Sunday, December 30, 2007

RTI Project updates - 4

Meeting with the State Chief Information Commissioner
Our meeting with the Tamil Nadu Chief Information Commissioner (will be referred to as CICr hereafter) went pretty well. He was very co-operative. He explained a few things about how they handle applications, petitions etc. I will try to mention a few things here.

1. He said that there were people who did not understand that RTI is an act to get information. So they just send in a letter mentioning a grievance. There is not much the SIC can do on such things, though the CICr said that he normally sends a letter to the department concerned, requesting action on the grievance. Sometimes, the grievance does get resolved.
2. He talked about how the focus is on getting the information asked for. So when somebody files an appeal with the SIC immediately after the 30 days expiry of filing RTI application (without going in for appeal with the AA), such appeals are not ignored, but the SIC asks the PIO concerned to give the information.
3. He also told us that in most cases of appeal, where the facts are obvious from the letters, then an order is passed without calling for an enquiry or personal appearances.

When asked about getting copies of orders passed, he told us that they have passed many orders without calling for enquiries, in which case, though the orders can be obtained, the background papers like the initial RTI application or the replies from the PIO wont be available immediately. The reason is that the background papers are filed separately from the orders and hence a mapping will be tough. (e.g) suppose you pick up a decision and you want the initial RTI application. The RTI application is definitely present in the mounds of paper in the office, but there is no way you can directly pick up the RTI application after looking at the order order. Hence it will be tough for getting details of all the orders passed. But he said that in cases of enquiries held, the order contains a brief summary of the case and the arguments by both the arguments. It will then contain the judgment given. Usually this order is given in 2 pages. He said we can get the copies of all the orders passed where enquiries have been held. Hence this is what we intend to scan and then analyse.

RTI Applications filing

I filed two applications this week, one in which I had asked for details of public toilets and urinals in Chennai. The other one is the expenses incurred for celebrating Mr.Karunanidhi's 50 years as MLA in the secretariat.

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