Activists want provisions for handling RTI cases at dist-level

Activists want provisions for handling RTI cases at dist-level
RTI activists in the city have largely felt the need for the State Information Commission to make provisions to handle Right to Information cases at the district-level. 

Majority of the activists, specially senior citizens found it inconvenient to travel all the way to Bangalore to approach the appellate authority for the hearing of cases.

In a programme to discuss the loopholes in the Right to Information Act and suggestions to improve the Act, organised by DK Anti Corruption Forum at Roshni Nilaya School of Social Works on Saturday, RTI activists said that there were instances of the appellate authorities defering the hearing even 10 to 11 times. 

It is practically not viable for the applicant to travel to Bangalore everytime only to return futile when the hearing is deferred.

Apart from setting up a mechanism in the district level, a law should be enforced to limit the defering of the case hearing not more than twice, RTI activists demanded.

A senior citizen C A Shenoy said that several times, when the public information officer realises that the applicant has approached the appellate authority, it is then that he acts on the application and furnishes information to avoid the penalty. 

The appellate authorities too entertain this act by closing the case and leaving the officers without imposing the penalty which is not justifiable, he said.

RTI activist Adoor Krishna Rao pointed at the loophole in the State Information Commission, which has restricted the applicants to limit their questions and number of words in an application to 150. 

The Central Information Commission has nowhere put such a restriction, rather the Commission allows an applicant to ask any number of questions and use any number of words in the application. 

Another participant accused the public information officer (PIO) of not maintaining confidentiality of the RTI applicants.

At times, the applicants get threat calls from the opponent party, which is due to the PIO leaking information about the application to the opponent party. 

Suggestions

Some of the suggestions mooted at the discussion programme include, appoint more number of commissioners for the speedy disposal of cases, bring the CRPC provisions under RTI so that criminal action could be initiated against erring officials, make arrangements to pay TA, DA and cost of appeal to the applicant soon after the judgement is in his favour.

DK Anti Corruption Forum office-bearer Vidya Dinker said that the suggestions would be forwarded to the law ministry, Central and State Information Commission.


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