RTI Act turns out a 'good samaritan'

AS Reported in Merinews

THE UPA Government has hailed it as its landmark achievement. This legislation has led to so much churning in the bureaucracy and ensured openness and transparency that the vested interests have been shaken but the public is not complaining..
CJ: merinews network , 15 hours ago Views:88 Comments:0
GOING BY the impact of the Right to Information Act (RTI), it seems that the legislation has worked effectively across the country, bringing relief to a large number of people, says a Press Information Bureau (PIB) report.

Thanks to RTI Act, thousands of Indian Railway pensioners will at last get their outstanding dues. Indian Railway Pensioners Association of Western Railway, over the years, submitted hundreds of representations to GM Western Railway to get the payment in these cases. 137 specific cases of non-payment were filed in the pension adalat but nothing happened. On March 16, a request under RTI Act was submitted for disclosing the reasons for not implementing the judgment of the apex court. Now things started moving. The authorities accepted the liability for making payment and all the divisions were advised to take immediate steps for making the payment.

The pensioners, in the twilight hours of their lives, can also use RTI Act and get the entire working sheet regarding calculation of pension. This can be verified to point out any error in calculation of pension and gratuity.

Another noteworthy case relates to problems faced by MTNL subscribers in Mumbai. Even after surrendering their phones, they have had to wait for months and years to get the refund of their deposit. Moreover, MTNL did not pay the interest accrued on the deposit to its subscribers. But the Right to Information Act (RTI) came to their rescue after one such harassed subscriber in Mumbai used the Act to get his interest accrued on the refund within 20 days of filing the RTI query.

Kishore Chitalia, a Santacruz resident, said, I must have made at least 50 calls, but I always got an answer that the matter is under process, he said. Ultimately, in January this year, Chitalia received the deposit refund cheque of Rs 3,000, but he realised that they had not paid any interest for keeping his amount in their kitty for nine months.

A few weeks later, he filed an RTI query on the issue and soon
got a cheque for the accrued interest.
But the right to seek information from a public authority is not absolute. Sections 8 and 9 of the Act enumerate the categories of information which are exempt from disclosure. At the same time Schedule II of the Act contains the names of the intelligence and security organisations, which are exempt from the purview of the Act. The exemption of the organisations, however, does not cover supply of information relating to allegations of corruption and human rights violations.