RTI Officers have no respect for your time
AS reported by Subroto Roy in DNA on Friday, May 02, 2008

Atul Bagul, Pune University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) president and member of the University of Pune (UoP) senate, used the Right to Information Act, 2005, at least 20 times to obtain information relating to various issues at the UoP.

His experience showed that while the information he got was valuable for creating public awareness, the attitude of bureaucrats who serve as Appellate authorities in various government departments was negative.

While each government department has an information officer, a senior officer from that department, often, the head of the department, serves as the appellate authority. Thus, for example, at the Pune Municipal Corporation, while assistant engineer

Chandrashekhar Akware serves as the information officer under the RTI Act for the land and estate department, his senior, deputy municipal commissioner Suraj Mandare serves as the appellate authority.

Bagul said that most appellate authorities instead of respecting the spirit of the RTI Act, “try to prevent the information from going out”. This is compounded by the fact that there is an absence of penalties on erring authorities.

“There are penalties for public information officers, but you can’t do anything against commissioners who delay information. The authorities are also immune under the Act,” he said.
Pointing out to the positive aspects of the law, Bagul said that if one is tenacious, one can get valuable information.