रविवार, 16 अप्रैल 2017

Suggestions from Odisha to Central Govt. about Draft Central RTI Rules, 2017

Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan
Plot No. D-27, Maitree Vihar, Post-Rail Vihar, Bhubaneswar
Date: 15.04.2017

 Gayatri Mishra
  Joint Secretary (IR)
 Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & pension
 Department of Personnel & training
  North Block
  New Delhi
Sub:    Framing  R.T.I rules 2017 in supersession of RTI Rules 2012 -  Comments/suggestions  regarding.
Dear Madam,
            As per your circular dated 31st March 2017 regarding above mentioned subject, a State consultation was organised by Odisha Soohana Adhikar Abhijan (a state–level forum of RTI Activists spearheading campaign for effective implementation of RTI Act in Odisha) at Bhubaneswar on 10.4.17. to prepare a note of  suggestions to Central Govt. for  making  the said draft Rules citizen-friendly, inconsonance with letter and spirit of RTI Act.  Good number of intellectuals, advocates, retired bureaucrats, RTI Activists, Civil Society Groups had participated in the deliberation and presented their views. I  am  herewith  forwarding  these   comments / suggestions  for your reference.

                                                          Draft Central RTI Rules, 2017
    Existing provision
Fees for providing information
(C) actual cost of price for samples of models
(d) Rupees fifty per diskette or floppy

(g) so much of postal charge  involved  in supply of information that exceeds fifty rupees
(C) actual cost of price for samples  and /or  models

(d) No fee for sending information in email, pendrive, CD and any other electronics medium.

(g) to be deleted

Because, no cost is involved to provide the information in electronic means.

As per Notification No.34012/ 13(s)/2005-Estt(B) dtd 6-10-2005, “… Since a number of public authorities do not have offices located at each sub-divisional level or sub-district level, the matter was taken up with the Department of Posts to provide the services of their Central Assistant Public Information Officers (CAPIOs) to function in that capacity for all public authorities under the Central Government…..”; “The Department of Posts have also indicated that they will be in a position to undertake the work only on behalf of those Ministries who have completed this action and have informed them of the same. Ministries/ Departments are, therefore, requested to indicate the details of the Central Public Information Officers designated by them as well as the nodal officers/ central point in their Department to receive the RTI
mails (application etc. forwarded by the CAPIOs) to the Department of Posts urgently.”

Mode of Payment of fees
Money order, paytm to be accepted as mode of payment of fees.

(1) (viii) A certificate  stating  that  the matter under appeal  has not been previously filed  and disposed  or are pending  with the commission or any court  and
 To be deleted
As RTI Act concerns  only supply of  information to the information-seekers, no such type of certificate is   required  and it should  not be ground for rejection of appeal. Secondly, this provision has been borrowed from the impugned CIC (Management) Regulations 2007 [vide Regulation 9(6)]. The expression ‘any court’ is not only superfluous, but also counter-productive, since an RTI applicant may require a piece of information simply in connection with one of his cases pending in a court.

Moreover, If the matter under the appeal was previously filed and disposed or are pending there will be a long time gap, obviously more than 90 days.  For delay there is rule to request for condonation vide Rule 8(vii).  So a certificate as required under Rule 8(viii) is not necessary. 

(ix) proof of service of appeal to respondent
To be deleted
It is presumed that proof of service of appeal to respondent means the copy of appeal to be sent to CPIO, First Appellate Authority (FAA) prior to sending it to Commission. It will be extra financial burden on the poor appellant to send the copy of appeal to respondent. The  present practice of  issuing notice along with copy of appeal petition by the Commission to CPIO  has been widely accepted  and it  has not  created any problem  for anybody in RTI regime.

(2)      Before submitting an appeal to the Commission, the appellant  shall cause  a copy of the appeal to be served on the CPIO  and shall submit a proof of such service to the commission
To be deleted
Procedure for deciding appeals
(iii) inquire through authorised officer further details or facts
To be deleted
As required under section 18 (3) of the RTI Act,  the Commission is empowered itself to enquire  into  cases filed before commission.  Provision  for  appointment of enquiry officer  by  Commission is violation of the RTI Act. As per the Delhi High Court judgement in WP (C) 12714/2009 dated 21.05.2010 in the matter of DDA versus CIC and another, the Commission can’t delegate the enquiry power to any other officer outside its authority.
Withdrawal/abatement of appeal
(1)                The Commission may in its discretion  allow a prayer for withdrawal of an appeal if such prayer is made by the appellant
(2)                The proceedings pending before the commission shall abate  on the death of the appellant
To be deleted

Since 12 years of implementation of RTI Act, many RTI Activists have been murdered due to their fight to expose corruption through use of RTI. May of their  cases are pending in the commission. If the case will be closed, the information relating to corruption or their problem  may not come to public.  Secondly, it will encourage  the vested groups to  kill information-Seekers on the pretext  that  information about their misdeeds  will not be exposed.

CIC RESOLUTION dated13-9-2011 reads, “2. This Commission, therefore, resolves that if it receives a complaint regarding assault or murder of an information seeker, it will examine the pending RTI applications of the victim and order the concerned department(s) to publish the requested information suo motu on their website as per the provisons of law.” Therefore abatement of pending proceedings on the death of the appellant is abatement of transparency

Complaint to the Commission
(1)(V) A  certificate  stating  that  the matter under appeal  has not been previously filed  and disposed  or are pending  with the commission or any court  
 To be deleted
Not required. The purpose of the law to find out information and to be acessable by the citizens. As per RTI Act, the cases relating to non-supply of information will be filed to  Information Commission only.

(vi) Proof of service of complaint to respondent
To be deleted
It is the practice in the commission that the commission issues notice to respondent along copy of the complaint /appeal petition.  It is borrowed from CIC  (Management) Regulation 2007 vide Regulation 10 which has been quashed  by Delhi High Court ( WP C No. 12714/2009 on 21.5.2010.     

(3)                Before submitting  a  complaint to the commission,  the complainant shall cause  a copy of the complaint to  Central Public Information Officer  ad shall submit a proof of such service  to the commission 
 To be deleted
(iv) the Commission may  in its discretion  allow  a prayer  for any amendment  of a complaint during hearing , including conversion of  the complaint into second appeal, if available remedies  have been exhausted  on a prayer  made by the complainant.
To be deleted
It will no way help the complainant or appellant. As per section 18 of the RTI Act, the Commission is empowered to take any kind of step to uphold the law and ensure justice to the complainant. There is no need of conversion of the case into second appeal.
(v) On receipt  of a non-compliance communication, the Commission shall determine  whether  compliance of the decision has been made. Where the Commission  finds non-compliance of its decision, it may proceed  action
To be added
It may proceed action against public authority, CPIO and any referred PIO under the Act.  There should be provision for outlining detailed procedure with fixation of time limit for the Commission to initiate action against CPIO, FAA and Public Authority. 

Xxxxxxx directs that the appeal/complaint/non-compliance or a category of the same may be posted for hearing/disposal by another bench or a bench of two or more information commissioners either at the request of an Information Commissioner or suo moto  if the same involves an intricate question of law or larger public interest.
To be deleted
As per section 18 ( 3) of the Act,  the Commission is required itself to  cause an enquiry into any complaint cases without assigning anybody for enquiry. Constitution of Bench  of CIC  which has found place in CIC  (Management) Regulation,2007    which has been quashed by Delhi High court  ( WPC 12714/2009 dated 21.5.2010.
Presence of parties  before the Commission
(3)The Commission may allow  the parties to be present  in person or through authorised representative  or through video / audio  conferencing  at the time of hearing by Commission
The PIO/ public authority  who has violated RTI Act should not be represented by anybody. He himself is to be present in the hearing to respond the query of the commission.
As per section 19 (5) of the RTI Act,  any appeal proceeding, the onus to prove that  a denial of a request  was justified  shall be on Central Public Information Officer  who denied the request.  Similarly, as per section 20(1) of the RTIAct,  burden of proving  that  he acted reasonably or diligently  shall be on the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer as the case may be.  
Language of the Commission
(1)                An appeal or complaint or non-compliance communication  may be filed  in English or in Hindi  and all the documents  or copies thereof shall also be filed  in English or in Hindi
It should be in Hindi, English and other regional language
As per section 4(4) of the RTI Act, each public authority is required to disseminate all materials  taking into consideration the cost effectiveness, local language  and the most effective method  of communication  in the local area xxxxxxxxx.

 Thanking  you
Yours sincerely

Pradip Pradhan
State Convener

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