Pune, May 29: THE information commissioner for Pune Region will soon initiate a district wise hearing drive for around 2000 appeals pending before its office, said Information Commissioner for Pune Region Vijay Kuvalekar during his lecture on ‘Right to Information — experiences and challenges’ organised by Surajya Sangharsha Samiti at Sardar Mahadeo Balwant Natu Auditorium at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan on Tuesday. “The appeals have piled up as we did not have a fixed office space. Now, with a new office available in the administration building opposite council hall, we will soon begin district wise hearing of the appeals on a priority basis in Kolhapur, Satara, Sangli and Solapur. Our office is closely scrutinising the appeals,” Kuvalekar said .
He further advised RTI activists to ensure that the act was not being used to settle personal scores. “One person’s democratic right should not encroach upon others. Every RTI applicant should use the act with utmost responsibility and seriousness,’’ he said.

Commenting on perception of bureaucracy vis-a-vis RTI applications, Kuvalekar opined that a majority of government officials choose to avoid giving correct answers to the queries posed and stressed the need for RTI activists to be vigilant all the time.
He further said that the act had played a significant role in empowering the masses and strengthening democracy. Commenting on the appeals procedure, Kuvalekar said that there was a need to investigate the cases where applicants had compromised with government officials before the appeal was decided. “Cases like this will have an adverse effect on implementation of the act. There is a need to create greater awareness amongst the public to use the act in its true spirit,’’ he said. The information commissioner further stressed the need to strengthen the act. “Remember that all government officials are not criminals and all applicants are not saints,” Kuvalekar said.

Over 2000 RTI appeals to be cleared soon