Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Five steps to ensure access to information

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 23, 2006

Five steps to ensure access to information
– Rahul Mangaonkar
Times of India, Ahmedabad, 22.06.2006

In an enterprising state like Gujarat, how can the babus lag behind, with RTI being the flavour of the hour? Some have started selling forms, while some are charging Rs 50 as appeal fees, and some are charging more than the prescribed Rs 2 per page (A4 size) from citizens. This, apart from being against the Act, is it surprising. While the citizens know that they have a right to know, do they know how?With the national campaign round the corner, it's time to look at bare necessities required.
Forms have been prescribed, but are 'not' mandatory. One can send in request on plain paper or via e-mail in "English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is made, accompanying such fees" as per the Act. In all, Rs 20 needs to be paid for requests to public authorities under the competent authority of Gujarat government and Rs 10 for Central government. In case request has been e-mailed, the fees along with a hard copy of the mail have to be sent within seven days.

Dated request should be addressed to Public Information Officer (PIO), of the office concerned (It's all right if you don't know the name). If one doesn't know where to ask, simply address it to the nearest government office. It could be the district collectorate or the corporation or for that matter talati's office. The Act mandates the PIO of one public authority to transfer the request to the relevant public authority within five days.
The request should begin with "Under Right to Information Act, 2005." this is very important as this brings the PIO under the purview of the various provisions of the Act. Without this, babus will conveniently file it away or simply discard it as trash, like they normally do.

The questions need to have a purpose, should be sharp, concise to ensure accurate answers. Listing your grievances against mis-governance would not help, neither would it help marking copies to other authorities. Take the case of Madhuben of Laghnaj village in Mehsana district, who asked for the norms for issuance of BPL cards, gave details of her application and demanded to know when her card would be issued. Further, how many applications were received after her's and of them how many were issued, while her's was not. Why and who is responsible? Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, the mamlatdar has requested her to withdraw her application with an assurance that he would issue a card under the 'Antyodaya' scheme.

Your contact details and signature. Information sought has to be provided within 30 days, after that it has to be provided free of cost.

The national campaign on promoting usage of RTI, is gathering steam with 42 cities from 14 states having joined in so far. Ahmedabad is the only city in the state that is participating. If you are interested, want to volunteer, write in. You can also call over the RTI helpline – 9924085000.

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