Over 2,200 RTI appeals pending

PUNE: More than 2,200 appeals addressed to the divisional appellate authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, are pending with the regional information officer in Pune division.
The cases pertain to appeals filed over the last two years by individuals and organisations under the act, which were not disposed of to the satisfaction of the applicants.

Disclosing this on Saturday, Vijay Kuvalekar, Maharashtra state information commissioner (Pune revenue division), called for faster disposal of cases at the lower level, as also for increase in the staff strength in the commissioner’s office. Kuvalekar’s office has jurisdiction over appeals under the act in the districts of Pune, Kolhapur, Solapur, Sangli and Satara, which comprises the area of Pune division.

Kuvalekar was speaking at a workshop on the act organised for students by the Pune chapter of the Public Concern for Governance Trust (PCGT) at the Police Sanskrutik Bhavan, Shivajinagar. The event was organised on the occasion of the completion of the second anniversary of Parliament’s implementation of the RTI Act.
“The Pune office has a sanctioned staff of 17 people, including two desk officers and three stenographers. However, we got a senior grade stenographer only in the first week of this month,” said Kuvalekar.

He mentioned instances during the first few months of the office’s existence when many official orders were written by him due to the absence of a full-time qualified stenographer. “I have had series of meetings with the chief minister and put forward some proposals for changing the layout of the office. Technical factors like ban on fresh recruitment and transfer rules create hindrances,” he said.
Without getting drawn into official reasons for delays, Kuvalekar suggested a more open process at the lower levels for furnishing information which will make appeals necessary only in extreme cases.

G B Deshmukh, former Union cabinet secretary and president of PCGT Pune chapter, termed the act as the means to achieving atransparent public governance. “It is not only a matter of securing information, but also utilising it for purposeful business,” he said.