Vadodara, March 21 A year after M S University authorities were fined for 'lack of sincerity'' in implementing the Right to Information (RTI) Act in its offices, the RTI cell is yet to start functioning autonomously in the varsity. The state government is yet to institutionalise the cell. However, with growing awareness about RTI in the university, applications seeking information on various university departments have also increased.
The deputy registrar of the RTI cell, S M Beedkar, said that students and faculty members have filed 20 applications in the academic year, 2007-08. He added that unlike last year, when the MSU Registrar and then Public Information Officer, A V Gupta, was fined Rs 15,000 by the State Information Commission in connection with the three cases filed against the university authorities, the cases were much simpler. He said that on many occasions, the applicants had misused the RTI Act. "We have received many complaints, where the applicants only wanted to settle personal scores," said Beedkar. The RTI cell is currently functioning with six members He said, "After the state government grants autonomy, we would start recruiting more people for the cell."
University officials refused to divulge information about the applications, stating that the matters were still sub-judice. University sources added that most of the 20 applications were filed at the beginning of the academic session. According to the orders of the State Information Commission, the status of the RTI applications pending before the RTI cell should to be reviewed every month by the Vice-Chancellor to ensure timely furnishing of the information to the applicants.
Meanwhile, president of the Baroda University Teachers' Association, I I Pandya said that the role of the authorities ought to be monitored through the RTI Act. "On many occasions, teachers do not come forward and file applications, as the authorities may not promote or appoint them to senior posts," Pandya said.
"With the autonomy of the RTI cell, one can file applications to find how certain teachers can be appointed without necessary qualifications," he added.