Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Insiders add to AMC’s RTI woes

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 5, 2006

Insiders add to AMC’s RTI woes
By Tina Parekh/TNN
Times of India, 5.8.2006

Ahmedabad: Guess which applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act are giving Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) bosses sleepless nights? The information sought by disgruntled elements within AMC!

Even as AMC officials struggle to adopt the virtues of transparency and accountability forced on them by the Act, they are anxious about suspended or victimised officials who might want to get back at them by asking uncomfortable questions.

AMC sources that almost 50 per cent of all applications are of these nature. Under the RTI Act, AMC cannot even refuse information to these applicants.

“Some troublemakers within AMC might seek information through others, to needle us. There are also officials against whom we took legal action who might demand confidential documents from us which could weaken our case against them,” says deputy municipal commissioner (DyMC) UC Padia.

So anxious are AMC officials about insiders using the RTI instrument to embarrass them that they even raised the concern at a recent RTI workshop held at the Sardar Patel Institute of Public Administration (Spipa).

“It has been noticed that some civic and government officers who have been suspended have been using RTI to harass public authorities. It should be brought to the notice of the State Information Commission (SIC), as well as the nodal RTI departmental officers,” says RTI campaigner, Rahul Mangaonkar.

Applications which seek copies of all vouchers made since inception fall in this category. “In such cases, we officials respond to the queries instead of stonewalling them,” he says.

Secretary of Gantar, Harinesh Pandya, who co-ordinated an RTI awareness camp recently says, that everyone is entitled to seek information under the Act.

“Only 20 per cent cases at the camp involved government servants who wanted information from their departments. But even their queries were genuine. Even if they weren’t, civic officials have to give information under the RTI Act,” says Pandya. The state information commissioner (SIC) has received a number of such applications where government or civic officials against whom an inquiry is on, have gone into appeal after they were denied information.

“In such cases, applicants demand certain confidential documents and file notings from their departments. We suggest that this kind of information be passed on,” says SIC RN Das.

In fact, if government departments make proactive disclosures under RTI Act, many such complaints would lapse, he says. “The Act is bound to be used by some such officials who have an axe to grind. Public authorities must not get bogged down by these queries,” Das says.

3 Responses to “Insiders add to AMC’s RTI woes”

  1. Mahendra Sharma said

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    I want the address when I can drop the request.

    I will appreciate your help.

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