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narayanan
07-03-2009, 01:25 PM
Dear friends,

The Right to Information Act is a path-breaking legislation which signals the march from darkness of secrecy to dawn of transparency. It lights up the mindset of public authorities, which is clouded by suspicion and secrecy. Openness in the exercise of public power – Executive, Legislative or Judiciary – is a culture, which needs to be nurtured, with privacy and confidentiality being an exception. The right to information will also be a powerful means for fighting corruption. The effective implementation of the Right to Information Act will create an environment of vigilance which will help promote functioning of a more participatory democracy. James Madison once said, “A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with power that knowledge gives”. In India, the Official Secrets Act, 1923 was a convenient smokescreen to deny members of the public access to information. Public functioning has traditionally been shrouded in
secrecy. But in a democracy in which people govern themselves, it is necessary to have more openness. In the maturing of our democracy, right to information is a major step forward; it enables citizens to participate
fully in the decision-making process that affects their lives so profoundly.

It is in this context that the address of the Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha is significant. He said
“I would only like to see that everyone, particularly our civil servants, should see the Bill in a positive spirit; not as a draconian law for paralyzing Government, but as an instrument for improving Government - citizen interface resulting in a friendly, caring and effective Government functioning for the good of our people”. He further said, “ This is an innovative Bill, where there will be scope to review its functioning as we gain experience. Therefore, this is a piece of legislation, whose working will be kept
under constant reviews.”(extract from 1st report of second Administrative Reforms Commission)

We have to examine how far we can take help of RTI Act to clear the anomalies and injustice, if any, occured in implementation of 6CPC recomendations. We, being public servants, have to take care to ask only the required information. Let us have a discussion on the subject.

With regards,

Narayanan

REX88
08-03-2009, 02:01 AM
Aye Aye, Sir, though I may have been on the wrong end of the stick. BTW, IMHSE, 99% of the RTI queries[that i have been handling] are being raised by the inmates! [of course thro' proxys] or ex-inmates, only. The remaining 1% are litigants with the Depts. Even though it is viewed by the information havers as a nuisance, there is a marked caution these days when recording any observation in any file. It is another matter that nobody these days take any definitive action that might really happen in any jeopardy. as an aside, when there are tons and tons of paper work [ I mean information] produced daily, it is queer that the information seekers ask for details that is nowhere available. like reasons for doing this , or otherwise. Then we have to go through the motion of poring over the numerous decisions of CIC to prepare a four paged OinO to say NA. [Not askable!] I guess we are not far from the days when the reasons for seeking the information under RTI is required to be made in the application itself. take this case for example. A person made an application to PMO, enclosing attachments for 30 pages, raising irregularities in tax collection, smuggling, etc., The same was transferred to many ministries, and each ministry in turn transferred the same to all the field formations, which are in 100 in nos for each ministry. the photocopy of the enclosures were not legible and hence all the field formations wrote a letter to their higher offices who inturn wrote to their higher offices. a higher office boldly wrote to the applicant directly informing that the papers are not legible but got the letter returned with the comment, "No such Addressee"/"Addressee Left". I wonder who harasses whom? There shall be a RTI query as to what is the average cost for the Depts.,[including officer's time, postage] for each query made with a fee of Rs.10/-? I am sure the same will also go through the above cycle!
[IMHSE - In my humble small experience]
-reg, REX

narayanan
11-03-2009, 08:12 AM
Dear friends,

The experience is the best teacher. See what Shri Rex88 experienced while attending the RTI quieries. I wonder, how one can give reply if some ask the an information ie, name and address of all person living in India. Can you give?

In my view, a query under RTI is more powerful than Parliament questions. Our system should evolve a mechanism to give any information within the prescribed time.

Pythagoras quoted:

The oldest, shortest words - yes and no - are those which requires the most thought

When the thought is less (both by the quiriest and the department), the photocopier should work more. Since the implementation RTI Act is at infant stage now, more parenting is required.

However, one positive aspect is, the quiries are attended immediately and given importance.

With regards,

Narayanan

badri mannargudi
11-03-2009, 10:27 AM
Dear friends,

The experience is the best teacher. See what Shri Rex88 experienced while attending the RTI quieries. I wonder, how one can give reply if some ask the an information ie, name and address of all person living in India. Can you give?

In my view, a query under RTI is more powerful than Parliament questions. Our system should evolve a mechanism to give any information within the prescribed time.

Pythagoras quoted:

The oldest, shortest words - yes and no - are those which requires the most thought

When the thought is less (both by the quiriest and the department), the photocopier should work more. Since the implementation RTI Act is at infant stage now, more parenting is required.

However, one positive aspect is, the quiries are attended immediately and given importance.

With regards,

Narayanan


[II I wonder, how one can give reply if some ask the an information ie, name and address of all person living in India.[/I]
About a year ago a person sought information under RTI Act, from Department of Posts, "Name and address of Factories in India, the products manufactured by them, their address, telephone number, etc., and the Department of Posts forwarded the query to our department (Customs and Central Excise Department). CBEC, sought the information from C.Cs and ultimately the divisional AC/DC sent the letter down to Range Officers and the Range Offcers passed on the buck to the poor Inspectors.
(In my Range, I sent reply to JAC stating that the information called for was available with JAC himself since he was the Registration Authority. The JAC, asked me (of course, orally) to give the information sought. After two days we sent the information).

One can imagine the time required for collecting this data, and God knows for what purpose the information was sought.

May be, the person was intending to bring out his own "Yellow Pages" for the whole country, by spending a fortune (Rs.10 plus postage )!

With regards,
Badri

narayanan
17-03-2009, 08:16 AM
Dear friends,

In a recent reasoned order the Information Commissioner held that,

the details asked for is not an information which is centrally maintained and collecting it from over 100 offices spread all over the country could be a herculean task. In my judgement, therefore, this matter attracts Section 7(9) of the RTI Act. There can be no obligation cast on the respondents to disclose this information.

Please see the order in the attachment

With regards,

Narayanan

vnatarajan
30-03-2009, 08:41 PM
Dear Mr Narayanan and all,

WE, the Pensioners, had been using the RTI route for arriving at some facts- (as no clarifications/ explanations/ reasons etc can be solicited) and you can see many/ almost all of them- with answers recieved - either in the posts in a parallel thread title "what next -RTI?" started by Sundarar-or/ also in the website of "RREWA".

The cardinal principles-transparency/ accountability/ responsibility appear to be totally invisible in the responses.

The juniormost in the heirarchy is made the CPIO- which hides the higher-ups from exposure - to the extent situation permits/ till the time questioner gets frustrated/ and may be if the questioner is perseverent, he may go for Appeal.

Answers are made out within the "publicised"'publicisable" (circulars/ OMs/gazette etc) papers so that anything beyond that is not ansewered.

(for the above observation- I dont blame the concerned-because I as a very senior officer who handled the subject of answering Parl. Qns for nearly 5 years (say upto average 150 qns each year - 25% being starred) worked out my own strategy of confining to Published/ Documented info only for technical qns- and most of the info reg. the data under processing used to be given with caution in the supplementaries).

Apparently, the concerned officers (as we are making out at the Sub-ordinate Dept. levels) are not yet trained to answer RTI queries properly.

Evasion to respond to the issue in a challenging manner, is very clear!

For example, if the query is - "What Rules are applied to fixing the Revised Pension of the pre-2006 pensioners?"

Answer shd have been: simply "No Rules"!!!

Instead answered to convey it is being based on "Govt. decisions which are based on SCPCs Recommendations and the OMs.... etc".

Every pre-2006 Pensioner is aware of the above facts already!. Question is aimed at establishing that NO RULE HAS BEEN FOLLOWED!

Irony is from the very next day (2.9.2008), RULE is being followed for other pensioners - even retrospectively for some!

Therefore, faith to be reposed in a Babudom dominated administrative system in this RTI domain will be a grey area till more BELIEVABLE responses emerge as RTI answers!

Regards

vnatarajan