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  1. #1
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    information commissioner cancels improper deal

    Information commissioner cancels improper deal
    AS reported by dinesh thite in D N A

    A pio giving money to an applicant is unacceptable, says vijay kuvalekar

    An improper agreement between a right to information (rti) applicant, a
    public information officer (pio) and a appellate officer for payment of
    expenses incurred on an rti appeal has been cancelled by the state
    information commissioner vijay kuvalekar.

    in order to dispose off thousands of pending rti appeals before the pune
    bench of the state information commission (sic), kuvalekar has started
    an innovative method by which an applicant and a pio as well as the
    appellate officer are brought together. the purpose is to bring about a
    reconciliation and the appeal is disposed off on the lines of
    loknyayalaya. during such camps, both the parties have to fill a form by
    which they have to make it clear whether they had reached a

    During such a special camp held in sangli on may 14, an appeal by
    sahadev zende (miraj district sangli) against the appellate authority i.
    e. sub- registrar, cooperative institutes, hatkanangale (district-
    kolhapur) and pio i. e. chairman of the primary teachers' credit
    cooperative society, vadgaon (district- kolhapur) was taken up for

    While scrutinising such forms filed during the camp, the sic, pune bench
    office found that the applicant, pio and the appellate authority had
    mentioned that they had reached an 'agreement'. they had also mentioned
    that 'rs.1500 was given to the applicant for appeal and other expenses.'
    kuvalekar has taken a serious note of this bizarre agreement and has
    recently issued an order against it. he has noted that a pio giving
    rs1500 to the applicant for expenses indirectly means that the pio has
    been fined. but the power to fine the pio for not following rti
    provisions was only with the information commissioner.

    He said in the order that reaching an agreement, in this manner by
    financial transaction, was improper. the sic had taken a serious note of
    this and cancelled the decision. he has ordered the applicant to return
    rs1500 to the pio and has asked both the parties to send a compliance
    report to the sic.

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  2. #2
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    Doing right thing

    Doing right thing

    As Reported by SUNANDA MEHTA June 16, 2008 at 04:03:54 in Express India

    There are many facets to State Information Commissioner Vijay
    Kuvalekar, other than his innovative measure of fast track courts to
    dispose off pending RTI appeals, now known as the 'Kuvalekar Pattern'
    For a man of his kind of diverse talents and formidable reputation,
    the laurels sit lightly on his persona. Unassuming, down-to-earth and
    equipped with not just complete knowledge of the field he is currently
    handling-the Right to Information Act-but also an astute sense of
    judgment of how best to make the Act more effective,
    Kuvalekar has more than shown his mettle as the state information
    commissioner in the last 16 odd months that he's been in office.

    Incidentally he is the only journalist in Maharashtra to have been
    chosen for this post.

    Actually I look at it as an extension of my journalistic work. The
    kind of journalism I practiced was bent towards the common man and
    even here my work is oriented towards bringing relief to the common
    man. The welcome difference though is that in journalism I could only
    bring into focus the various problems faced by the people but could
    not implement any kind of solution. Here I am able to not just suggest
    solutions but also take the decisions required to execute them ," says
    Kuvalekar who took over as state information commissioner in February
    2007. It took another six months for the old cases and appeals
    pertaining to the Pune region, that had been admitted in Mumbai, to be
    transferred to him. It was then that Kuvalekar realised the huge
    backlog of appeals that existed in Pune, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and
    Sholapur. Some were as old as two years.

    "The delay hampers the Act in two ways- if the appeals come up only
    after a year or two for hearing, the information almost always loses
    its relevance for the applicant. Secondly this also leads to a certain
    indifference in the official circles as they tend to feel that even if
    an appeal has been made, the process is so long that they need not
    give it immediate attention," says Kuvalekar, who after giving a lot
    of thought to the situation, took up the arduous task of writing to
    each of the parties involved in the pending appeals-the applicant, the
    public information officer and the appellate authority-in a bid to set
    into motion the process of addressing the pending issue.

    "I called all the three parties together and explained to them the
    situation and the need for speedy disposal of the pending cases. I
    prepared a form to be filled up by all three-if all of them agreed on
    the issue the case was to be disposed off there and then. If not, they
    would enter that in the form and we would take it further. In fact not
    all appeals even needed a hearing- this was decided on the merits of
    the case," explains Kuvalekar.

    Thus came into being the special appeal disposal programme set up by
    Kuvalekar where he first took up 278 pending appeals in chronological
    order in Pune, Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur and Sholapur . Of these, 197
    were cleared in two days. Encouraged by the response, Kuvalekar then
    held another fast track court in Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara whereby
    about 130 appeals were resolved. This pattern since then has become
    the hallmark of his way of functioning.

    Well known RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi has even titled it 'the Kuvalekar Pattern'. As recently as last week the commissioner further disposed off 205 appeals in Pune.

    My aim is to clear all the 3200 appeals pending in Pune region till
    April 2008 by September this year. With the backlog gone, I want to
    ensure that the pendency period for any appeal thereafter would not be
    more than two months," says Kuvalekar who admits though that there are
    still many challenges that obstruct the Act from reaching its

    "One is the misuse of the Act--people moving it for
    personal agendas or for asking irrelevant information. Like there was
    this person who asked a taluka level educational institution
    information on toilets built there in the last 40 years with the
    complete history of repairs-the information simply had no meaning.

    Then many people still haven't understood the nature of the Act. But
    perhaps the biggest challenge is changing the mentality of the
    officials who have not been used to being answerable to the public for
    the last 60 years," says the commissioner who has suggested an
    intensive training in RTI for all officials-from the PIOs to
    departmental heads in the government.

    Caught up as he is in unraveling the tangles of the cases with all
    their complications, one wonders if the former editor still manages to
    write anymore. Well, he does more than that. Kuvalekar has just
    completed a novel based on the life, sentiments and emotions of a
    teenage boy. Titled Aatle Abhal ( Inner Sky) it marks a change from
    his earlier books that mainly tackled political subjects. Having also
    dabbled in acting, courtesy the television serial on Veer Savarkar
    where he played the title role, Kuvalekar has also won accolades for
    the seven movies that he has written- the most famous being Raosaheb
    for which Kuvalekar received the national awards in four
    categories-story, screenplay, dialogues and lyrics- an achievement
    that has remained unmatched to date.

    And just what makes him handle all his diverse activities and
    commitments with such consummate ease? "Finding time is not the issue.
    All you need to have is the mental space for doing what you really
    want to do-and everything falls into place,'' says the 56-year old
    commissioner who certainly seems to have found his inner sky in life.

    Doing right thing - ExpressIndia.Com

  3. #3
    J.P. SHAH
    Blog Entries
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    Re: information commissioner cancels improper deal

    Let us hope, majority of ICs adopt Kuvalekar pattern or even RN Das [Gujarat SCIC] pattern for path breaking decisions.
    It takes each of us to make difference for all of us.

  4. #4
    C J Karira
    Blog Entries
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    Re: information commissioner cancels improper deal

    As reported by Dinesh Thite in DNA on 5 July 2008:
    DNA E-Paper - Daily News & Analysis -Mumbai,India

    SIC warns RTI applicant

    Asks him to refund the money he took from a PIO

    The Pune bench of State Information Commission (SIC) has warned a Right
    to Information (RTI) applicant from Sangli that it would initiate action
    if he failed to refund the money he took from a Public Information
    Officer (PIO).

    Deputy Secretary of State Information Commission Ravindra Jagtap, in a
    letter to Sahdev Ramchandra Zende of Miraj in Sangli, had ordered him to
    refund Rs. 1,500 to the officer. Jagtap also asked both of them to inform
    in writing about the compliance.

    Apparently, Zende had failed to refund the amount even after the
    commission's order, which according to Jagtap was a serious issue.
    "He should return the money and send the compliance report to the
    commission, otherwise action would be taken," he said.

    In order to dispose off the pending RTI appeals, Information
    Commissioner Vijay Kuvalekar had found an innovative method, wherein the
    applicant, the PIO as well as Appellate officer were brought together to
    reach a reconciliation. during such camps, both the parties have to file
    a form and state whether they had reached reconciliation.

    During one such special camp in Sangli in May, an appeal by Sahadev
    Zende against the appellate authority i.e. sub-registrar, cooperative
    institutes, Hatkanangale (Kolhapur) and the PIO, who is Chairman of the
    primary teachers' credit cooperative society, Vadgaon (Kolhapur) was
    taken up for reconciliation.

    While scrutinising forms filed during the camp, the Pune bench office
    found that the applicant, pio and the appellate authority had written
    that they had reached an 'agreement'. They had stated that Rs. 1,500 were
    given to the applicant for appeal and other expenses and he had
    subsequently withdrawn the appeal.

    Such an agreement is not allowed by the Commission.

    Kuvalekar had taken a serious note of this bizarre agreement and had
    issued an order on it. He had noted that a PIO giving money to the
    applicant for expenses indirectly meant that the PIO had been fined.


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