Jump to content

Seeking information under RTI a tough task for NRIs

Recommended Posts

  • Super Moderator

As reported by Manoj Mitta of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 12 July 2008:

Seeking information under RTI a tough task for NRIs-Indians Abroad-The Times of India


Seeking information under RTI a tough task for NRIs


NEW DELHI: It had first claimed that Indian missions abroad did not come at all under the purview of RTI. And now, making access more difficult for NRIs, the Indian embassy in US has been refusing to entertain RTI applications that did not pertain to information held by it.


This is despite an express provision, section 6(3) of the RTI Act, stating that if the subject matter of an application addressed to one public authority actually relates to another, then the former has to transfer it to the latter within five days.


The mission in Washington admitted under RTI about a month ago that in 31 of the 45 queries received till then, the NRIs had been "advised to send their applications directly" to the public authorities based in India.


The queries sought information on diverse public interest issues such as Narmada project, Nandigram, Dow Chemicals and Bhopal gas tragedy.


Though section 6(3) contains no such condition, the embassy announced on its website that NRIs could send their applications to it "only when the subject matter can reasonably be presumed to pertain to the embassy."


Disclaiming its statutory obligation to transfer such queries, the embassy said it would not entertain applications where "the information required obviously does not pertain to the embassy."


When one of the NRIs asked it under RTI to disclose the file notings that led to the website statement, all that the embassy said was, "The information contained in the website was created by the public information officer (PIO) with the approval of the government of India."


On the application filed by NRI Vishal Kudchadkar, the embassy also declined to provide the list of cases in which the applicants had been told to send their application directly to the public authorities in India. It said the disclosure of the list would violate the applicant's "privacy."


The ground cited by the embassy for withholding information on the applicants flies in the face of the transparency maintained by the independent appellate body in New Delhi, Central Information Commission (CIC), which lists all its decisions on its website along with the names and addresses of the applicants.


But NRIs are aggrieved with the conduct of CIC too. For, despite repeated reminders, the complaints sent by them to CIC all the way from US have not even been acknowledged, let alone being listed for hearing. Though Preeti Sampat, for instance, filed her complaint against the embassy way back on February 17, CIC has so far not sent any acknowledgement of it.


Sampat's complaint is gathering dust although it brings out more evidence of the embassy's cavalier approach to RTI.


On an application related to the Narmada project, the embassy's PIO first replied that the information was not available with it.


When the applicant raised the section 6(3) argument in his first appeal, it was again the PIO who responded (instead of the designated appellate authority in the embassy) and he said that the transfer provision was not applicable since "an explicit request to do so" had not been made in the RTI application.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Super Moderator
  • Tell a friend

    Love RTI INDIA- Online RTI? Tell a friend!
  • Members

    No members to show

  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
    • Total Posts
  • Recently Browsing

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy