Skip to main content

Maharashtra RTI applicants can track pleas from date of filing to date of disposal

The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information* has welcomed the Maharashtra Chief Information Commission’s order asking the chief secretary to create an online system to enable RTI applicants to know the status of their pleas. Text of the NCPRI statement:
The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) welcomes the landmark order passed by Chief Information Commissioner, Maharashtra that could greatly empower RTI users, Heads of Departments, and the Commissions to track and monitor every Public Information Officers (PIO) response to every RTI application across the state of Maharashtra. The order was passed in response to a complaint filed by the former Central Information Commissioner, Shri Shailesh Gandhi complaint under section 18 of the RTI Act that pointed out that citizens were unable to know their status of their RTI application, once it was submitted.
In its order dated 16.04.2017, the commission has directed the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra to “create an online register in every office which has a public information officer (PIO) and put on a single platform all the RTI applications filed in every office at every level where RTI applications are submitted and filed and also upload this information on the websites of public Authorities so that citizens can also access this vital information. The format to be used for the RTI register is as suggested by the complainant in Annexure 1`. This platform would facilitate the compilation and tracking of RTI applications filed offline, as well as those that might be filed online with Departments. This order should be implemented by 15th June 2017.”
The Commission cites as a precedent the fact that the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) vide OM No.1/6/2011-IR dated 15.04.2013 also mandates that “All Public Authorities shall proactively disclose RTI applications and appeals received and their responses, on the websites maintained by Public Authorities with search facility based on key words”.
  • This order will enable citizens in general and RTI applicants in particular, to track the RTI application with every PIO from the date of filing till the date of disposal.
  • It will also enable the supervisory authorities including the Head of Department to monitor the status of disposal of RTI applications by respective PIOs.
  • The mechanism would greatly facilitate the Information Commission to put together the report for the state legislature as per the provisions of the RTI Act in a more timely and accurate fashion.
  • Properly followed, this format and order would allow the people and policy makers to know with far greater accuracy, the number of applications filed each year, the time taken to answer them, and some of the essential processes and timelines followed by the PIO in answering the RTI applications.
  • Finally it would greatly enable the Commission to better analyze (in terms of departments and geographical areas) many aspects related to the status of implementation of the RTI Act in the State.
The NCPRI welcomes this order, and requests the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra to implement it as soon as possible.
Based on this order, the NCPRI would also like to urge the DoPT to pass an Office Memorandum so that this landmark decision is made applicable across the country. Finally, we also urge the DoPT to incorporate this decision and format as part of the RTI Draft rules 2017 that have been put up for discussion on the web site.
The NCPRI will continue to work with RTI users and activists to ensure that similar complaints are placed before State information Commissions, and State Governments are urged to bring similar provisions in force.
By treating this order as establishing a good practice, and a precedent, Public Authorities and Information Commissions could easily ensure that these provisions become orders across the country; thereby strengthening the RTI regime everywhere.

*Signed by Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey, Venkatesh Nayak, Bhaskar Prabhu, Rakesh Dubuddu, Joy Kumar, Dr Sheikh

Text of Maharashtra Chief Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad’s order on complaint under Section 18 of RTI Act, 2005 in Shailesh Gandhi vs Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra:

Complainant Shri Shailesh Gandhi has filed Complaint(by email) under Section 18 (1) (f) of the Act on 16 th April, 2017 with the Commission in which he has mentioned following points:
1) It is fairly difficult for Heads of Departments( HODs), and Information Commission to review the overall performance of individual PIOs and FAAs on real time basis and to take corrective actions in an ongoing basis in real time.
2) Software can easily be developed so that a dashboard showing each PIOs performance and of the public authority would be transparent for everyone to see.
3) This will also facilitate preparation of the annual report and be a very useful tool for monitoring individual PIOs and public authorities continuously.
Complainant has therefore approached the Commission with a request to treat this as a complaint under Section 18 (1) (f) of RTI Act ,with a request to issue directives to all public authorities to arrange to publish details of the RTI applications and their disposals in the format enclosed by him.
Commission appreciates excellent suggestion made by Shri Shailesh Gandhi and treats his request as Complaint under section 18 of RTI Act,2005. During last over 11 years, Commission has noted almost total lack of review of the performance of PIOs and FAAs by their superiors with the result that Public Authorities are not only required to pay huge Compensation to the Information seekers from public exchequer but Govt is also responsible for ineffective implementation of such a revolutionary Act which directly relates to Citizens exercising Fundamental Right of “Right to expression” enshrined in the Constitution.
It is pertinent to note that DOPT also vide Deptt.’s O.M. No.1/6/2011-IR dated 15.04.2013 has directed that:
“All Public Authorities shall proactively disclose RTI applications and appeals received and their responses, on the websites maintained by Public Authorities with search facility based on key words. RTI applications and appeals received and their responses relating to the personal information of an individual may not be disclosed, as they do not serve any public interest.”
Commission therefore in exercise of powers vested in it under Section 19(8)(a) of RTI Act,2005, order that Chief Secretary, Govt of Maharashtra should create an online RTI register in every office which has a Public Information Officer and put on a single platform all the RTI applications filed in every office at every level where RTI applications are submitted and filed and also upload this information on the websites of Public Authorities so that Citizens can also access this vital information. The format to be used for the RTI Register is as suggested by Complainant in Annexe 1. This platform would facilitate the compilation and tracking of RTI applications filed offline as well as those that might be filed online with Departments. This order should be implemented by 15 th June,2017 and detailed compliance should be reported to Commission by 15th June, 2015 positively.

Text of the complaint by Shailesh Gandhi under Section 18 (1) (f) of the RTI Act to the Chief Information Commissioner, Maharashtra:

Today, all RTI applications submitted by citizens are being entered in a physical register maintained by the PIO/APIO in every office where the RTI applications are filed. As a result, while the PIO knows of the number and status of the RTI applications in his/her office, there is no mechanism by which senior officers and Heads of Departments can track the status of such applications. Even an applicant/citizen is currently forced to keep contacting the concerned office to find out the status of the application. Most importantly, the Commission is mandated under the RTI Act to present an Annual Report under Sections 25 (1) (2) (3) and (4) (Annexe 2) to the State Government to be presented to the State Assembly on the status of RTI in the State. Despite the government and the departments also being mandated to provide this information to the Commission, one of the biggest challenges in properly preparing such a report, is the lack of timely and reliable information from Departments/Field Offices about the number of RTI applications and the efficiency with which they are being processed. If such information were to be available online in real time basis, it would allow all the concerned people to track applications as well as allow the Government to monitor their disposal. Finally it would greatly enable the Commission to better analyze (in terms of departments and geographical areas) many aspects related to the status of implementation of the RTI Act in the State. It would also give the position of RTI applications received and disposed and be very useful.
I am suggesting a format in which each PIO would enter the data and the paper registers could be dispensed with. A simple software could automatically update the data in a real time basis and would be available to citizens and all officers, ensuring transparency.
Finally, such an online digital platform would help comply with the provisions of pro-active disclosure under Section 4(1)(a)(b) of the RTI Act (Annexe 4) . It would also help comply with the mandate under section 4 (2) which is as follows –
I would be very happy to assist in developing this template and software.
Suggested format

This has drawn considerably from a request by the CIC of Kerala to the Chief Secretary of Kerala.



Crucial to revisit roots, embrace core Hindu principles: love, compassion, harmony

A note on religious leaders'  Satya Dharam Samvad in Haridwar: *** In a groundbreaking gathering, more than 25 religious leaders including Swamis, Acharyas, Pujaris, Gurus, and Sadhvis from all over India convened to discuss the tenets of Hinduism on September 16th, 2023, in Haridwar, to discuss and discern the current trajectory of Hinduism. This brand new initiative, the Satya Dharam Samvad, was inspired to organize its first assembly in response to the December 2021 Dharma Sansad, where hate speech and calls for violence against the Muslim community contravened the essential principles of Hinduism. Religion is being used to incite riots among Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, etc. In the face of such hatred, Swami Raghavendra felt that something meaningful should be done in the present climate. 

Maoist tendency of mechanically adhering to Chinese path ignores Indian conditions

By Harsh Thakor  The C.P.I. (Maoist) formed in 2004 with merger of the C.P.I. (M.L) Peoples War and the Maoist Communist Centre has demonstrated courage in intensity compared to any great revolutionary struggle in the history of the world. It leads the largest armed movement of a Peoples Guerrilla Army in the world today and proved themselves as the true torch bearers of the Indian Communist movement.

Significant step towards empowering and particularly engaging with informal workers

ActionAid note on drive to empower informal sector workers Odisha with the support of District Labour Department: *** The Odisha Unorganised Workers Social Security Board (OUWSSB) facilitated an Unorganized Workers Awareness Camp at the Red Cross Bhawan in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The event took place in collaboration with the District Labour Department at Khordha, Centre for Child and Women Development and ActionAid Association. This informative event aimed at empowering informal sector workers by disseminating crucial information regarding their eligibility for various social security schemes provided by the Government of Odisha.

We need to resurrect Neruda, give birth to poets of his kind amidst neofascist rampage

By Harsh Thakor  On 23rd September we commemorate the 50th death anniversary of Pablo Neruda, whose contribution to revolutionary poetry was path breaking. Pablo Neruda’s poetry manifested the spiritual essence of revolutionary poetry and how poetry was a weapon for a revolutionary struggle. The story of his life illustrated the spiritual transformation undergone a human being to transform him into a revolutionary and how environment shapes the lie of revolutionary.

Grassroots NGO enlightens people of Kupwara with intricacies of Right to Information

J&K RTI Foundation and Founder Civil Rights Movement Kupwara note on how RTI Pend is empowering Kupwara with insights on Right to Information Act: *** RTI Pend, the grassroots initiative aimed at democratizing access to information, hosted its 2nd event in Kupwara. On the request of the Civil Rights Movement Kupwara, this event was tailored to enlighten the people of Kupwara with the intricacies of the Right to Information Act, presented in their local language and dialects. The event successfully bridged both offline and online participation, addressing queries on the spot and offering applicants practical solutions.

Dev Anand ably acted as westernised, urban educated, modern hero, as also anti-hero

By Harsh Thakor  On September 26th we celebrated the birth centenary of legendary actor Dev Anand. Dev Saab carved out a new epoch or made a path breaking contribution in portraying romanticism and action in Bollywood cinema, giving his style or mannerisms a new colour. Arguably no Bollywood star manifested glamour in such a dignified or serene manner or struck the core of an audience’s soul in romantic melodies. Possibly we missed this evergreen star being cast in a Hollywood film. Dev Anand is like an inextinguishable soul of Bollywood. Although not as artistic or intense as Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor or Ashok Kumar ,Dev Anand surpassed them all for liveliness or flamboyance, with his performances radiating g energy on the screen, in realms rarely transcended. In his own right, Dev Saab, was a craftsman, like his classical contemporaries, with a characteristic composure. Perhaps never was a Bollywood star so suave, bubbling or charming as Dev Anand, who often looked like an Indian versi

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Agro-biodiversity through seed identification, conservation, replication, crop selection

By Kuntal Mukherjee, Basant Yadav, Shivnath Yadav* This article is mainly based on a journey of the three of us since 2010 based on field experience, study of different articles, reflective journeys with local community based organisations, villagers and practitioners in Chhattisgarh. The slow growth of Agriculture in India with near stagnation in productivity since mid ‘80s in contrast to the remarkable growth during the green revolution period has come to the front as a great concern. In post WTO era Indian Agriculture has been witnessing structural changes, uncontrolled influx of agriculture goods and commodities from foreign countries due to open market nature. The gradual reduction in subsidies from internal production leads to increasing cost of production of agriculture produces at the farm gate. It causes gradual decrease in internal production as well as productivity and posing threats to small farm and stakeholders. 

Indian youth can choose political career which offers tremendous opportunities

By Sudhansu R Das  The Indian political sector is growing faster than any other sector in the world. This sector has been fully liberalised. Political career in India is open to any age group starting from 25 plus to 90 plus; people with any educational background, even an illiterate person can contest election in India. An old man or woman with multiple organ failure can become leader of a political party; they can control party workers from the hospital bed also. Social status, physical and mental ability seldom stand in the way of a political leader. Advanced age is not an issue which can be reversed with effortless ease. 

Commodification of road accident deaths: The hidden health hazard of motonormativity

By Chandra Vikash*  Jahnavi Kandula, an Indian student from Andhra Pradesh, studying in America was killed in a road accident by a police motor car in January 2023. Now, 8 months after the accident, a bodycam video of Daniel Orderer, who is the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, has gone viral on social media. He was laughing at her death and saying that “she was 26 years old, anyway… she had limited value… just give her $11,000 (ie Rs 9.13 lakh)”.