Right to Information (RTI) – Aamjunta’s weapon in nation building

Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 came into force on 12th October 2005. It is an act extends to all govt. organizations including executive, judiciary and legislature and private organizations which are substantially funded by the govt., of the entire country except the state of Jammu and Kashmir, passed in the Parliament of Govt. of India. The aim of this act is numerous; to make the system transparent, to reduce corruption, to bring information to the ordinary citizens (AAmjunta 🙂) in the form of official records, proceedings, emails, circulars, govt. orders etc., and to give power to the common man who is the root of Indian democratic system through fundamental rights.

RTI can be used to speed up the process, to make the system work as per the rules, to bring transparency into the system, to inspect any govt. work, to make officials more accountable. It is an integral and essential part of nation building. In this post we have described the basics of RTI.

How to get the desired information?

The process of getting information under RTI is broadly divided into 3 parts.

1. The applicant should prepare the questionnaire in English/Hindi and prepare the application on plain paper. (Some organizations have specific application format and are available on their website.) The applicant should mention (a) his/her complete address for communication, (b) the information desired in the form of questions (reason for asking questions are optional), and (c) should mention whether he/she is under below poverty line (BPL) in the application.

2. The application can be submitted in person or through post to the Public Information Officers (PIOs) of the organization. Every organization comes under the purview of RTI act appoints (PIO) to provide information to the applications received under RTI. To discharge the duties under RTI, PIOs can ask for assistance from any officer, who has to render all desired assistance.

If the applicant is not under BPL, then the RTI applications should carry a prescribed application fee (minimum Rs. 10/- ), otherwise there is an exemption in application fee. The fees can be paid through Indian Postal Orders, Money Orders, Demand Drafts or through even cash payment. If any further fee is required, then the same will be intimated to the applicant in writing by the PIO.

3. After receiving the application, the PIOs should provide the desired information in writing or in any desired form viz., CD/floppy/disk within a specified time limit.

The time limit for giving the information under RTI is 30 days from the date of application and is 48 hours for information concerning the life and liberty of a person. The maximum response time is 35 days, in-case the application for information is submitted to Assistant Public Information Officers (APIO), is extended to 40 days in-case of any third party is involved in the process and 45 days in-case of human rights violation information is desired. Failure to provide information within the specified period is deemed refusal.

The penalties for not providing information or un-necessary delay in information is Rs. 250/- per day and up-to Rs. 25,000/-. For illegitimate refusal to accept application, malafide denial, knowingly providing false information, destruction of information, etc., the penalty is up to Rs. 25,000/-. There will be a recommendation for departmental action for persistent or serious violations. However, denial of information is not a criminal liability.

What to do if the information received is not satisfactory?

If the information received is not satisfactory, then the applicant can appeal within a specified time period (around 30 days) to the 1st appellate authority (officers of senior rank to PIOs or designated officers) of that organization. All appeals are free of cost (some state governments have prescribed a fee). If the applicant does not receive information even after the first appeal then he/she can take the matter forward to the second appeal stage.

Comments

RTI should not be used to harass or blackmail any public officer. Similarly, the public officers should not harass the applicant for filing RTI application. In both the cases, law of the state will take care. RTI should be used with right spirit and to build the nation, not to destroy.

Jai Hind.

PS: We would like to thank Mr. Shailesh Gandhi, who taught us about RTI and who has encouraged us to file RTI applications. To know more about RTI, kindly visit http://www.satyamevajayate.info

Aamjunta of R. K. Laxman: is it relevant now?

Famous cartoonist R. K. Raxman created “The Common Man” through his daily cartoons “You Said It” of the Times of India some time in 1951. It is a comic character and represents the omnipresent observer of Govt., acts, organizations, famine, growth, debate, deals, etc. It is a background character, an average citizen and is a silent witness to every thing that is happening in this world. More than half a century has passed since the “The Common Man” was created. The political equations, the economic scenario, the socio cultural life have changed; more than a dozen prime ministers have ruled the country; blood baths, terrorism, riots have shaken the common man’s faith.

With so much changes, do we want the “The Common Man” to be silent? Is that background character relevant in the rapidly changing world? Don’t we think the common man should react to the anomalies? Don’t we think the common man should take the responsibilities to build a nation of its interest? It is up the common man, the aamjunta, the junta janardan to decide. It will be too late if we don’t act now. Some one has to start, else there will be an infinite waiting time.

It is the time for aamjunta to act now 🙂

Aamjunta starts speaking

Yes… Aamjunta starts speaking. It’s a small baby now in blogging. Like a baby’s initial days of talking, its words are not clear, the blogs are not matured; even then… it will continue in its mission. This is the first blog of its own kind. In the era of Internet, blogs are essential for a complete and healthy life of an aam junta. This is because, amount of time one spends with computer is much more than any other activities. All activities starting from social to business, travel to health, politics to education are carried out through Internet. The humane touch through social gatherings, the tender love through sweet words, the affection and closeness through eyes are missing in every body’s life. Life is becoming a machine, a business to be evaluated in terms of success and failure, a commodity to sell or buy.

How to live then? Where to express one’s views? With whom to share?… the big questions!!!!!!!? very simple, open up your mouth, express your feelings, share your views… through blogs; through which you can reach the hearts of others.

Learn to live and let live…

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