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Maharashtra quietly amends its RTI Rules


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karira

As reported by Ashutosh Shukla in dnaindia.com on 06 August 2012:

Repeal RTI amendments: Aruna Roy to Prithviraj Chavan - Mumbai - DNA

 

Repeal RTI amendments: Aruna Roy to Prithviraj Chavan

 

 

Opposition to amendments in the Right to Information (RTI) rules in the state seems to have started all over again. RTI activist and National Advisory Council (NAC) member, Aruna Roy has written to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to repeal the amendments.

The state government in January had come out with three amendments, of which applications being limited to a single subject and applications not being more than 150 words impacted the RTI movement in a big way. The third was not allowing applicants to carry anything else other than a pencil while inspecting documents.

In her letter dated July 17, Roy states that the amendments itself are contrary to the RTI Act framed by the Parliament. Citing section 6 (3) (ii), she elaborates in the letter, “The subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, the public authority to which such application is made, shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer.”

This, she says, clearly states that the Act allows an application to contain multiple subjects. She further adds that while deciding on the Act, it was considered that “defining of what constitutes a single subject matter is subjective and can potentially lead to arbitrary interpretations.”

Roy further points out the contradiction by Chavan on the amendment issue. As the central minister of department of personnel and training, Chavan had himself struck down the proposal of limiting RTI applications to 500 words. “Even these (500 words) could have been considered by the Maharashtra government. However, in spite of repeated letters and protests from the civil society, they are ratified and are in force,” the letter states.

“We will now be starting the agitations against the amendments all over again. We have already given a letter to the CM’s personal secretary, AK Jain. He has assured that he will look into the matter and will have discussions on it,” said Bhaskar Prabhu of Mahiti Adhikar Manch, who submitted the letter to Jain.

 

Jain was not reachable for his comments.

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Yogi M. P. Singh

According to subsection 1 of section 27 of R.T.I. Act 2005, The appropriate Government may , by notification in the official gazette, make rules to carry out the provisions of this act. Its subsection 2 states that in particular , and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power ,such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely--a- b- c- d- e- f- . Here it is obvious that state Government has power to make the rules but without prejudice to generality of foregoing power. Here Government of Maharastra is making mockery of provisions of transparency act because its senior bureaucrats , ministers and chief minister itself were exposed with the help of this tool. R.T.I. ACT 2005 HAS been brought up our law makers to enhance transparency and accountability in the working of public authority.

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akhilesh yadav

Govt justifies amendment to RTI Act in HC in response to PIL

 

Reported by PTI in dnaindia.com on 09 August 2012

Govt justifies amendment to RTI Act in HC in response to PIL - Mumbai - DNA

 

The Maharashtra Government today contended before the Bombay High Court that a recent amendment in the Right to Information Act, which restricts the contents of RTI application to 150 words and one subject only, had been introduced to streamline the procedure and did not in any way infringe on the fundamental rights of citizens.

The impugned amendment was not issued to curtail freedom of express or to cause unwarranted harassment to citizens seeking information as the petition has alleged, Joint Secretary, General Administration Department Rashid Gafoor Sayyed, said in an affidavit.

The affidavit was filed in response to a petition filed by Shivaji Kshirsagar who challenged the amendment in RTI Act through a notification on January 16 which imposed restriction over the words and subject of the application.

The amendment said if the applicant desired to seek information on more than one subject he should make separate applications for each subject.

Taking the affidavit on record, a bench headed by Justice D D Sinha asked the petitioner to file a rejoinder by September 7.

The petitioner prayed for setting aside the amendment, saying it provides weapons to the public information officers to reject the application.

According to the petition, the impugned notification is against the objectives of the RTI act, principle of natural justice and violates fundamental rights. It is inconsistent with the parent act, unconstitutional and against the law.

The government affirmed in affidavit that it had been observed that mostly applications filed under RTI Act suffered from unwarranted complications. Instead of seeking information on one topic, most of these applications sought information pertaining to various departments and divisions of the State. In such cases, the public information officer is unable to collect information from various departments in 30 days.

Therefore, it was thought fit to ensure that information on a particular subject should be sought from that concerned department instead of clubbing it together with a related topic, the affidavit said.

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akhilesh yadav

Maharashtra citizens file most RTI queries

As reported by Mohan K Korappath in hindustantimes.com on August 10,2012

Maharashtra citizens file most RTI queries - Hindustan Times

Our information-hungry state witnesses the highest number of Right to Information (RTI) queries from citizens. The state government, in an affidavit filed before the Bombay high court, revealed that Maharashtra receives the highest number of applications under the RTI Act. The affidavit was filed in response to a public interest litigation challenging a recent insertion of a rule under the Act, which limits the size of queries filed under the act.

 

The petition, filed by advocate Shivaji Kshirsagar, challenges the insertion of rule 3A, through a notification of January 16, 2012, under the Maharashtra Right to Information Rules. The rule says a person seeking information under the Act shall limit it to one subject matter, which shall not ‘ordinarily’ exceed 150 words. If the applicant seeks information on more than one subject, s/he has to file separate applications.

The rule further directs the public information officer (PIO) to deal with only the first subject matter, in the event of queries on multiple subjects. The petitioner argued that such a rule would deprive citizens. A division bench of justice DD Sinha and justice VK Tahilramani had asked the government to explain the reasoning behind the rule.

The affidavit, filed by the joint secretary of the General Administration Department, Rashid Sayyed, said the amendment was made to streamline the procedure for seeking information. Sayyed said a plain reading of the amendment shows that there is no imposition on the word limit, and only implies that the application should be precise.

The petition also contends that the amendment would cause harassment to citizens, as it gives the PIO discretionary powers that could be used to deny information. The affidavit said the amendment was made to facilitate the procedure, and not to harass citizens.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Maharashtra State Govt. file affidavit on 15-07-2012 in Hon'ble Bombay High court, whereat vide para 8 it is stated that "There is No prohibition on more then 150 words in RTI-application" Pls, see attachment is copy of said Affidavit. I got it through Email from another RTI-Activist.

Affidavit by govt. of maha about no limit upto 150 words in RTI.pdf

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by R S Agrawal from Nagpur in Lawetalnews.com on 28 August 2012

Law et al. News : Notice on plea against amending right to information rules

 

The High Court bench here has issued notice in a writ petition challenging addition of Rule 3-A after the Rule 3 of the Maharashtra Right to Information (Amendment) Rules, 2012. The amendment makes it mandatory for a person seeking information under the RTI Act to limit query to only one subject matter. The case will now be taken up on September 17.

 

Advocate Shrikant J. Khandalkar appeared for the petitioner.

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