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.

Comments

TRENDING

Mental health: We talk of poverty figures, but not increase in suicides since 2014

By IMPRI Team Highlighting  the issue of mental health and addressing the challenges involved, # IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Institutional Support for Mental Health and Wellbeing under the #WebPolicyTalk series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps . The discussion was chaired by Prof Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI and Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai . The distinguished panel included – Prof Anuradha Sovani, Former Professor and Head, Department of Psychology, and Former Dean, Faculty of Humanities at SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai and National Core Committee member and Ethics Committee Chairperson, Association of Adolescent and Child Care India ; Dr Soumitra Pathare, Director, Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy at Indian Law Society, Pune ; Dr Swati Rane, Founder CEO at SevaShakti Healthcare Consultancy, Mumbai and Founder V

Dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and sustainable growth of mediocrity

By Arup Mitra* The theory of mediocrity would suggest that the meritorious who are always small in number as a nature’s gift will be dominated by a vast number of mediocre as the latter cannot withstand the inferiority they suffer from. By subjugating the merit, they derive a pleasure of having established their superiority. Such processes are functional in all spheres in life though the field of art is the worst sufferer. An artist mind is most sensitive and those who are meritorious in this lot possess exceptionally different traits. This makes them more vulnerable and, on the other hand, it paves the path of the mediocre to cast their shadows all around. Unjust and strong criticisms are sufficient to detract many. In developing countries, the modes of subjugation are many. Individuals do not hesitate to take recourse to criminal means as the subconscious prevalent with vengeance, accesses easily the outlets for execution. The lack of civility and the power of money form a unique com

Beyond Naxalbari: Defective tendencies, mechanical copy of Chinese path

By Harsh Thakor* Naxalbari Movement in May 1969 ushered a new era in Indian history. The scenes were reminiscent of a spiritual renaissance with Marxist political consciousness elevating at an unparalleled scale. This year it was its 55th anniversary on May 25th. Similar to time of Naxalbari agricultural workers and the peasantry are enslaved with burden of debts and globalization has entangled them like an octopus.Corporates have virtually alienated tribals. Inspired by the Chinese Revolution and Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Naxalbari movement upheld the concept of agrarian revolution protracted peoples War and New Democratic Revolution, revolting against the revisionism of the CPI and CPM. It formulated that India was still engripped by semi-colonialism and semi-feudalism since 1947, with landlordism only abolished on paper and economy bounded to service of foreign capital. Naxalbari inspired the peasantry and other oppressed sections that they could form their own organs of

How India, Bangladesh perceive, manage Sunderbans amidst climate change

By IMRPI Team The effects of climate change have been evident, and there have been a lot of debates around the changes to be made locally to help and save the earth. In this light, the nations met at the COP 26 conference recently. To discuss this further, the Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi , organized a panel discussion on “COP 26 and Locally Led Adaptations in India and Bangladesh Sunderbans” under the #WebPolicyTalk series- The State of the Environment – #PlanetTalks . The talk was chaired by Dr Jayanta Basu, Director, Non-profit EnGIO, Faculty at Calcutta University and an Environmental Journalist, The Telegraph , ABP . The Moderator of the event, Dr Simi Mehta, CEO and Editorial Director, IMPRI , started the discussion by stressing the talk on the living conditions of people living in the Sunderbans Delta from both the countries, i.e. India and Bangladesh. According to the report

NEP: Education must shift away from knowledge, move to teaching students

Dr Anjusha Gawande* The Education sector in the globe is changing dramatically. Many manual jobs may be captured over by machines as a consequence of multiple spectacular advances in science and technology, including the machine learning, and artificial intelligence. A professional workforce, particularly one that includes mathematics, computer science, and data science, as well as multidisciplinary competencies in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, will be in incredibly popular. As a result, education must shift away from knowledge and toward teaching students, how to be creative and transdisciplinary, and how to innovate, adapt, and process information differently in innovative and rapidly changing sectors. The education development agenda at the global level is represented in Goal 4 (SDG4) of India's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted in 2015. Ministry of Education has announced the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) on 29.07.2020. In J

40 per cent of Australia’s population reported having No Religion in 2021 Census

South Asia Times, a Melbourne-based news site, says , Australia’s 2021 Census shows, there is ‘no religion’ surge in the country amidst religious diversity: The 2021 Census has revealed increasing diversity in the religions Australians identified, reflecting continuing changes in the country's social attitudes and belief systems. Christianity is the most common religion in Australia, with over 40 per cent (43.9 per cent) identifying as Christian. This has reduced from over 50 per cent (52.1 per cent) in 2016 and from over 60 per cent (61.1 per cent) in 2011. As in earlier Censuses, the largest Christian denominations are Catholic (20.0 per cent of the population) and Anglican (9.8 per cent). While fewer people are reporting their religion as Christian, more are reporting ‘no religion’. Almost 40 per cent (38.9 per cent) of Australia’s population reported having no religion in the 2021 Census, an increase from 30 per cent (30.1 per cent) in 2016 and 22 per cent (22.3 per cent) in 20

Inflation targeting in India: Why RBI should focus on stabilizing the real economy

By Kaibalyapati Mishra, Krishna Raj* Inflation is a piece of bad news. In recent months, the pressure of hyperinflation that is galloping hope of the common man has stayed in the limelight with the fear of a continuous prevalence. The onset of COVID followed war trodden global equations and the resultant crude oil price menace, this ripping effect of inflationary tendencies has over-burdened the recovery process in India. With a surge of 15.08% in WPI and 7.79% in CPI, the turbulence has invited strict actions from the central bank in terms of hiking interest rates with an upward calibrated stance. Amongst these tumultuous situations, several structural questions have started gearing the discussion up in the academic and technocratic fora. Questions about the flaws of the existing framework of inflation targeting, its replication in real terms and possible viable alternatives are reasonable to be discussed. In this piece, we discuss the flaws of the inflation targeting framework in the

Addressing challenges of digital divide, public awareness, inclusive development

How is digital awareness propelling rural development in India? A note by S M Sehgal Foundation: *** John Rawls in his path-breaking book titled, A Theory of Justice, proposed the two following principles that can easily be extended to empowerment and development of all citizens of a country, and in this context, the diverse population of India. (1) Every citizen is entitled to equal rights along with basic liberties (2) Social and economic inequalities are to be balanced in a way such as to: (a) Provide the greatest benefit to the least advantaged, (b) Provide equality of opportunity for all offices and positions. Inclusive growth is a relevant policy goal for the people of India that will result in both growth and inclusion, and follow the Rawlsian “maximin” principle. The target should be to maximize the welfare of the poorest. As we complete 75 years of independence, the diversity and divide in India is still stark and negatively skewed. With a large population still dependent on a

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Krätli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

West Bengal police inaction in immoral trafficking case of a Muslim woman

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, on Muslim woman victim trafficking, police inaction, and need immediate rescue: I am writing to inform you about a case of illegal trafficking and profuse police inaction regarding the same of a marginalized Muslim teenager named Anima Khatun (name changed), daughter of Mr. Osman Ali. The victim and her husband had been residents of the village Daribas, under Dinhata police station Cooch Behar district since their marriage in 2014. Six months following their marriage, Anima Khatun along with her husband, sister-in-law, sister-in-law's husband as well as her in-laws shifted to Delhi in search of work. They stayed there for 2 years after which they all came back to their native village. They stayed at their native residence for about one month and then they went back to Delhi. In Delhi, Anima was in touch with her family till the next six months, after which t