Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

RTI ACT :: Meeting with President

Posted by rtiact2005 on November 2, 2006

As a followup to the letters/emails/petitions to the President from
across the country and world, Demonstration at Vigyan Bhawan and then
assurance by the President to meet and hear the aggrieved(with the
functioning of CIC ) citizens, we met the President this afternoon .
We appealed to him to intervene in the functioning of the Information
Commission,which has made a mockery of the Right to Information Act in 
its very first year.

Initially we briefed him about the RTI Act and the ray of hope it
awakened in the common man. The President was also apprised of the
functioning of CIC where 

- an appellant is often not called for hearing. Appeals are 'disposed
off' without an appellant being heard.

- The officers, who are violating the RTI Act by not giving
information,have not even once been penalized as per the provision of
the Act, by the CIC.

- As a result, the rate of pendency of appeals is rapidly increasing.

- Public Information Officers feel fearless and challenge the
information applicants by not complying with providing information.

- In its hearings the Commissioners do not treat the citizen at power
with public authorities. Hearings are rescheduled if the public
authorities want it. If an appellant is a few minutes late the hearing 
is dismissed.

- Appeals made by students for transparency in the examination system
are dismissed on the dubious ground that transparency in the
examination system could adversely affect the integrity of the system.

The President gave a serious hearing to the difficulties. During the
half an hour meeting He took personal notes on separate note sheets to 
all the points that were discussed. The best part of it was that it was 
not a one sided meeting, he discussed at almost every point and after 
understanding our viewpoint he proceeded to next point. This was a good 
sign.

Finally we requested him to institute and independent enquiry Under
Section 14 of the RTI Act, We said that  "He holds the balance between 
the State authorities and the common citizen who have no means other 
than the RTI Act, to seek justice from a system, which asks for bribes at 
every step. If the Act is not given a chance to be put into practice 
and if the custodians of the Act, the CIC throttles the Act then 
intervention by the President alone is the hope of the common man."

The President said that he'll go into all the details provided by us
and then assured us that he'll do the needful.

Manish Sisodia
09868875898
--------------------------------
I am sendig the appeal also, which we submitted to the President.
---------------------------------

An Appeal to the President of India Shri A P J Abdul Kalam
by the citizens of India – the users of the Right to Information Act 
2005.

Dated: 25.10.'06
The President of India, Shri APJ Abdul Kalam
Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi

Respected President,

We the citizens of India and the users of the RTI Act 2005 are greatly 
concerned about the functioning of the Central Information Commission 
and the State Information Commissions. The National RTI Act 2005 came 
into effect a year ago. Several states including Delhi had similar Acts 
in force for the last 4 to 5 years. During this period, a large number 
of under-privileged people began to see a ray of hope because they were 
able to get their food rations regularly as a result of using the Act. 
About 200 poor children in resettlement colonies of east Delhi were 
able to get admission in proper schools. People began to get their work 
done without having to pay bribes.  Some of these cases are mentioned in 
an enclosure to this letter.

A great deal of hope was generated when a nation wide campaign was 
launched to create awareness about the RTI Act last July in 55 towns of the 
country simultaneously with the active participation of NDTV. Cynicism 
was on the decline for once, and people began to feel that through the 
use of RTI they could change things for the better.
However, this wave of hope has turned into despair due to the
functioning of the Central and State Information Commissions. They
were entrusted with the implementation of the RTI Act to bring about
transparency and accountability in government functioning, but in fact 
they are making a mockery of the Act.

An analysis of the orders passed by the Central Information Commission 
(CIC) revealed the following:

1. In 71 percent of the total appeals received by the Commission, the
CIC  'disposed of' appeals without calling the appellants. The CIC did 
not adhere to the principles of natural justice, which requires
hearing the appellants to ensure that denial of information is in
accordance with the exemptions listed in the law. The Commissioners
have publicly stated that they do not need to hear people before
dismissing their cases.

2. The CIC has not imposed penalty in even a single case during the
first year on officials guilty of denial of information which amounts
to serious violations of the RTI Act. The RTI Act explicitly provides
for penalty in such cases. Out of the 1500 cases decided by the CIC so 
far, penalty had been imposed in only two. One has already been
withdrawn and the other is in the process of being withdrawn. CIC had
issued show cause notices in 59 cases without result or penalty. With
nothing to fear, the government functionaries and public authorities
have increasingly begun to withhold information. Public Information
officers are taking advantage of this situation, and openly
challenging the right of the people to know.

3. The pendency of cases at the CIC is increasing day by day with the
CIC receiving on an average 2000 cases every month. Since penalty is
not being imposed as stipulated in the RTI Act, the number of appeals
is naturally on the rise. The CIC has displayed a lack of knowledge of 
principles and procedures of justice. In a recently held public
hearing on the functioning of the CIC, the former Chief Election
Commissioner, Shri T.S. Krishnamurthy suggested that the CIC could do
with judicial training by a retired Judge.

4. Appeals on information about examination results, which affect the
future of the appellants have been dismissed with order after order,
on the dubious ground that transparency in examination system would
affect adversely the integrity of the examination system.

A long time after independence, we had seen a ray of hope for a
cleaner and better future. This hope would be shattered if an inquiry
were not held into the functioning of the CIC and things are allowed
to drift in the present direction.

Sir, your Vision 2020 of an India with eGovernance presupposes total
transparency and free availability of information through
inter-connectivity at all levels of the government. The direction that 
the CIC is taking would never allow realization of this vision of 
yours.

We appeal to you Sir to invoke section 14 of the RTI Act, which
provides the President with the power to institute an enquiry into the 
functioning of the Central Information Commission. The CIC is meant to 
be the protector of the RTI Act for the people of India. Left to the 
CIC, the Act will be killed by its own custodians. We look up to you to 
prevent that from happening. Let the ray of hope lighted by the RTI Act 
survive and shine brighter on our democracy.

Yours Sincerely,
Dr. Sandeep Pandey
Smt. Madhu Bhaduri
Shri Manish Sisodia
Shri Rakesh Agarwal	           
Km. Santosh

One Response to “RTI ACT :: Meeting with President”

  1. Antibush said

    Bush and the Republicans were not protecting us on 9-11, and we aren’t a lot safer now. We may be more afraid due to george bush, but are we safer? Being fearful does not necessarily make one safer. Fear can cause people to hide and cower. What do you think? Is killing thousands of innocent civilians okay when you are doing a little government makeover?
    Our country is in debt until forever, we don’t have jobs, and we live in fear. We have invaded a country and been responsible for thousands of deaths.
    The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

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