Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Implementation of RTI Act Needed – an information cell

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 16, 2006

Implementation of RTI Act Needed – an information cell
Sunday July 16 2006 11:08 IST


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Unless the Police Department creates an exclusive ‘‘information cell’’ to deal with the flow of applications seeking information under the Right to Information Act, the spirit of the Act will be violated and the systems put in place for the implementation of the Act will prove useless.

The widespread ignorance about the Act among the police force is not helping the cause. For instance, the policemen on duty at the Police Headquarters here are unaware of the presence of the State Public Information Officer (SPIO) in their midst.

They know DIG Y Anilkumar as head of the administration wing but are in the dark about his additional charge as the SPIO. This ignorance often puts the public in difficulties.

When this website’s newspaper team reached the Headquarters on June 22 to seek information under the Act, after a time-consuming process of getting a chalan receipt for Rs 10 from the treasury, the policemen on duty had led the team to the wrong person.

The team, after a long wait and some embarrassing moments, finally met the SPIO and submitted the application. Twenty-two days later, on July 15, Express received a letter from the Director-General of Police saying that an additional amount of Rs 4 should be paid because the information sought consumed two A4 size pages (Rs 2 for each page).

After what happened at the treasury on June 22, this website’s newspaper team decided to remit the money through ‘‘TR 5’’ maintained in the office of the SPIO. Since there were no helpful directions in front of the Headquarters, this website’s newspaper team approached the duty officer.

The team was not really surprised when the duty officer was blank about TR 5. He then consulted some of his seniors and directed the team to the police cashier who was sitting at a far corner in the topmost floor of the brand new four-storey building at the rear side of the Headquarters.

It was a steep winding climb up to the top. The team found the cashier in the corner but he was not ready to accept the money without getting sanction from a senior officer. So the team went all the way down to the duty officer who then directed it to the DIG Administration’s wing.

The DIG’s staff expressed surprise that the cashier asked for sanction. They tried to call the cashier but they didn’t have the phone number. So one of the clerical staff came with the team to the cashier. Another steep, winding climb.

After the money was remitted, the team was asked to give in writing that the money was paid. So once again it had to go all the way back to the DIG office in the old building to complete the formality. At a time when crores of rupees are being transferred in a matter of seconds, this website’s newspaper team took nearly an hour to pay an amount of Rs 4.


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