Meeting of RTI Activists and Lawyers in Hyderabad
<tt><tt>Just copying this from another forum.
I am writing this mail on behalf of Public Cause Research Foundation (A
Parivartan Inititative) and Human Rights Law Network for inviting RTI
activists from Andhra Pradesh for a meeting of RTI Activists of AP and
Lawyers to discuss about the problems we face in implementation of the
RTI Act and various wrong interpretation of the Act by the PIOs. The
meeting is scheduled for 02.03.2008 at Secunderabad (Hyderabad). The
venue of the meeting is HASSS Training Center Sangeet Road Opp. Oriental
The Act came into force on 12th Oct 2005, and ever since, the RTI
Activists across the country has started to work for its proper and
effective implementation. Drive against Bribes Campaign in collaboration with
media houses during 1st and 15th July 2006 was a very successful event
all across the country, in which more than 700 civil societies working
on RTI in different parts of the country participated.
In last two years, it is felt that the Public Information Officers in
different public offices are misinterpreting the exemption clause in the
RTI Act [section 8(1)] to deny information and the Information
Commissions are also upholding their decisions. Most of these denial decisions
are unjust and can easily be quashed, if we challenge it in High
Courts. Further, there are cases also where the Public Information Officers
are challenging the decisions of the Information Commissions in the
High Courts, if the Commissions direct them to provide information. In
both these cases, the applicant under RTI act, having no legal support,
faces difficulty in presenting his argument in the High Court. This is
also because that he is neither having the resources to go to the high
court nor he knows any lawyer / lawyer group who can handle such cases in
High Court. As a result, not only the side of the applicant remains
unrepresented, but the Act is interprated in a biased manner favouring
non disclosure. Thus the object of this legislation gets defeated.
There are other issues as well, that require immediate attention. Some
Information Commissions are so slow in disposing the appeals /
complaints filed under the RTI act that they are now facing huge pendency. For
example, in Maharashtra, approximately 11,000 appeals / complaints are
pending and with the current rate of disposal, if one appeal/ complaint
is fileds today in the commission, it would be heard after 3 years.
This defeats the very purpose of the Act and makes the Act almost dead.
The Act provides for appointing a maximum of 10 information commissions
in a commission, but this is not the solution to this problem. In UP,
despite the full strength of Information Commissioners in the state, the
pendency is still approximately 15,000 appeals / complaints. Similar
is the situation in Punjab, where there are also 10 information
commissioners. There is a need to change the approach of the commissioners and
to adopt certain changes in their functioning. We have to discuss and
find out ways for speedy disposal of the cases and approach the
commissioners to adopt these changes.
There are cases where despite clear voilation of the provisions of the
Act, the Information Commissions are not imposing any penalty on the
erring Public Information Officers. As a result, the PIOs are willfully
denying information and all such cases comes to the Information
Commission. As soon as the Information Commissions start imposing penalties,
the RTI functionaries will start working in a better manner and the
pendency in the commission will also fade away. In last two years, in
Central Information Commission, only 39 penalties were imposed and less than
10 have been realized. These are some very important areas and there is
a need to take a note of that as well. These cases are also required
to be challenged before the High Courts and get a direction from the
court to these commissions for imposing the penalties.
We, at Public Cause Research Foundation (A Parivartan Initiative) in
Delhi, are providing some legal support to the RTI Movement, but with a
very small number of advocates, we can not support the entire movement.
In this connection, HRLN has come forward to support the movement and
to take the cause of the movement to the courts. Thus, we are having
meetings in every HRLN office where the RTI Activists from different parts
of the state and lawyers from HRLN and other associates of HRLN can
talk on these issues and discuss future strategy for the same.
In Hyderabad meeting on 02.03.2008, we plan to start this meeting by
10:00 am (with an introduction about the purpose & possible outcome of
the meeting, national level difficulties in implementation of the Act and
also interpretation of various provisions of the Act. I will be doing
this part along with HRLN Andhra Pradesh unit. This will be followed by
presentations by RTI Activists in the state on the difficulty in
implementation of the RTI Act and state specific issues. Please suggest the
persons, who can give a presentation on this issue. Then HRLN can also
give a presentation on the possible strategy for tackling these issues
and how cases in High Court can be filed under a strategy. After this
the discussion will start and as per the need of the house, the course
of discussion will be decided. But broadly, the issues will be-
arbitrary interpretation of section 8(.(1), non-imposition of penalty, large
number of pending appeals and complaints in the commission, functioning
of the Information Commission, High Court rules under RTI Act etc. The
participants can also bring in their own cases, which can also be
discussed and taken up for future action. This meeting will be more of a
discussion meeting than a presentation meeting. For more information, you
can contact Human Rights Law Network, House N0.1-9-31 2/5/2, Achyutreddy
Marg, Vidya Nagar Hyderabad – 500004 Andhra Pradesh or Ms.D.
Padmavathi, Advocate, HRLN on +919885392482 or at email@example.com. Please
also email us confirming your participation at firstname.lastname@example.org and to
me at email@example.com.
Please also forward this mail to other groups/ persons who can join us
in the meeting at Hyderabad.
Thanks and Regards!