Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How the Tamil Nadu SIC deals with an RTI application?

I had recently filed an RTI application with the Information commission itself and I received a reply only after 30 days. For the moment, let us forget about the violation of time limit and look at the application itself. The application, which can be viewed here, was filed to get details on

1. Compliance of the commission with the reporting requirements given in Section 25(1) of the RTI Act
2. Status of their website development.
3. Statistics on the number of appeals, complaints, and also details of pending appeals etc.
4. Section 4 disclosure of the commission.

And this is the reply I got. Questions 1 and 4 are completely ignored. Question 2 was answered by giving the link of the website they have got. Question 3 was answered giving the following statistics as on 31.10.2007.

No. of Petitions General Tappals received - 26,317
No. of petitions general tappals on which have been acted upon - 25,737
Under Examination - 364
No. of cases posted for enquiry (Date to be notified) - 216

And these statistics are only for the details of I-VII of Question 3. For section VIII-XIV No information was given. As for the penalties imposed, I got a reply saying that the act specifies that the erring PAs need to be given an opportunity of being heard. And so explanations were sought from the PAs, but decisions are pending on those explanations. It also goes on to say that no analysis of data has been done to give me information in the manner I have sought since there is a shortage of manpower.

The exact reply can be seen here.

1. It is a good thing that their website has come up. Though it is a very half baked one. In fact, most of the links lead to pages which just say "Under Construction". This is not a very bad sign, as we can assume things will happen soon, and so the website will be much better. But they used to have a set of pages on the TN Govt website (http://www.tn.gov.in/rti/) That has data about PIOs, AAs etc. Atleast these should be moved to the new website.

2. One striking thing about the reply is that, out of 4 questions asked, replies were attempted only for 2 questions. 2 questions were completely ignored. Out of that, the 3rd question has been answered only to a very little extent. That is furnishing incomplete information which is clearly in violation of the act (Section 18(1)(e)).

3. In their reply they also say that, they dont differentiate between appeals, complaints and other letters that they get. This is very disturbing since that prevents them giving any kind of report asked for under section 25(1). Moreover, this has been the case for quite sometime. They have never kept track of the number of second appeals and complaints they have received.

4. No information is given regarding section 4 disclosures of the State Information Commission indicating that no such disclosure has been made so far. This is again a clear violation of the act. Section 4(b).

The state information commission is the body which should make sure all PAs implement the act properly. They are the ones bestowed with the power of penalising PAs who dont implement the act. And when you file an RTI applicaiton with the State Information Commission, this is how they reply. Reminds me of the song Chingari koi bhadke...

1 comment:

murgie said...

Are you aware of a volunteer-driven RTI support website called www.rtiindia.org? It would be good if you could post the details of your RTI experiences there so that more people could learn from each other. Thanks. Best, -Murgie