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Thread: CIC seeks change of Govt officials' attitude

  1. #1
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    CIC seeks change of Govt officials' attitude


    CIC seeks change of Govt officials' attitude

    CIC seeks change of Govt officials' attitude
    Pioneer News Service | New Delhi
    They resent public demand for 'too much' information for 'too less' a fee: Report

    The first annual report of Central Information Commission (CIC), the final appellate body for the Right to Information (RTI) Act, has sought a change in the attitude of Government officials for better implementation.

    The report, which was tabled in the Monsoon Session of Parliament and would be released at a conference of State Information Commissioners on Tuesday, says that Government servants think that they have a monopoly over records.

    Calling for a change of mindset amongst officials in effectively implementing the RTI Act, the Commission has observed: "An attitudinal change is needed among public officials who still believe that they have a monopoly over records and resent the public demand for 'too much' information for 'too less' a fee."

    The report points out that several departments and Ministries, including Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), UPSC, CBI, have sought exemption from the Act. "The Supreme Court (Ministry of Law and Justice) has sought exemption from the Act for any information, which, in the opinion of the Chief Justice or his nominee, may adversely affect or interfere or tend to interfere with independence of judiciary or administration of justice," the annual report has said.

    Similarly CBI, UPSC and DMRC have also sought exemption from coming under the purview of the Act on one ground or another. The CBI has wished that it be included in the Second Schedule of the RTI Act, which grants immunity to intelligence and security organisations of the country. Organisations under the Second Schedule of the Act are not obliged to provide any information to applicant unless they (information) belong to corruption or human rights violation cases.

    While the UPSC has asked for exemption from disclosure of information relating to examination and recruitment cases, the DMRC have sought total exemption from the provisions of the Act. The DMRC feels that it has a very tight schedule for Phase II and future phases and handling RTI applications would unnecessarily burn it with administrative work.

    Apart from the exemptions sought, the 2005-2006 report also finds a host of suggestions made by public authorities. Consumer Affairs, Health and Family Welfare, and Mines Ministries amongst others, have suggested that fees charged under the RTI Act be increased in case the information sought covers large periods of time and is not in a format as maintained by the offices.

    Concerned over the growing 'misuse' of the transparency law, public sector undertakings (PSUs) - Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and DMRC - have called for putting up adequate safeguards in this regard. Some other offices have expressed concern over their lack of proper infrastructure in catering to timely disbursal of information.

    National Buildings Construction Corporation Limited (NBCC), which is under the Urban Development Ministry, has suggested that the RTI Act also bring within its ambit the private sector, in failure of which PSUs should also be granted exemption from complying with the Act.

    The Pioneer > Home



  2. #2
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    Re: CIC seeks change of Govt officials' attitude


    How come there is no feedback in the report from users of RTI ?
    The CIC report should not only contain views of the PA's.
    Does anyone know if the views of RTI Activists and Cirizens were taken ?

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    Re: CIC seeks change of Govt officials' attitude


    The CIC is in possession of cityzen's views on all vital aspects. But those aspects are not seen included in the agenda. We have to wait and see whether those views of the cityzens were conhsiderd or not.
    The CIC is not very correct in appreciatiing the reason for the PIOs reluctance to part with information. There is absolutely nothing wrong with their mind set. They do give innoscent unharmful information easily. They are reluctant to part with only those part of the information which are likely to expose corruption of the PIO or their collegues or politicians of their interest. The Architect of the RTIAct appears fully aware of theis problem and has made the PIO directly responsible. Unless the penalty clause and Section 20(2) of theAct is liberally used the cituation is notlikely to change.
    Last edited by colnrkurup; 17-10-07 at 02:19 PM.

  4. Re: CIC seeks change of Govt officials' attitude



    Success of RTI demands change in ‘attitude’ of public authorities

    ‘Democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed’ - The preamble of the RTI Act says. Apparently, the very purpose of enacting the Right To Information Act is to provide as much information in the custody of “governing authority” to the “governed” so that the transparency of information and the accountability to the governed are served in a democratic set up.

    People cannot express themselves and perform their fundamental duties unless they know what’s happening in the systems that govern them. Therefore “Right To Information” is being reckoned as part of “Freedom of Expression” under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution. “Freedom of Information” will be guaranteed only when there is a free flow of information within a democratic set up. That is why section 4(2) of the RTI Act says explicitly that “it shall be the constant endeavor of every public authority to provide as much information suo moto to the public at regular intervals through various means of communication, including internet, so that the public shall have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information”. Eventually the Act should become a redundant tool.

    Tax payers are the masters in a democratic system and hence they have all the authority to know how the government bodies and public authorities, meant to serve them, are functioning. RTI Act envisages a change of mindset from maintenance of Official Information in Secret to “Maximum Voluntary disclosure” of information. However, it has been observed that the public authorities are still hesitant to part with the information under their control.

    Central Information Commission Decision File No. CIC/AT/A/2006/00045 dated 21st April 2006 is being misinterpreted by many public authorities as a commandment to deny the information on all RTI queries prefixed with “why”, “what”, “whether” or “how” as if these words are “aliens” to RTI Statute. Why a “public authority” should “feel offended” when questions are asked to ensure the “accountability” to the “governed”? Is it that the “governed” (the masters in “Democracy”) have no right to question the “governing authority”? How will the “accountability” be ensured otherwise?

    Well, I don’t agree with the arguments by many ‘bureaucrats” that the “information” given under RTI Act will be misused. Only authenticated information is given under RTI Act. No genuine “public servant” (of course He/She has to be a “public servant” in letter and spirit) is going to be blackmailed using an “authenticated information”. On the other hand RTI Act should be a deterrent to “wrong doing”.

    “Corruption” and “Mismanagement” can be “exposed” and “uprooted” only if authenticated information is available. All the other mechanisms like “Central Vigilance Commission”, CBI, Anti-corruption wings etc would fail if “government authorities” and “officials” are allowed to use their legal expertise to interpret the provisions of a legislation meant for the common man. RTI Act and Information Commissions shall not be made a paradise of “Lawyers”.

    To cite another Example, CIC Decision on Appeal 20/IC(A)/2006 dated 29th March 2006 is being interpreted by many public authorities to say that RTI Act is meant for supplying copy of documents or records kept in the Office. If that is the case, then there is no need to define “information” and “records” separately in the RTI Act. Any one who reads the “Preamble of the RTI Act” with a “positive attitude” would agree that there is no need for even defining the term “information”. Every “information” is an “information under RTI Act” also.

    RTI Act mandates that the Public Information Officer (PIO) shall clearly state whether the denial of information is because it is “not an information” within the meaning of the Act or because the information falls under Section 8(1) or Section 9 of the Act. Such explicit statement by PIO will be justified only if he explains the logic and reasons behind the decision. PIO may quote any decision of the Information Commission only to the extent of supporting his logic for denial of information, since each decision of the Information Commission pertains to a particular issue or circumstance (And not as a General case). That is why the Information Commission explains the background of every decision - I understand

    “Governing authority” can be held “accountable” only if “transparency” of “information” is ensured. Incase the requested information is not available, a clear statement to that respect shall be provided by PIO to enable the information seeker to resort to other mechanisms in the democratic set up. If the public authority informs that the “information is not available”, then citizens will react through the democratic mechanisms including “fourth estate”. It is also imperative how the Union Government is going to implement “E-Governance” mooted by Sixth Pay Commission without establishing “transparency” in “public authorities”.

    In 1989, then Prime Minister Mr. V.P. Singh told “In the recent past we have witnessed many distortions in our information system. The veil of secrecy was lowered many a time not in the interest of national security, but to shield the guilty, vested interests or gross errors of judgments. Therefore the National Front Government has decided to make the ‘Right to Information’ a Fundamental Right.”

    It is quite painful that public authorities are still playing tricks to deny vital information by rhetoric arguments and the legal jargons. This “attitude” of the public authorities will defeat the very purpose of enacting the Right To Information Act. We know that the provisions of Section 4(1) (b) had to be complied by all the public authorities on or before 12th October 2005. Even today many of the public authorities have not made those information available (Because they were protected from asking questions by the “governed”). If they are kept shielded from facing genuine questions of the “governed” (masters in Democracy), I fear that RTI Act also would fail like what happened to “The Public Records Act, 1993″

    There are only two issues to be considered by the public authority in every RTI Request – a) whether the information is available b) whether the information is givable. It is not the headache of the public authority to investigate why the information has been sought, says Section 6(2) of RTI Act. So any information available to and accessible by PIO shall be provided if such requested information exists in a “form”, say electronic, print, manuscript, file note, magnetic storage etc. Otherwise PIO shall explicitly state that the “information” is not available. But it is also important to say when they would make it available.

    It is the “attitude” of the public authority that has to change. Democracy should empower the weakest. RTI is a tool for that.

    R.S. Praveen Raj
    Scientist - IP Management & Technology Transfer
    National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science & Technology (NIIST),
    (Formerly RRL, Trivandrum), Industrial Estate P.O., Pappanamcode,
    Thiruvananthapuram – 695 019.

    (external link removed)
    Last edited by ganpat1956; 13-09-09 at 10:13 PM.

  5. Re: CIC seeks change of Govt officials' attitude


    CIC needs change in attitude of its staff and ICs also.
    It takes each of us to make difference for all of us.

  6. #6
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    Re: CIC seeks change of Govt officials' attitude


    Quote Originally Posted by jps50 View Post
    CIC needs change in attitude of its staff and ICs also.
    Over the years, I have visited CIC several times but during the last visit in first week of September 2009, there seemed to be a change in attitude - for the better. The staff were more responsive and some IC's also listened patiently. Even the staff at the "inward" section were polite and insisted that I get two "received" stamps on a copy that I had to submit.
    Twitter: @cjkarira

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    Re: CIC seeks change of Govt officials' attitude


    Quote Originally Posted by karira View Post
    Over the years, I have visited CIC several times but during the last visit in first week of September 2009, there seemed to be a change in attitude - for the better. The staff were more responsive and some IC's also listened patiently. Even the staff at the "inward" section were polite and insisted that I get two "received" stamps on a copy that I had to submit.
    I wish this changed attitude is transformed into positive "results".

    Results means more and more applicants are getting the legitimate information within prescribed time limit.

    Results means erring PIOs/FAAs start being afraid of malafidely denying the information.

    Results means people stop loosing faith in the RTI Act.

    I am not pessimist. Since the attitude has changed for better the results will follow.



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