Ahmedabad, May 23 PIOs asked to maintain a file on the information being sought, specifically on government officials, services While the Right to Information (RTI) Act as enacted does not seek to categorise the information seekers, the Gujarat government, however, has ensured that the Public Information Officers (PIOs) of various departments maintain a dossier of the various categories of people seeking information.
Also, the PIOs have been asked to maintain a file of the kind of information being sought by the citizens through the Act, specifically on government officials and employees, and services.
In the quarterly report format prepared by the State General Administration Department (GAD) for the PIOs, the information seekers have been divided into three categories, viz. people from below poverty line (BPL), NGOs and others. Not only that, the format also seeks details on the number of positive, negative and quasi-positive disposal of RTI applications by the PIOs.
Interestingly, the Act in its original form only seeks the number of requests made to each public authority, decisions taken on them, the number of appeals referred to the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, with their outcome; disciplinary action taken against any officer; the amount of charges collected by each public authority under this Act, any facts which indicate an effort by the public authorities to administer and implement the spirit and intention of this Act as a part of the annual report to be prepared by the state.
It also seeks recommendations for reform, including recommendations in respect of the particular public authorities, for the development, improvement, modernisation, reform or amendment to this Act or other legislation or common law or any other matter relevant for operationalising the right to access information.
State Information Commissioner RN Das opined that going by the Act, there exist only two categories of applicants from RTI perspective ó the BPL and non-BPL. "While the BPL applicants don't have to pay anything for their applications, the rest will have to pay the fee," Das said. He, however, added that while he is unaware of such a format designed by he GAD, such categorisation may have been done for the internal purpose of the state government.
It is a positive step from GAD :
1. It may help in assimilating data on problem areas in government.
2. It will provide data on grievances sorting out mechanism in departmental herarchy.
3.It will provide data on who are the maximum sufferers due lack of information and on what areas/departments/subjecs etc.
4.It will provide a measure of PIOs attitute-positive,negative,passtime-chalta hai type.
5.It may usher in more transparency , empathy and may be positive energy in working of PIOs ,AAs etc.
It is ,indeed ,a very positive and bold step to bring about reforms in govt machinery and attitudes of PAs and subordinates . A result of sincere BHAGIDARI between RTI Activists(activists include everyone who provided inputs) on one side and eager to listen and improve Govt on the other side.