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Thread: Let's see if this gets Indian Embassy in Washington to accept RTI Applications

  1. Let's see if this gets Indian Embassy in Washington to accept RTI Applications


    I just filed an RTI with the Indian Embassy to force it answer some nagging questions regarding its stubborn refusal to accept RTI applications meant for other departments within the Govt. of India. My earlier emails to the PIO / Appellate Authority seeking to clarify how NRIs could file RTI applications and pay the fees have not resulted in any response or even an acknowledgement of the receipt of such emails.

    I will keep the forum updated on the reply I receive.

    Here is a text of the letter:

    To
    Public Information Officer
    Mr. Rahul Chhabra
    Minister (Press, Information & Culture)
    Indian Embassy <st1 =""><st1:city w:st="on">Washington</st1:city> <st1:state w:st="on">DC</st1:state></st1>
    <o =""></o>
    Sub: Application under RTI Act 2005
    <o =""></o>
    Dear Sir,
    Please provide the following information pursuant to the RTI Act of 2005:
    <o =""></o>
    The Embassy of India in Washington DC has the following language on its website under the RTI section: “It may also be pointed out that as per section 6(1) (a) of the RTI Act, 2005, a person who desires to obtain information under the Act is required to submit the application to the Information Officer of the “concerned public authority”. Applicants are, therefore, advised to send their requests under the RTI Act to the Embassy only when the subject matter can reasonably be presumed to pertain to the Embassy. While section 6(3) provides for the transfer of an application by a receiving PIO to another [concerned] PIO, this is clearly meant to cover situations where the application is addressed to a PIO on the assumption that it has been directed to the concerned PIO. Where the information required obviously does not pertain to the Embassy, the application may be addressed to the concerned PIO directly. “
    <o =""></o>
    • Please provide the legal rationale or opinion from the Chief Information Commission / any other officer of the<st1 =""> Republic</st1> of<st1 =""> India</st1> that was used by the Indian Embassy in <st1 =""><st1:city w:st="on">Washington</st1:city> <st1:state w:st="on">DC</st1:state></st1> in putting up the language on its website in violation of literal reading of section 6(3) of the RTI Act of 2005.
    <o =""></o> <table class="MsoTableGrid" style="border: medium none ; border-collapse: collapse;" border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"> <tbody><tr style=""> <td style="border: 1pt solid windowtext; padding: 0in 5.4pt; width: 6.15in;" valign="top" width="590"> Section 6 (3):
    Where an application is made to a public authority requesting for an information,—
    (i) which is held by another public authority; or
    (ii) the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, the public authority, to which such application is made, shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer:
    Provided that the transfer of an application pursuant to this sub-section shall be made as soon as practicable but in no case later than five days from the date of receipt of the application.
    </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <o =""></o>
    • Please provide the name of the individual in the Embassy who interpreted the statute and provide the file notings of the said action.
    • Please provide the number of RTI applications filed at the Embassy during June and July 2007 and the number of these applications that the Embassy PIO did not forward to the PIOs concerned based on the Embassy’s above said interpretation.
    <o =""></o>Yours Sincerely,



  2. Re: Let's see if this gets Indian Embassy in Washington to accept RTI Applications


    That is a well-drafted RTI Application covering an important area of interpretation!!! Please do keep us informed of the subsequent developments.

  3. #3
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    Re: Let's see if this gets Indian Embassy in Washington to accept RTI Applications


    compuser1973,

    That is excellent work.
    Please permit me to use some parts of your RTI application.

  4. Re: Let's see if this gets Indian Embassy in Washington to accept RTI Applications



    Quote Originally Posted by karira View Post
    compuser1973,

    That is excellent work.
    Please permit me to use some parts of your RTI application.
    Thanks for the compliments. Feel free to use any part of the text...

  5. #5
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    Re: Let's see if this gets Indian Embassy in Washington to accept RTI Applications


    compuser1973,

    You got company. Please see this.

    NRI seeks info on SEZ under RTI Act
    Tuesday August 14 2007 13:04 IST
    HUBLI: A Non-Resident Indian from Hubli has filed an application with the Indian Embassy at Washington DC, USA, seeking information on the status of Karnataka Government’s decision on clearing the proposal of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Hubli under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

    Nagesh Tavargere, California-based techie, who launched the online campaign to make Hubli-Dharwad an IT destination, appraoched the Government under the RTI Act to know what actually the Government is doing to implement its decision. Ever since the government evinced interest to develop tier-2 cities in the State, Tavargere and his friends abroad from the twin city set a mission for the development of Hubli-Dharwad in all aspects. They had even submitted an online petition to the President of India requesting the President to include Hubli-Dharwad under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme. In the application submitted to the Public Information Officer at the Indian Embassy, Nagesh has stated that though the Cabinet of Karnataka gave its clearance for the SEZ by TCS Ltd on Aug 28, 2006, hardly has there been any progress in the pursuance of the said project.

    Nagesh has sought information on following specific information:

    What is the current status of the SEZ project granted to TCS, for Hubli-Dharwad?

    Has the Department of Commerce and Industries forwarded the file pertaining to SEZ project granted to TCS, in Hubli-Dharwad, to the Board of Approval (BoA) for SEZ?

    If the details of the project have not yet been submitted to the BoA SEZ, what is the reason for not submitting the same to Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry?

    Who is the bureaucratic authority responsible for the undue delay caused in this regard?

    If the same details have already been submitted to the BoA SEZ, I would like to have all the related details of such submission to the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

    If the details of the project have not yet been submitted to the BoA SEZ, what steps are being taken by the authorities, to expedite the process with a sense of urgency?



    NRI seeks info on SEZ under RTI Act - Newindpress.com

  6. Re: Let's see if this gets Indian Embassy in Washington to accept RTI Applications


    I was digging around the web to see if there was anyone facing similar troubles and came across this online petition about precisely this issue:
    AID - Petition to Indian Embassy on RTI

    Hopefully all these efforts will lead the Embassy to do the right thing....

  7. #7
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    Re: Let's see if this gets Indian Embassy in Washington to accept RTI Applications


    compuser1973,

    Just thinking a bit ahead, I am wondering what will happen if any matter under RTI (in relation to a Indian living abroad) finally reaches the CIC or a SIC. How can a citizen get a chance to "appear" before the CIC or SIC from 8000 miles away ?

  8. #8
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    Re: Let's see if this gets Indian Embassy in Washington to accept RTI Applications


    compuser1973,

    Please have a look at the following.
    These citations will help you in keeping your arguments ready for the future:

    1. https://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_12072006_2.pdf
    (respondent was the Presidential Secretariat)
    Section 6(3) requires the transfer of the application to the concerned public authority, not simply advice to the applicant to make a fresh application to that other authority. It is understandable that the DD would have been returned, because it was made in the name of Accounts Officer, President’s Secretariat and therefore, uncashable by the requisite public authority, although it would have been possible for the President’s Secretariat to encash the DD and transfer the funds, if required to the concerned Ministry. However, the application itself was required to be transferred under the law and not refused.

    2. https://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_08092006_4.pdf
    However, we find that even though the Directorate of Education has now
    indicated vide letter dated 21.6.06, a copy of which has been presented before
    us and is placed on record, that the applicant had been informed that the
    information be sought from MHRD, the Directorate of Education is in violation of Sec. 6(3)(i). Under this section when an application is made to a public authority requesting for an information –(i) which is held by another public authority or (ii) the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, the public authority, to which such application is made, “shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer;
    provided that the transfer of an application pursuant to the sub-section shall be made as soon as practicable but in no case later than five days from the date of receipt of the application.”
    Although there is no delay in responding to the initial application, even
    though the appellant has found the response inadequate, and whereas delay in transfer of application does not render respondent liable for imposition of penalty u/s 20(1), PIO Smt. Ritu Marwah, Dy. Director, is cautioned that in matters of this nature care be taken to ensure that action mandated by the Act is taken within time limits prescribed so as not to inconvenience applicants ..............The Receipt and Response procedure in
    the Department for applications under the RTI Act 2005, may therefore be
    streamlined suitably towards this end.


    3. https://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_23032007_05.pdf
    For the sake of clarity and after hearing respondents it is specifically directed as follows:
    i) When an application is received by the CPIO and found not to pertain
    to the public authority in which that CPIO is located this must be
    transferred within 5 days to the CPIO of the concerned authority under
    intimation to the applicant in accordance with Section 6 (3).
    ii) If on the other hand the information sought is found to pertain to a
    separate wing of the same public authority the CPIO receiving the
    information will seek the information required from the officer/ PIO
    dealing with the subject u/s 5 (4) and either (a) provide that information
    to the applicant or (b) direct the officer to whom it has been forwarded
    to so provide.


    4. https://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_15092006_5.pdf
    The Law & Prosecution Dep’t., UT of Chandigarh is in clear violation of sec. 6(3)(i) and (ii) which reads as follows :
    “(3) Where an application is made to a public authority
    requesting for an information –
    (i) Which is held by another public authority; or
    (ii) The subject matter of which is more closely connected
    with the functions of another public authority,
    the public authority, to which such application is made, shall
    transfer the application or such part of it, as may be appropriate to
    that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately
    about such transfer;
    Provided that the transfer of an application pursuant to this
    sub-section shall be made as soon as practicable but in no case
    later than five days from the date of receipt of the application.”
    In this case the public authority has neither transferred the application nor
    even informed the applicant of the need for such a transfer within the time limit specified in proviso (2) of the above section..........................
    However, the public authority in this case is cautioned that we have taken
    adverse note of the deliberate flouting of the law as described above despite this fact having been brought to their notice by the appellant.


    5. https://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_15052006.pdf
    (respondent was the PMO)
    “The PMO is indeed the repository of much information that concerns every
    Ministry/Department of the Government of India. Does this then make it the
    keeper of information as defined in Section 2(j)? In the normal course the
    PMO is authorized under Sec 6 (3) (ii) to transfer an application to a public
    authority more closely connected with the subject of the information sought.”
    However in the present case the transfer having made on 24/2/’06 is in
    violation of the proviso to Sec 6 (3) under which no more than five days from
    the date of receipt of application are permitted.


    Before examining the replies in regard to the queries, a decision needs to be taken regarding item No.7 in the RTI-request of the appellant / complainant. This query, according to CPIO & DCP (North West District), pertains to another CPIO, i.e. DCP (Vigilance). However, the CPIO & DCP (North West) failed to transfer the same to the CPIO & DCP (Vigilance) within the 5 days stipulated under Section 6(3)(ii) of the RTI Act. This is no doubt a mistake that should not have been allowed to occur and must be avoided in future, has been committed.

    7. https://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_12032007_19.pdf
    Even if it was the view of the DDUH that the information sought was concerning the subject matter more closely associated to the functions of another public authority it was the duty of DDUH to transfer the application to the appropriate authority in this case the DUTS u/s 6 (3) (ii).


    8. https://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_17082006_5.pdf
    Under section 6 (3)(i) of the Act, there is a provision for transfer of RTI
    application to the public authority, which is in possession of the information
    sought. The CPIO should have transferred the application to the appropriate
    public authority under intimation to the appellant. In this context, the CPIO has not acted properly as per the provisions of the Act.


    9. https://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_28022007_08.pdf
    The response of PIO Shri A.K. Sharma who is also Chief Law Officer of
    MCD is in complete violation of the law. If indeed the information sought by
    appellant is not in the possession of the MCD, it was incumbent upon the PIO to transfer the application to the public authority holding the information u/s 6(3)(i). This has not been done.


    We find that the information available with the DC Najafgarh Zone now stands provided with the initial response and subsequent response in compliance with the orders of the Appellate Authority. However, if some part of the information is not available with the particular PIO to whom application is made, it is the responsibility of the PIO either to transfer that information u/s 6(3) of the RTI Act if it concerns another public authority or, if it concerns another wing of the same public authority, obtain the information by seeking the assistance of the concerned official u/s 5(4).



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