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  1. #1
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    C J Karira
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    Too many Officers and Employees using RTI for grievance redressal


    In the below mentioned decision, CIC has observed that too many Civil Servants and Officers are using RTI for redressal of grievances:

    Quote:
    3. Before taking up the matter in this appeal, I feel constrained to highlight the fact that civil servants and employees of public authorities, of various hues, have found in the RTI Act a prolific avenue for the redressal of their grievances ― real or assumed. Commission has received petitions from employees of public authorities on such matters as implementation of Court and Tribunal orders, by the public authority; action taken on the petitions in service matters filed by the employees; demand for explanation about why an employee was transferred from one post to another; reasons why a public authority started any disciplinary proceeding against the employee; why was an employee not empanelled for promotion; and so on. Irrespective of the merit of such RTI-applications and irrespective of whether these are admissible under the RTI Act, the important point that emerges is that employees of the public authority are using the RTI Act to pressurize, brow-beat or harass the public authority in order to force them to take decisions or rescind a decision in respect of a certain employee. Such employees may or may not succeed in their endeavours, but the fact that they use the RTI Act in a given way shows that they are treating the Act as a means to stymie the disciplinary control of their superiors in the public authority. I'm not very sure if the Right to Information Act was meant to sub-serve such ends. It shall be a sad day if the provisions of this Act become a plaything in the hands of employees of public authorities. I will leave the matter flagged as it is. The last word in this regard has not yet been said, to be sure.
    Unquote

    The full decision can be read at:

    http://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_31052007_10.pdf

    I tend to agree to some extent with the CIC.
    In my short involvement with RTI (I started reading the Act for the first time only on 21st March 2007 !) I have been told by most of the PA's whom I visit in AP, that maximum applications are from Govt. Officers themselves.

    But, on the other hand, a Officer or a employee of the PA is also a "citizen" and thus has every right to apply for information under the RTI Act. Are they really exhausting all other means available under the rules to seek grievance redressal before resorting to the RTI Act ? I really don't know.
    Or, are they the "honest" officers who have been themselves harassed and cornered by others in the PA and therefore this is the last resort ?
    Probably some officers on this forum can also opine.

    In my personal case (I am no Officer):

    1. I use all possible means of solving a problem with a PA
    2. Failing this, RTI is used as a last option before legal option
    3. For civic matters like Roads, Water, Passport, etc...use
    RTI application directly because my experience shows that
    officers in these PA's just do not want to work and act on
    ordinary applications.
    4. Even if my problem is "solved" I diligently follow up on the RTI application
    to its logical conclusion.
    (Many others just stop if the problem is solved)
    5. Before filing a RTI application I have a clear thought as to what am
    I going to do with the information obtained
    (What is the point of getting information if I don't know what to do with
    it ?)
    6. For matters where "corruption" is involved , I use RTI straight away
    without even giving it a second thought.

    Just my two bits.

    Will be interesting to get opinions and experiences of others in this matter.


    › Find content similar to: Too many Officers and Employees using RTI for grievance redressal



  2. #2
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    Re: Too many Officers and Employees using RTI for grievance redressal


    Quote Originally Posted by karira View Post
    In the below mentioned decision, CIC has observed that too many Civil Servants and Officers are using RTI for redressal of grievances:

    Quote:
    3. Before taking up the matter in this appeal, I feel constrained to highlight the fact that civil servants and employees of public authorities, of various hues, have found in the RTI Act a prolific avenue for the redressal of their grievances ― real or assumed.Unquote

    Will be interesting to get opinions and experiences of others in this matter.
    I do not fully concur with the observations of the CIC. No doubt, there have been some stray cases of harassing the public authorities. But majority of the cases involve high handedness or favouritism of one sort or another. Why should a govt. employee spend Rs.10/- on an application and wait for 30 days to obtain the information to know about the way in which his personnel department is functioning.

    More number of cases from employees on service conditions is an indicator of the weak HR policies of the administration. If the colonial mindset or "holier than thou" attitude disappears from the hierarchy, then number of cases under RTI from the public servants themselves will be on the wane.

  3. #3
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    Re: Too many Officers and Employees using RTI for grievance redressal


    Please also see the following thread:

    http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/rti-ne....html#post3003

  4. #4
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    Re: Too many Officers and Employees using RTI for grievance redressal



    One more observation from CIC regarding Government employees seeking information for personal or promotional interest :

    CIC: Silly RTI pleas a burden


    New Delhi, June 24: Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked government employees to guard against "frivolous" RTI applications in their own offices to seek personal information. "A large number of government employees are seeking information for promotion of their personal interest.

    This is done on pretext of serving the public cause, without realising the extent of distortions that it causes in use of public resources due to putting up of frivolous applications by them for self-interest," information commissioner M.M. Ansari said.

    The CIC’s observations came in a recent order while disposing of the application of K.C. Vijayakumaran Nair, a chief post master general, who had sought from the department of posts information on the officer who had queried on his admission to a doctorate course.

    In a bid to discourage such RTI applications, it said "they (government officers) ought to exercise restraints in misusing the act, lest they should dilute the mandate of RTI Act to empower the common man." Underlining the objectives of the transparency legislation, it said "Under the RTI, the employees are not expected to question the decisions of the superior officers in the garb of seeking information."

    National News

  5. #5
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    `Babus main beneficiaries of RTI act`


    `Babus main beneficiaries of RTI act`

    <table class="TableClas" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td class="heading">
    </td></tr><tr><td height="11">
    </td></tr><tr><td class="byline">Q&A</td></tr><tr><td height="12">
    </td></tr><tr><td class="author">Aasha Khosa / New Delhi June 24, 2007</td></tr><tr><td height="4">
    </td></tr><tr><td style="background-image: url(/images/common/gn_005.gif); background-repeat: repeat-x;">
    </td></tr><tr><td height="9">
    </td></tr></tbody></table><table class="TableClas" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td>Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah talks to Aasha Khosa about the effectiveness of the RTI Act

    </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>The Central Information Commission (CIC) is being viewed as just another grievance redress cell in the government. It has hardly helped create a transparency revolution that the landmark RTI Act passed two years ago had promised.

    </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>Maybe expectations from the RTI Act were too high and hence the criticism. I don’t think the CIC has proved just a grievance redress cell. Actually, the premise on which the public perception of the RTI’s impact is based is that the government is not disclosing its secrets. Maybe there were not too many secrets to be dug out through the RTI, or maybe the secrets were not put into the information stream to be accessed through this landmark Act, but I still say that the Act has been very effective in some areas. For example, the majority of the applications moved under this Act are from the government officials who want to know why they did not get promotions or why others were promoted. It has generated transparency there. Another area where people are making use of this Act is in land allotments by the authorities like the Delhi Development Authority and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

    </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>One thing which must be made clear is that the RTI was never meant to be an anti-corruption legislation. But there have been complaints that the CIC is reluctant to impose penalties on the officials who do not give information to the applicants under the Act. People often come to me with these complaints. Some of them even want the CIC to file charge sheets against the erring officials. But this is not within the purview of the Act.

    </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>We have not only imposed financial penalties but also recovered 90 per cent of them from the officers. On an average, CIC is disposing of 500 cases per month. Again, I must say that the functioning of the Act is not alien to the governmental system. Earlier, information was readily available, but after paying a bribe. So the RTI Act has brought transparency in the functioning of the government. But people come and tell me that “kuch baat nahin bani (RTI is not quite effective)” because they were expecting the Act to be a potion for all the ills of the system.

    </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>What needs to be done to make the Act more effective and its usage universal? </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>The computerisation of government departments will be a final answer to all the ills. Currently, even if we computerise our office as we are doing, it would not help much as for every small piece of data I would have to ask for paper files lodged with other departments. In fact, this is the feedback from the appellate authority too — that all departments of the government should be computerised to make its functioning transparent and corruption-free.

    </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>The record of the states in implementing the RTI Act is not that satisfactory. Is that the reason why the Act has failed to create a nation-wide wave? </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>Bangalore has made headway in this. They have created RTI banks run by NGOs where the flow of applications under the Act is monitored. In a way, this serves the purpose of spreading the message. Maharashtra has also done well. Interestingly, West Bengal has made no headway. Orissa is not effective. Kerala is not moving much. Maybe states like Kerala, with a high literacy rate and political awareness, do not need to take recourse to RTI. Though Jammu and Kashmir had RTI before the national Act came into being, it remains a toothless instrument. There even the central government departments like the AG’s office, Doordarshan, All India Radio have not appointed information officers. But the security forces have done it.

    </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>Who have been the main beneficiaries of the Act? </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>The babus in the government. The majority of the applications that come to us are from officials. Everyone wants to check why they were denied promotions. I came across an interesting episode where one officer, who had been posted to Bihar while he was supposed to be replying to our notices on a complaint under the RTI, was denied permission to inspect the files. The system is so senseless and cruel. The officer had to approach the CIC for getting access to files. But the RTI has done one good thing to the government — it has made government realise its follies.

    </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>Your treatise on Kashmir, written in the US, got you into trouble. You were given all sorts of labels and everyone wondered how a Secretary with the Government of India could speak about ‘azadi’ for Kashmiris? </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>I was in the US when the Indian media was writing stories on my paper submitted to an American institute. Believe me, even I was expecting a lot of grilling once I reached home. But nothing of that sort happened. Not a single person approached me on this. The entire controversy fizzled out suddenly.

    </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>But do you believe that given a chance, people of Kashmir would opt out of India? </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>History tells that the people of Kashmir under Sheikh Abdullah were the most decisive in opting for India at the time of Partition. But today Kashmiris really have a problem like the people had in Punjab. We must try to help them get out of this as we did in Punjab.

    </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>You are very close to the Nehru-Gandhi family. People believe that you have been getting important positions in the government because of this link. </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>I don’t go and ask Madam Gandhi for a favour simply because I happened to be in the same school where her husband (Rajiv Gandhi) was. In fact, Sanjay Gandhi was a closer friend in school than Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv left for England and I saw more of Sanjay. Later, I worked with Rajiv when he was the prime minister. I personally admired his vision of India that was closer to my own. The vision was of India as a leading democracy in the world, a liberal economy, a congregation of diversities, liberal democratic country where Panchayati Raj prevailed, etc.

    </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>After Rajiv Gandhi’s death, you joined the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF). At that time, surely you must have interacted with Mrs Gandhi? </td></tr><tr><td height="5"></td></tr><tr><td>Yes, I helped her set up the RGF. I found her to be a very nice and sensitive person. Once when I was in the PMO, she visited Phulbani in Orissa along with her husband. The PM was introduced to two orphaned girls. She was so concerned about them that till a long time after that, she would keep inquiring about them. She would ask me whether I had checked up on those two girls. She used to accompany her husband in intense heat. She was never pushy. Not even when it came to interacting with us in the PMO. She always came across as an extremely modest and self-sufficient person.
    `Babus main beneficiaries of RTI act`

    </td></tr></tbody></table>

  6. #6
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    Bansheedhar Mishra
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    Re: Too many Officers and Employees using RTI for grievance redressal


    Quote Originally Posted by karira View Post
    One more observation from CIC regarding Government employees seeking information for personal or promotional interest :

    CIC: Silly RTI pleas a burden


    New Delhi, June 24: Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked government employees to guard against "frivolous" RTI applications in their own offices to seek personal information. "A large number of government employees are seeking information for promotion of their personal interest.

    This is done on pretext of serving the public cause, without realising the extent of distortions that it causes in use of public resources due to putting up of frivolous applications by them for self-interest," information commissioner M.M. Ansari said.

    The CIC’s observations came in a recent order while disposing of the application of K.C. Vijayakumaran Nair, a chief post master general, who had sought from the department of posts information on the officer who had queried on his admission to a doctorate course.

    In a bid to discourage such RTI applications, it said "they (government officers) ought to exercise restraints in misusing the act, lest they should dilute the mandate of RTI Act to empower the common man." Underlining the objectives of the transparency legislation, it said "Under the RTI, the employees are not expected to question the decisions of the superior officers in the garb of seeking information."

    National News
    "The employees are not expected to question the decisions of the superior officers". I do not subscribe to this view. An employee is also a common man and he has rights to know everything that affects his job, his dignity and his rights. Decisions of superior officers are not always right. I have been a victim of an IAS officer who did not have powers to initiate disciplinary action against me but he did so and nobody listened to my appeals. Recently by using RTI act I asked his superior to let me know if the said officer had powers to proceed against me and the answer was a compulsive NO. Whereas, I had been asking the same question since the year 2000 without even getting a response. How does some one face such situations without the help of RTI act?

  7. #7
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    Re: Too many Officers and Employees using RTI for grievance redressal


    After all man-maani of bosses should stop.chamchagiri should not yeild devidends. i dont see anything wrong if employees use rti to set things right. after all things must be set right .am i right ???
    RTI free of cost at http://www.indiapost.gov.in/rtimanual16a-1.html

  8. #8
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    Re: Too many Officers and Employees using RTI for grievance redressal


    As far as my personal experience goes, corrupt senior officers promote corrupt junior officers, and thus a continued lineage of corrupt officers is guaranteed by the system. Honest employees are pushed to the sides by denying them promotions, charge sheeting them for things they were not liable for and so on. We would not need things like RTI Act had the officers or government officials been honest in the first place. Thus I don't have any objection to people using RTI Act to get what they deserve.

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