliver to the Indian Nation on the Right to Information. Anything less, and the Commissioners individually carry the blame of failing the Citizens of this Country.

The report is of 7812 words and the Annexures are given in a separate file.

 

 

 

 

--

Love

shailesh

All my emails are in Public domain.

Mera Bharat Mahaan..

Nahi Hai,

Per Yeh Dosh Mera Hai.

Report on Workpractices at an Information Commission.pdf

Part 2-Annexures to reportI.pdf

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prasad.dhirendra

I hope,expect and trust theme given by sri shailesh Gandhi the dynamic information comissioner of india may ignite the information comission of Jharkhand. God save jharkhand so far R.T.I. is concerned

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