A curious case of RTI on RTIs

Use and misuse

At least a strange query sought under the RTI Act from the Major Roads Division of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) presents a glaring case of misuse of the Act, which was meant to bring transparency in the administration.

According to the documents available with Deccan Herald, an applicant, K Venkatesh Babu, has sought information from the Major Works Division about the total number of applications received by the RTI Cell of the Palike, copies of all the applications received in the last one year, total initial fee collected, total fee collected, total amount spent towards postage for sending information, total amount spent on photocopies, copies of all calculation sheets provided to the applicants, total number of instances where information was provided free and the number of instances when the officials found difficulty in complying with the RTI Act.

The applicant said these details were required as annexure for “our proposed complaint to the honourable Lokayukta, Karnataka.”

More a complaint

The RTI questionnaire is more a complaint and a warning to the officials for overlooking the RTI Act.

Writing a kind of prelude before tossing questions at the Palike officials, he stated that the information sought was part of a survey on the status of RTI application and the reply given to the applicants.

He alleged that the officials were denying information but were forcing the applicants to write ‘received’ on the application forcibly.

“It is surprising that the PIOs (public information officers) concerned of your office have no common basic knowledge about the RTI Act 2005. They have not understood the spirit of the RTI Act-2005, which was enacted by Parliament to have transparence (transparency) of the information to the general public,” Babu stated in his letter.

The Palike officials were last week seen scrambling to gather all the information sought by Babu. 

“It’s around 74-page information from our section alone. Whereas there are three more such sections. We have to provide information free because we did not furnish information within 30 days,” said an assistant executive engineer (AEE) of the Major Roads Division of the Palike.

Not an isolated instance

He said this was not an isolated instance of misuse of the RTI Act and that the Palike was flooded with such applications everyday. “We won’t say the Act has no merits, but there should be some checks and balances to prevent its misuse,” said the AEE.

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