We have often been discussing the issue of imparting training to the cityzens on RTI Act presuming that the CIC/SICs cannot err and are beyond the need for any training. But experience show that the cityzens generally possess the functional knowledge and some of our Hon'ble Commissions lack even the basic knowledge on RTI Act. Here is a typical extract from a State Information Commissions Orders No.AP.375/2007/SIC dated 12 November 2007:
1. ".......was the appellant, and it was for him to state his case, prosecute the same before the Commission "
2. "There was no public interests involved in the ever so many petitions, requests, complaints and appeals received from ......." (Here, the orders imply that only public interests cases will be enterined by thecommission)
3." The appellant ...... was summoned to appear before the Commission to substantiate his case". (The learned Hon'ble State Information Commission could not understand the main difference of RTI Act from other enactment is its Section 19(5) which state that "In any appeal proceedings, the onus to prove that a denial of a request was justified shall be on the PIO who denied the request" and the appellant does not have to substantiate his request for information.
4. "The appellant himself had availed of an opportunity u/s 19(1) of the RTI Act preferring a first appeal before the appellate authority viz.,Principal Secretary,Revenue. Having availed of a legal remedy u/s 19(1) , the scheme of the RTI Act does not permit one to prefer a complaint u/s 18(1)(c) before the SIC. Therefore thecommission with its inherent power had entertained the complaint as the Second appeal." Here, following lack any legal backing:
(a) When the PIO does not furnish a reply, it is deemed to have refused the request in terms of Section 7(2). Though one is at liberty to prefer a complaint under Section 18(1)(c) to the SIC, is it better to report this to the PIO's superior authority viz., his AA. The only means is to file a first appeal under Section 19(1). When the AA also deemed to have refused the request does the appellant is considered as availed of all the legal remedy ? Does the case become Resjudicata ? Is there any provision in RTI Act that forbid an appellant from making a complaint underSection 18(1)(c) to the SIC when he does not received any reply from the PIO and AA after making a request followed by first appeal ?
(b) Hs theSIC has any inhewrant power to try a case in a different clause than one petetioned. ie., Has the SIC any inherant power to convr suo motu unlawfully a complaint under 18(1)(c) into a Second appeal under 19(3) ?
(c) Does a first appeal bar a complaint under 18(1)(c) ?
5."The remarks of the PIO was called for. A detailed report of the actions taken were furnished by the PIO (only to the SIC)." The complaint was that the appellant had asked for the information of "Action taken on a particular report". The PIO having furnished the information asked by the appellant to the SIC, what stop the SIC from either providing this to the appellant or order the PIO to provide its copy to the appellant also and close the case. Instead, the SIC suppressess the information provided to him by the PIO and does the above somersault and dismissess the complaint without providing the information. How can the SIC with hold the information and ensure that the appellant does not get the information under RTI Act by dismissing the complaint ? Of cource the reason is that the information if disclosed will expose corruption and cause loss of land worth Rs.15 crores to cedrtain vested interest causing the above loss to government. The PI, AA and SIC was well aware of it.
Any suggestion to improve this cituation ?