Thursday, August 06, 2009

Understaffing of the TN Information Commission

On July 17th 2009, I was part of a set of 4 people who met the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu a week back, to discuss government implementation of the RTI. Mr.AKV organised the meeting with the hope of bringing in some mechanism like a regular meeting where NGOs/Citizens, Information Commission and Government Officials could interact and evolve solutions over the problems plaguing the implementation of the RTI act. The Chief Secretary did not agree that there ought to be a regular meeting and also refused to admit that awareness levels among officials were poor. When I gave him an example, he refused to believe me. Finally, where I raised the issue of understaffing. It was pretty obvious that the Chief Secretary was very antagonistic towards the commission. He told me that, that was the problem of the Chief Commissioner and not mine. I told him that it was indeed mine too, since it is my appeal that gets delayed upto 10 months because there are not enough staff. At this the P&AR secretary said that they have sanctioned all the staff that were asked for.

After the meeting I just searched the internet for a few details and found that the background of the Chief Secretary. He was the State Vigilance Commissioner when DVAC and TSVC were exempted from the RTI act here under section 24(4). With him at the helm of the TN bureaucracy, I have little hope that the Commission will be given enough resources to function properly. This, I think, will become a huge problem as the Commission staff are working even on saturdays (not all saturdays though) to clear the backlog.

No comments: