Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Section 4 disclosures of Chennai Corporation

I had filed an RTI application with the Chennai Corporation on 27th February 2008 asking whther they had done section 4 disclosures under RTI and when I did not get a satisfactory reply even after a first appeal I filed an appeal with the State Information Commision. The case came up for hearing on 17th Novermber (a delay of close to 8 months). At the hearing the commissioner (Mr.T.R.Ramasamy) asked me specifically which parts of section 4 were not yet fulfilled. I pointed out the sections and told them that the website should have details of expenses made like the MLA Local Area Development Scheme, or the Councillor's ward development scheme. In the hearing the Commissioner ordered the PIO present to take the issue up with the Corporation Commisioner and to comply with the requirements of section 4. The order also said that there will be a review in 6 weeks. The order reached me a couple of days back.

The order has started having its effect. Though no new information has been added so far, the re-design of the corporation webpage for RTI has begun. It can be seen here. They are trying to match the existing pages in the website to the requirements of the section. Compliance is still very far away, but the process has just begun. I hope the process is comprehensively taken through and not just for the sake of answering the commission. Especially I want reports of all the money spent, available on the website so that very few RTIs will be required to be filed. Let us see what happens. I will keep monitoring.

But there is one irony about the whole thing. The Commission which whose order is bringing about the change has itself not complied with section 4. In fact, when compared with the Information Commission website, the Chennai Corporation website is far better (though that doesnt say much) . The State Information Commission website doesnt have anything. After uploading decisions of 3 months (Apr-Jun), the website has gone back into hibernation :-)

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