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    RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe


    As reported by Ajay Khape in expressindia.com on 08 April 2008:
    RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe - ExpressIndia.Com

    RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe

    Pune, April 07 If the Right to Information (RTI) Act empowered citizens by providing a weapon to keep a check on the administration and bring in transparency in Government functioning, the flip side is the misuse of the Act. An individual has been identified seeking information under the RTI for commercial use and Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) has asked for a report in the 73 cases filed by him on behalf of different applicants. “The possible misuse of the RTI Act came to light on a report submitted by tehslidar of Haveli taluka and Appeal Authority for Haveli taluka. It was revealed that 73 applicants with different names had filed appeal with the commission and handwriting in the applications also matched,” Chief Information Commissioner (Pune division) Vijay Kuvalekar said.

    Doubts emerged after the Appeal Authority for Haveli taluka submitted during a hearing that an application has been filed with the common address not by the applicant, but a person, M N Patil, on behalf of the applicant, Kuvalekar said.

    The CIC directed the tehsildar Sanjeev Deshmukh to send notices to all the 73 applicants on the given address while requesting them to appear in person for the hearing and submit a detailed report.

    Deshmukh said he was receiving a lot of RTI appeals from the same address — in the name of various applicants, and that none of them appeared for the hearings.

    As per CIC’s directions, Deshmukh said he served notice on the applicants on the common address.

    Only two of the 73 applicants replied. It was revealed that Patil offered services like providing documents related to 7-by-12 extract to the applicant for cash and took signatures of clients on blank paper.

    The signed papers have been converted into RTI applications by Patil without the knowledge of his clients. Deshmukh said the documents, information sought through RTI Act is given to the client and if they are incomplete, then an appeal is filed.

    The inquiry further revealed that Patil was involved in a similar activity in Mulshi taluka. The appeal authority and tehsildar of Mulshi Avinash Shinde said, “We were fed up with the number of applications coming in from a common address seeking various information.”

    Suspecting foul play, Shinde asked the police to investigate the cases by verifying the identity of the applicants on the given address. The police have submitted a report that none of the applicants reside in the given address and a person named, M N Patil, is using the property. He has admitted to filing the RTI applications on behalf of various persons, he said.

    The CIC has expressed concern over the entire matter. “The commission is taking a serious note of it as the matter was serious and objectionable since it would encourage misuse of RTI Act,” Kuvalekar said.


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    Twitter: @cjkarira

  2. #2
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    Re: RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe


    A post by Mr Shahid Burney about his personal experiences with the PIO and AA of the Haveli Taluka:

    A front page lead report in the Pune Newsline of Indian Express, Pune, dated April 08, 2008 RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe exhibits the state of our new breed of journalists. The headline is incorrect, as Vijay Kuvalekar is one of the Information Commissioner and not the Chief Information Commissioner. This again shows the caliber of our young journalists and equally the irresponsible sub editors, who could not even correct the errors in the report.

    Well, the report lavishes praises on the tehsildar Sajeev Deshmukh and also the First Appellate Authority. It quotes the Information Commissioner as stating The possible misuse of the RTI Act came to light on a report submitted by tehslidar (correct tehsildar) of Haveli taluka and Appeal Authority of Haveli Taluka Vijay Kuvalekar, Chief Information Commissioner, Pune Division. (I do not know since when this post has been upgrade).

    Now a classic example of my case would show how capable and worthy are the said Tehsildar Sanjeev Deshmukh and the First Appellate Authority Tanaji Shinde, the Sub Divisional officer, Haveli and superior of the PIO Deshmukh.

    I filed a RTI application on 14 December 2007 with the PIO Deshmukh through the office of the SDO, Haveli, seeking information on the Anti Corruption traps and arrests of Talatis and Circle Officers in Haveli Division, as also how these people who were arrested twice were absorbed again in the same places and in the division without being transferred.

    The PIO did not respond and accordingly I filed First Appeal with the SDO Haveli Tanaji Shinde on 22 Janaury 2008. I waited and when the FAA also kept silent for nearly two months, I filed Second Appeal with Vijay Kuvalekar, the Information Commissioner on 13 March 2008. On the same day, I handed personally a copy of the Second Appeal to the office of the FAA for his information at 10.30 a.m.

    Here the FAA awoke up. And in the afternoon of 13 March he sent me a notice, dispatched by his office on 17 March and received by me on 20 March, directing me to attend for a hearing on March 24, 2008. Now one can see the mockery here, the FAA is asking me to attend a hearing in his Court when already the Second Appeal is filed with the Information Commissioner. This explains how good and learned are these officers. Both the PIO and the FAA kept mum for three months, perhaps to protect the corrupt.

    Anyhow, as a courtesy I visited the FAA on 24 March and put my written submission before him as also informed him that:

    1. The issuance of notice is without application and NRTI laws.
    2. The FAA has no jurisdiction or powers to issue notices for hearing once the Second Appeal is filed with the Information Commission.
    3. The notice is erroneous as the appellant is subject to hearing by an Appellate Authority and not to the SDO Court which is not related to the RTI Act.
    4. The FAA is not a quasi judicial officer under the RTI Act and cannot give intimation of deciding a appeal ex-parte like a Court, if the appellant is not present.
    5. Under Section 19 of the RTI Act, First Appeal has to be disposed off within 30 days from receipt of application and period extendable by 15 days if necessary.
    6. As per Section 7 (9) it is also a failure on the part of the FAA to provide information in the form it was asked. I clearly mentioned this as my application was in English, and the FAA replied in Marathi.
    7. As mentioned above, I told the FAA that as my Second appeal is already with the Information Commissioner, his actions were a mockery, null and void and that he had no jurisdiction to hear my appeal now.

    The FAA Tanaji Shinde was pleading to forget the past and that he was prepared to provide me the all the information the same evening (24 March) or maximum the next day. I said that it is upto him, but I would insist the Information Commission for penal action. Also the PIO was not present though he was asked to be present on 24 March, when I was called for hearing. As of today, neither I have heard from the FAA or his promise to provide the information, which has not arrived as of today.

    Its a sorry affair of the RTI and how buffoons we have in the saddle to execute the RTI. Well, I think, Vijay, who had been our colleague in the profession, would do a fine job. As Masterjis 66th birthday anniversary heralds on April 16, I think we would have reasons to march forward with his mission.

    Shahid
    Twitter: @cjkarira

  3. #3

    Re: RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe


    I fail to understand what misuse of RTI act is suspected in this whole affair as reported. If someone is helping some illiterate persons to make applications under the RTI Act, is it misuse? The insensitivity of the PIO and Appellate authorities is much more serious.

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    Re: RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe



    A news full of "sound and fury signifying nothing".Mr Patil is NOT an RTI Activist,and dont expect charity from him.He operates from a place(means cost),devotes his time (time means money),listening to people's requirements/grievances/complaints,uses his stationary(money again),writes applications on behalf of illiterate,poor,scared souls/ complainants/sufferers(services means money),delivers these applications to the respective(in this case crying and howling) PIO(transport plus service charges),gets replies,if not satisfied,files appeals and gets satisfactory answers.
    This Mr Patil is rendering a yeoman'services as far as RTI is concerned,Tehsildar is howling because he is being compelled to provide information under RTI.

  5. #5
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    Re: RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe


    These are manifestations of opposition in implementation of RTI Act. The pity is that the media become part of the game. Firstly there is no term as "Misuse of RTI". A mere asking for an information cannot be coined as misuse. If the applicant is not entitled for the information sought the PIO is at liberty to deny it. There is no limit on the number of applications one can make. After all the information is not asked free of cost. It is purely on commercial basis by making the prescribed payment. The CIC or SIC has absolutely no authority to direct the Tahsildar to summon the applicant for hering. I wish some of our Activists at that area take the chalenge and teach the Tahsildar a lesson..

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    Re: RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe


    Kurup,have sent,a few minutes back, emails to the editor Indian Express,and rebuttal on Ajay Khape's online article Wednesday Apr09,2008. Most of contents are as per your comments,and hope you grant permission for that ipso facto.Hope like hell,these people have moral courage to publish my email.I can send you a copy ,if you so desire,please give your email add. Mine:mehlwal....................
    Last edited by ganpat1956; 13-04-08 at 10:44 AM. Reason: Live email link deleted

  7. #7
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    Re: RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe


    opsharma,

    Please avoid putting any email id and phone numbers on the forum.
    The forum is visited by hundreds of "bots" (computer robots) daily to "snare" email id's and phone numbers.
    You will be bombarded with junk email and telemarketing calls.

    Just share them through PM.

    In case it is necessary to put these, you can try to beat the bots this way:

    mehwal at yahoo dot com OR nine eight three six two.........

    Putting publicly annouced email id's or phone numbers is OK. (Like email of a IC or a telephone number of PIO, etc.)
    Twitter: @cjkarira

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    Re: RTI Act being misused, CIC directs probe


    thanks,was looking to send across an attachment.thanks a million again.

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