| NGOs Meet on RTI Act
It is very kind of you to have made contact to me thro Ms. Awasthi and
furnishing so much of materials in this mail, which helped me to get
enlightened of the good work being done by your organization. I
remember that there was criticism in some quarters about your method of
evaluation. But I found that they were all not genuine but prejudiced
and had sent letters fully supporting the findings of the Award
committee. Now you have convened a meet to discuss the methodology for
future evaluation of the Information Commissions and Commissioners. I
have a small difference of opinion here.
The Commissions central and State are appellate authorities and the
appeals coming to them should be minimum and a small percentage of the
total applications. but actually it is not so now. The commissions are
getting flooded with appeals. The simple reason is that as we have
experienced and also as rightly observed by you , the public
authorities are not willing to part with information whether they have
skeletons to hide or not. The Tamilnadu Information commission is
enamoured that they occupy the first place in getting the
number of appeals in the Country. The State govts. particularly
Tamilnadu is not committed to the implementation of the RTI Act for
obvious reasons which is that the Act ties up their hands from doing
things as they wish. So it is with the blessings and support of the
govt that the PIOs take strength to deny the information asked of them.
So it is not so much the Information commissions which are to be
evaluated but the Govt and its implementing dept. viz the Personnel and
administrative reforms dept (as it is christened in Tamilnadu).In some
of our meetings with the Chief Secretary and the Secretary to personnel
dept. we invariably got the impression that they were least concerned
with the RTI implementation. They have not taken adequate steps to
educate its officials, nor instituted a mechanism with the
superintendence of the district Collectors or anybody else, to assess
the performance of the PIOs of the various depts. You will find that
the Act does not specify any action imperative on the part of the
Govts. It does not say how the penalty is to be recovered on the orders
of the commission.
Therefore a study and analysis of the performance of the respective
Govts and delineation of their duties and responsibilities
making them get fully involved in the successful implementation of the
Act seems to be the need of the hour ,rather than evaluating the
Commissions and commissioners. I am not saying that the
not necessary but only indicating the preference.
Again there is no need for so many Commissioners. In my opinion the
Commission is not a judicial body not even quasi judicial. A reading of
the Act would suggest that the Commission is vested with some limited
judicial functions such as summoning witnesses and calling for
documents etc as otherwise it wouild have no teeth. Farcical scenes are
witnessed in Tamilnadu where even advocates are made to represent
clients. The scope of the act is simple. You seek information from a
PIO. he doesn't provide. You approach the first appellate authority.
You don't get relief .So you go to the Commission on second appeal. The
Commissioners have to go thru every appeal personally and pass orders
per se. If a PIO has not cared to send any reply positive or negative
the Commission has to straight away take steps to impose penalty. Then
it can examine if the information sought for is disclosable and pass
appropriate orders. As simple as that. This simple procedure is not
followed now. The commissioners do not peruse the representations. Only
hearings are fixed willy nilly and the commissioners act as judicial
officers which they are definitely NOT.
No wonder the PIOs are least bothered and the appeals keep mounting in
One point I want to mention is that the first appeal is unnecessary and
in most cases it results only in delay. The appellate authority is only
the head of office or a senior officer in the same office. This can be
done away with.
The time limit of 30days is not justified. if the PIO has the
information it requires max. of a week to provide them to the
applicant. if the Information is not available the PIO may write and
seek time to reply. So a time limit of 15 days would appear meaningful.
It is not without reason that the Award committee has debarred the TN
Information Commission from being considered for the award. Normally as
a Madrasi I should be unhappy at this turn of events. But on the
contrary I wish to agree with the decision. Plainly the Tamilnadu IC is
in the hands of an imbecile man who does not know what to do and what
he is doing. Almost all the NGOs are fed up with the Commission that we
have submitted a memorandum to the Governor seeking the removal of the
Chief Information Commissioner. The representation to the Governor is
attached for your kind information. We have sought appointment with the
Governor for a personal representation.
You have not given much details of what you propose to
discuss on the 30th and 31st and who are all likely to participate.
We have started an “Academy of Honest politics” and
conducting FREE week end courses to eligible and willing youth on
'Political leadership development' in order to mould capable
politicians for the future. My participation in the meet at Delhi is
therefore dependant on a few local factors.
However I and our Anticorruption Movement stand by all your patriotic
efforts and wish success to your endeavours.
With kind Regards and new year greetings,
Invitation from Mr.Arvind Kejriwal
Date: Wed, 6 Jan 2010 14:16:17 +0530
Subject: Invite for Attending Meeting on the Status of RTI in India
Dear Mr. Arasu,
are happy to attach the final report on the comparative assessment of
the performance of the information commissioners in the country (the
final proofing of the report is still ongoing). Kindly go through it
and let us have your feedback.
We cordially invite you for a
two day meeting to discuss in detail the methodology and parameters for
next years's performance evalutaion of information commissioners. The
meeting would be held on 30th and 31st January, 2010 in New
meeting would focus on:
a) Possibility of engaging with
respective information commissioners as a follow up of the attached
report - you may like to present the possibility of the same.
b) Refining the process of the study for next year's survey.
Kindly block the dates. We will be in touch with you for logistics.
A very happy new year!