Monday, January 07, 2008

RTI Project updates - 5

Information Commission
Last week I was at the Information commission twice talking to Mr.Dhandapani, Registrar. After our meeting with the commissioner on 26th dec, last wednesday, I went and met Mr.Dhandapani on Monday (Dec 31th). He was not in a very good mood. He said he was filing a reply to a court notice to the commission and he implied that he was being disturbed with interruptions like me :-). He said that he was anyway planning to upload the decisions and hence asked me to wait. He asked me not to be anxious in getting the copies and to understand his situation. He said that there are some errors in decisions that have been already sent and hence he wanted to edit them before giving it to us. I was confused. How can he change an order that was already issued and sent to the individual concerned. But I didnt want to argue that day. He said he will anyway check with the commissioner and asked me to come and meet him again on wednesday. I left that day.

I went and met him again on Thursday 3rd January. He told me that he had talked to the commissioner and that the commissioner also suggested that we wait for some time. He said he will upload the decisions in a month and hence I should wait. I asked him how he can change decisions after they were issued. He said that though they were sent to the individual, now if he gives it to us, it will become public and hence he didnt want to give the uncorrected orders. I told him that we would be least bothered about any grammatical or oversight errors. He said that he understood that I would not mind, but the public will mind. I didnt want to continue the argument. I was very irritated but gave him a disappointed look. Then he said, ok wait for at least 10 days. This I thought was ok, and said, I can wait for 10 days. But he did not specify a date. I immediately looked at the calendar as if I was choosing a date to meet him again. I was hoping that would make him commit to a date. He said that in 10 days there will be pongal and hence I had to come after Pongal. Now I was wild, but still insisted on getting a date. He said come on 22nd. I said ok. But I told him that if on that day he doesnt give me the copies, I must be allowed to scan the. He also said ok. So I came back.

RTI applications
A quick listing of some applications which I had filed in the past and have missed putting it up on the blog would be in order. I had filed applications for the following issues.

1. About publicising complaint numbers by MTC.
2. Foreign trips made by MLAs (Reply received saying there have been only two such trips)
3. Foreign trips by councillor(Reply received saying there have been no such trips)
4. RTI asking for audit reports of Chennai corporation (No reply yet)
5. RTI about usage of garbage composting bins by Chennai Corporation
6. RTI with the personnel dept on why not a single awareness session has been conducted so far for the public

RTI for Passport
Sometime back Arun, a close friend and an active member of AID US RTI group, received a mail from one Jayakumar whose mother had submitted an application for passport a year back (18-Sep-2006) and was yet to get her passport. He himself was in the US and so he contacted Arun, about using RTI to get his mother's passport. So Arun directed him to me. So I filed an RTI application on enquiring the status of the application on 12th Nov 2007. Since I did not reply for a month, I filed an appeal on 14th Dec 2007. Still there was no reply. Around the end of december, Jayakumar asked me if his mother would get the passport before Feb, since his mother has to travel to the US for some important personal work. So I decided to go the passport office and talk to the PIO. I went there, spent around 1.5 hours, before finding the person who handles RTI applicatons. I showed her the RTI application and she immediately recognised it and said the people concerned were not able to find the applicaiton filed initially, and hence could not send a reply to the RTI applicaiton. For another half an hour she tried to locate the application, then came back to me and admitted that the department has lost the application that was filed initially. She also told me that since the Police verification report was clear, if a fresh application is submitted now, the passport will be posted in one day to the applicant. Their admission of the fact that they had lost it, was in itself a success since Jayakumar has written to the grievances dept of the Passport office many times without any success. So I called up Jayakumar and appraised him of the situation. He said he will ask his mom to send a new application filled-in application form.

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