It is a general argument with in the Government employees that the Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI) takes away their more productive time on just processing the RTI applications and providing information to the applicant who has sought the information under RTI Act. Similarly no training classes of RTI conclude in the absence of such queries like “Is there any mechanism to protect the public servant from Harassment?”

In broader sense, the RTI now a day’s became a dominating pressure creating workforce in the Government functionaries but it was not so before seven years and the current scenario prevails from Oct 2005, the effective date of implementation of RTI Act 2005.

When we raise the question about “why RTI is filed in Government departments?”, the first and foremost vital answer to get is that there exists some problem. The citizen now finds filing a RTI is a simple route to resolve their problem. In some cases the general public tries to get the information through the source of RTI and approach to the other available channels to resolve their problems. In most of the cases, grievances will be redressed on receipt of RTI applications.

In the other hand, the wastage of time in dealing with RTI is mainly due to the lack of Record Management. More time were spent to trace / locate the records which were not been located due to their own poor management record policy. Now this is the time to set right the records which not only easier to locate the information now but also will be useful in the near future to furnish the same when asked in RTI in an efficient manner even after 20 years.

To overcome the stress on RTI applications, the Public Information Officer (PIO) should deal the RTI application with little care instead passing down to the lower level subordinates, as normal paper been dealt. The PIO is expected to read the application full in DAK stage itself and the information sought is not pertains to the own Public Authority these can be transferred at that stage itself. Five days time limit has been provided to transfer the RTI to another Public Authorities which could be done within two days.

The next step is to locate the desired information and also to work out the cost of the same. If any assistance required from other officers under the same Public Authority, the same could be sought immediately. While seeking assistance from other officials / offices, the PIO should seek the specific information sought by the applicant. PIO also obtain the cost of the same information in order to inform to the applicant.

Instead, most of the PIO were just forwarding the application received from the applicant for further action and in some cases the PIO’s were directing other officials to furnish the information directly to the applicant. In this scenario, the PIO’s will be liable for facing show cause notices from Central Information Commission (CIC) in the first instance which creates a panic situation in the working place. The lapses by the defaulting officials will be treated as deemed PIO which is at par with the PIO by the CIC in later stage.

It is also noticed that the PIO’s were intimating the details about the cost of information in the fag end of the stipulated period of disposal (30 days). This leads a very meager time left with for taking huge copies as required in the RTI application and the fees paid. Thus it is advisable to keep a cushion of at least week long duration in hand to take photo copies & provide the information.

The yet another question in the minds of PIO’s is that: “Why 30 Days?; Why not more?” There is no specific reasons were made available for fixation of 30 days target time over the shoulders of PIO. It can be justified with the precedence of the times specified earlier.

To view the said justification, one has to travel in a time machine and move in a backward direction up to the period where Ramayana took place. There was a board meeting going on in the monkey’s kingdom. Several crucial Management decisions were arrived in that meeting. The main agenda of the meeting was to locate Sita.

The series of Managerial activities were decided are: a. Task Definition (To search & locate Sita) b. Identify the Team Leader (Hanuman has identified as Team Leader) c. Recourses to the Team Leader (Requires resources allocated to the Team Leader to perform the Task) d. Target time ( Only 30 days allowed). The 30 days time period was thought of sufficient in that era where the whereabouts of Sita was not known. The Team Leader also not fully aware of the identity of the Task. (Source: Kamba Ramayana)

While coming back to the RTI regime, the 30 days time has been provided to locate the information which is very well within the Public Authority and the Public Authority is fully aware of whereabouts the information. Thus the 30 days provision is fully justifiable in my view.

Hope this article may help to reduce the stress over the handling of RTI applications. If you need more details feel free to contact over mail in tnkdcealhw@gmail.com .

Why dis Infoveri?

The Kolaveri song became such a popular that crossed even the border of the nation. This song was translated (of course the simplest translation job) into most of the languages including Japanese, Korean, and Chinese etc. These topics were sufficiently discussed in many forums in several Media’s. Why the RTI field alone to stand away from the said trend? Now let’s through a light on “Why application filed under RTI?” in the same tune of Why dis Infoveri?

Obviously there must be at least a single reason to file an application for RTI. The burning issue is that such reasons were most commonly not liked by the Public Authorities. The best in RTI Act is that the information seeker need not give reason for seeking such information. In this critical situation the officials of public authorities breaking their heads while reading the RTI application in first instance & foreseeing the consequences which will come up on providing such information. Even otherwise nothing is wrong to attempt to guess the most possible reasons for seeking information by the Information Seeker.

The top most reason for RTI might be to know the process of any activity or functions of the Public Authority. Though the intention to know the process is correct, but at the same time the information seeker also supposed to know the process of RTI first, along with application methods, fee rule, appeal processing etc. Instead of consuming much time to learn about RTI, the seeker finds other means to know the process. Thus the grounds for this reason may not be more common in RTI application.
Another step of application is to know the reason for any jobs which were not materialized even after fulfilling all requirements. In this situation, the applicant force to seek the procedural requirement from the Public authority and compare the lapses if any made by him while clearing his job. Even in this case also, the applicant’s interest is to force the Public Authority to finish the pending issues. The applicant never deposit the cost of the information if his issue were cleared on submission of RTI & also just informing the dealing hand about the filing of such RTI.

To avoid such applications via RTI the Public Authorities to change their old mind set of secret governance to the transparent regiem. The Section 4 of the RTI Act provides space for informing & updating periodically the information pro actively. This Section expects every public authority to inform the procedure followed in the decision making process including channels of spevision & accountability and the norms set by it for the discharge of its function. By informing citizen such details as envisized in Section 4 of RTI Act, the burden of handling RTI might be reduced in large extent.

It is also an aother type of application whose main intention is to create stress in the officials in the Public Authority and get their work done or to resolve their grievances. Seeking such information mounting certain amount stress to the person involved with that information. Some of the employees prolonged with the sleepless nights on receipt of scuh application. Some other opts for voluntary retirement just to avoid such RTI problems. Training is the only medicice to cure such mental agony. Every public authority to give atleast one hour training to their all staff irrespective of Class & subject dealt. This training definitely enhance the handling capacity of RTI and also helps to create the system transparent way.

Yet another interesting type of application which was received from the same person for seeking varied information. The application made by professional RTI users, well framed, to the point and also with the exact wordings. If the Public Authority fails to give attention to these professionals they will followup till the receipt of information. They will not hesitate to go to the First Appeal and also drag the officials before Central Information Commission. Apart from getting information for the client these professionals will also seek penalty under Section 20 of RTI Act and claim for compensation too. Public Authoritties needs to give their attention on priority to such Professional RTI applicants. Some times it will be the process of learning by doing. On receipt on an application from such professionals the PIO will be tharough in all formalities from First appeal to Second appeal before CIC.

Some time serious information might be sought by the normal information seeker and a normal querries will be raised by professional Information seeker. Whatever may be the case, providing information is the primary job of the Public Authority irrespective of the gravity of the information seeker.

This article aiming to through light on various types of application in RTI. Also this focusing the imporatance to deal the RTI applications as early as possible within the stipulated time frame specified in the RTI Act.

For further clarifications and also if you need more details about RTI feel free to contact over mail in tnkdcealhw@gmail.com