RTI consultant ready for the job

Will publicise list of post offices to file applications: S C Agrawal

S C Agrawal, Delhi government’s newly-appointed Right to Information (RTI) consultant, is planning to publicise the list of post offices where applications under the transparency law can be filed by people. 

“Giving people the details about the post offices where they can file their RTI plea would help them use the law more efficiently,” said Agrawal, fresh from a visit to Nepal where he represented India at a Transparency International’s conference. Within a few days of being appointed as consultant by the administrative reforms department, Agrawal, who himself has been active in filing RTI applications, has chalked out a blueprint for smoothening the process of Delhi government departments sharing information with public.

“I also have in mind a strategy for briefing all public authorities on how to handle nuisance petitions,” said Agrawal, who would be holding workshops for government officials and college and school students.

A qualified mechanical engineer from Chandni Chowk, it is Agrawal’s activism and knowledge in the RTI field that has landed him the crucial assignment of improving the Delhi government’s response to public queries.

The 64-year-old consultant, who also holds the Guinness World Record for most number of published letters to the editor in newspapers, plans to give suggestions to government officials to simplify RTI procedures and save public money. “One of my suggestions to the officials will be regarding the size of the paper used for giving a reply to an RTI applicant. Some departments use legal size paper which is longer than a normal A4 sheet. I am going to suggest disuse of legal size paper as it is difficult to photocopy,” he said.

Agrawal also has a plan to improve intra-departmental communication on giving responses to RTI queries. 

“At present, if a query requires response from various offices of a department, each office sends a separate reply to the applicant. Not only are a bulk of these replies in the negative, the RTI applicant is flooded with dozens of letters. We are going to iron out the system for reducing paper work,” said Agrawal. 

The veteran RTI applicant, who takes pride in being the first Indian to use the transparency law on January 3, 2005 by filing a plea in the Supreme Court, said he was also working towards introduction of an ‘RTI stamp’, like a revenue stamp, for replacing a postal order which every RTI applicant is required to attach with a query.

He said on his suggestion the post and telegraph department was also considering to increase the number of post offices in the country where citizens can file an RTI application. 

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