Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

The Karnataka Initiative for Right to Information ” The KIRTI “

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 17, 2006

The Karnataka Initiative for Right to Information " The KIRTI "

Let us LOCALIZE the RTI Act 2005

This was prepared by Parivartan, Delhi, and MODIFIED by

INDIA RTI group, EKAVI Group, eGovINDIA Group and INDIA WBA Group

for use by their group members and Citizens of INDIA.

TO PROMOTE RTI Act 2005.

What is Right to Information?

Right to Information Act 2005, which became effective in October 2005, empowers every citizen to

q       Ask any questions from the Government or seek any information

q       Take copies of any government documents

q       Inspect any government documents.

If the desired information is not provided within 30 days of application, the concerned officer becomes liable for a penalty of Rs 250 per day of default upto a maximum of Rs 25,000 per application. And if wrong information is provided, a penalty upto a maximum of Rs 25,000 can be imposed on the officer.

Some examples

Nannu is a daily wage earner. He lives in Welcome Mazdoor Colony, another slum habitation in East Delhi . He lost his ration card and applied for a duplicate one in January this year. He made several rounds of the local Food & Civil Supplies office for the next three months. But the clerks and officials would not even look at him, leave alone do his job or bother to tell him the status of his application. Ultimately, he filed an application under the Right to Information Act asking for the daily progress made on his application, names of the officials who were supposed to act on his application and what action would be taken against these officials. Within a week of filing application under Right to Information Act, he was visited by an inspector from the Food Department, who informed him that the card had been made and he could collect it from the office. When Nannu went to collect his card next day, he was given a very warm treatment by the Food & Supply Officer (FSO), who is the head of a Circle. The FSO offered him tea and requested him to withdraw his application under Right to Information, since his work had already been done.

Mrs Bakshi has a house in South Delhi. She rent a part of her house to someone, who was using it for commercial purposes. Therefore, a commercial water connection for that part of the house was taken. When the tenant vacated the house, she applied to Delhi Jal Board (DJB) for converting water connection back to domestic. She kept running around for several months. None listened to her. She was even told by some DJB men that the work would be done in no time if she paid a bribe. She refused. Her Neighbour, Saurav, one day told her about RTI and helped her in filing an application. She filed one and her job was done in the next few days.

Mr Sharma had to go to Germany. His daughter-in-law was expecting a baby. He needed a passport urgently. He applied for one. Acccording to the rules, it should be made in 45 days. For six months he kept running around. But no one listened. When he finally applied under RTI, his passport was made in a weeks time.

Pabitra is a Chartered Accountant, who refuses to pay bribes. There was a tax refund due to his client. Despite repeated letters and running around for a year, nothing happened. Pabitra suggested to his client that an RTI application be filed. Client agreed. Refund was received within a few days of filing RTI.

What did these people ask? How did this magic happen?

Nannu asked the following questions in his RTI application:

  1. I filed an application for a duplicate ration card on 27th January 2004. Please tell me the daily progress made on my application so far. i.e. when did my application reach which officer, for how long did it stay with that officer and what did he/she do during that period?

  2. According to the rules, my card should have been made in 10 days. However, it is more than three months now. Please give the names and designations of the officials who were supposed to take action on my application and who have not done so?

  3. What action would be taken against these officials for not doing their work and for causing harassment to the public? By when would that action be taken?

  4. By when would I get my card now?

In normal circumstances, such an application would be thrown in a dustbin. But this law says that the Government has to reply in 30 days. If they don't do that, their salary could be deducted. Now, it is not easy to answer these questions.

The first question is – please provide the daily progress made on my application. There is no progress made. But the government officials cannot write in these many words that they have not acted for so many months. Else that would be admission of guilt on paper. The next question is – please provide the names and designations of the officers who were supposed to take action on my application and who had not done so. If the government provides names and designations of the officials, their responsibility gets fixed. Any officer is most scared of fixing of responsibility against him in this manner. So, the moment one files such an application, his/her pending work is done.

What did Pabitra's client ask? He also asked similar questions:

  1. The appellate Commissioner decided an appeal in my favor which should result in refund of taxes to me. I have made written requests earlier for the same. Please tell me the daily progress made on my requests so far. i.e. when did my application reach which official, for how long did it stay with that official and what did he/she do during that period?

  2. According to the rules, the appeal effect should have been given in 30 days. However, it is more than a year now. Please give the names and designations of the officials who were supposed to take action on my application and who have not done so?

  3. What action would be taken against these officials for not doing their work and for causing harassment to the public? By when would that action be taken?

  4. By when would I get my refund now?

And within a few days of filing this RTI application, Pabitra's client got his refund.

What did Mr Sharma ask? He asked the following questions from the Passport Officer:

  1. I made an application for issue of a new passport (copy attached). Please tell me the daily progress made on my application so far. i.e. when did my application reach which officer, for how long did it stay with that officer and what did he/she do during that period?

  2. According to the rules, my passport should have been made in 45 days. However, it is more than six months now. Please give the names and designations of the officials who were supposed to take action on my application and who have not done so?

  3. What action would be taken against these officials for not doing their work and for causing harassment to the public? By when would that action be taken?

  4. By when would I get my passport now?

And he got his passport within the next few days.

What did Mrs Bakshi ask? She asked:

  1. I made an application for conversion of commercial connection to domestic on ________. Please tell me the daily progress made on my application so far. i.e . when did my application reach which officer, for how long did it stay with that officer and what did he/she do during that period?

  2. Please give the names and designations of the officials who were supposed to take action on my application and who have not done so?

  3. What action would be taken against these officials for not doing their work and for causing harassment to the public? By when would that action be taken?

  4. By when will my work be done now?

Where to file RTI application?

Every Government department has nominated one of its officers as a Public Information Officer (PIO). You should file your application with him/her. You have to deposit an application fee along with your application. In the case of Central Government Departments, the application fee is Rs 10. It is the same for many State Governments also. But many State Governments have fixed different fee. The fees fixed by different states are given in annexure. There is no fee for the people living below poverty line.

You could submit the application through following methods:

q       In person or by sending someone to the office of the PIO. You could deposit the fee in cash or by DD drawn in favor of the Department.

q       By post. You could deposit the fee in by DD drawn in favor of the Department.

q       In Post Offices. Several branches of Post Offices have been authorized to receive RTI applications. The list of these branches are available at the website ______. You just need to present your RTI application at any of these post offices. They will accept your fee in cash and give you a receipt of the money and the application. They will then deliver it to the concerned PIO at their own cost. If you deposit your application through a post office, the period for providing information increases to 35 days.

How to write an application?

Samples of application for Nannu and Mr Sharma are given in Annexure 1.

Why is it that this Act works when no other law seems to have worked in this country?

This is because of only one reason i.e. it says that if the concerned official does not give information in time, his salary could be deducted. This not only affects him financially, but also adversely affects his career. Therefore, every official tries to comply with this Act and provide information in time.

What if you do not hear anything in 30 days? Who would impose penalty on officials?

If you do not get information in 30 days (or 35 days, if you send your application through post office), you should file an appeal to the officer senior to the PIO. An appeal is nothing but a simple letter to the senior officer stating your grievance. He is required to listen to your grievance within 30 days of your appeal. If you do not get a satisfactory response from the senior officer also within 30 days, then you should file an appeal in the form of a simple letter to the Information Commission, specifically designated for this purpose. The Information Commissioners have the power to impose penalties on guilty officials.

Though RTI can be used by people in several ways,

Like developmental works, rations, etc, wherein people have to pay bribes to get their legitimate work done in any Government Department, either due to expectation of bribe or due to simple laziness of the concerned officials.

The following message should be aggressively promoted through advertisements and various programs:

"You need not pay bribes any more in this country. Now you have an effective alternative – Right to Information. Use RTI. Often, it works faster than bribes."

What are the types of issues, which could be taken up by Citizens of INDIA ?

Wherever you have a legitimate work pending, you have filed all the documents, you have completed all formalities, you have a genuine case, which the official ought to do in his normal course of duty but is not doing either for expectation of bribe or merely laziness. We call it extortionist bribery. For instance,

q       Issue of passport

q       Issue of any type of license

q       Issue of various certificates like marriage certificate, death certificate, birth certificate, SC/ST certificate, OBC certificate etc

q       Inclusion of name in voters' list

q       Issue of voter ID card

q       Correction of water, electricity, telephone bills

q       Any legitimate problem with a department like change of faulty meter, providing new water or electricity connection, etc

q       Filing of FIR

q       Claiming various kinds of refunds or payments etc like tax refund, medical reimbursement etc

q        

Samples of application for Nannu and Mr Sharma are given in Annexure 1.

 RTI Activist should be required to draft applications for the issues mentioned in Annexure 3. Many more such issues could be thought of and practice should be done for them.

 

Whereas in most of the cases, the standard RTI application form annexed at Annexure 2 herewith would be sufficient and only blanks would need to be filled, however, RTI Activists could ask more questions specific to the case, which tend to nail down the authorities.
 

Annexure 1

RTI application of Nannu

To

The PIO,

Food & Supplies Department,

K Block, Vikas Bhavan,

I P Estate, New Delhi – 1

Sub: Application under Right to Information Act 2005

Dear Sir,

Please provide the following information under Right to Information Act 2005. Since I am a person living below poverty line (copy of my earlier ration card attached as a proof that I belong to BPL category), I am not depositing application fee:

1.       I filed an application for a duplicate ration card on 27th January 2004. Please tell me the daily progress made on my application so far. i.e. when did my application reach which officer, for how long did it stay with that officer and what did he/she do during that period?

2.       According to the rules, my card should have been made in 10 days. However, it is more than three months now. Please give the names and designations of the officials who were supposed to take action on my application and who have not done so?

3.       What action would be taken against these officials for not doing their work and for causing harassment to the public? By when would that action be taken?

4.       By when would I get my card now?

Yours sincerely,

(Nannu)

E Block, Welcome Colony,

Seelampur, Delhi-93


 

RTI application of Mr Sharma

To

The PIO,

Regional Passport Office,

Bhikaji Cama Place,

New Delhi

Sub: Application under Right to Information Act 2005

Dear Sir,

Please provide the following information under Right to Information Act 2005:

1.       I made an application for issue of a new passport (copy attached). Please tell me the daily progress made on my application so far. i.e. when did my application reach which officer, for how long did it stay with that officer and what did he/she do during that period?

2.       According to the rules, my passport should have been made in 45 days. However, it is more than six months now. Please give the names and designations of the officials who were supposed to take action on my application and who have not done so?

3.       What action would be taken against these officials for not doing their work and for causing harassment to the public? By when would that action be taken?

4.       By when would I get my passport now?

I am separately depositing Rs 10 as application fee.

Yours sincerely,

(S Sharma)


 

Annexure 2

Draft application form which would be used by the volunteers during camp and which could be used as a standard template for every one

Dated:

To

The PIO,

_____________________

_____________________

_____________________

Sub: Application under Right to Information Act 2005

Dear Sir,

I had made an application for the following reason (copy of application is attached) but no satisfactory action has been taken on my application so far.

Please provide the following information with respect to the same:

1.       Please indicate the daily progress made on my application so far. i.e. when did my application reach which officer, for how long did it stay with that officer and what did he/she do during that period?

2.       Please give the names and designations of the officials who were supposed to take action on my application and who have not done so?

3.       What action would be taken against these officials for not doing their work and for causing harassment to the public? By when would that action be taken?

4.       By when would my work be done now?

5.       .

6.        

I am separately depositing Rs 10 as application fee.

Yours sincerely,


 

Annexure 3

Some situations for which volunteers should draft RTI applications during training sessions

q       You made a complaint to the police but they are not registering FIR.

q       You want to know balance in your PF account. You have retired and want to claim your PF but the authorities are not responding to your letters.

q       You are a Government servant and have been transferred out against the transfer policy. The Government is not responding to your requests to transfer you back.

q       You are a Government servant. Your requests for claim of medical reimbursements are not being heeded to.

q       You have a faulty electricity meter in your house. But the authorities are not replacing it despite repeated requests.

q       The sewer is choked in your locality for some time but the authorities have not responded to repeated requests.

For further information

Write to: karnatakarti@yahoo.com or kannadarti@yahoo.com

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