Rights given by Maharashtra Chief SIC to RTI Appellants
July 25, 2009
Dear People of Maharashtra,
Here is a list of your Rights in the words of Maharashtra Chief Information Commissioner Dr Suresh Joshi. Print it out, circulate it and boldly ask for these rights until they become widely accepted by SICs, as well as PIOs and FAAs in all public authorities in our proud State:
1)IF PIO FLOUTS SIC'S ORDER TO PROVIDE INFO, HE WILL BE SERVED SHOW-CAUSE NOTICE. SO RETURN TO SIC AND INSIST ON PENALTY & DISCIPLINARY ACTION, EVEN IN OLD CASES. THERE IS NO TIME-BAR. Read 21st March '09 DNA News item , where Dr Joshi elaborately stated this before a press reporter. He first said this at a meeting with activists on 19th March. (Till now, SICs have not taken further responsibility after passing such fruitless orders. "Go to High Court," they say when frustrated appellants complain that PIOs are still not giving them info.)
2)INSIST ON NEGATIVE REMARKS IN PIO'S ANNUAL CONFIDENTIAL REPORT (ACR) & SERVICE RECORD. "If any disciplinary action has been taken against a PIO, or some punishment has been awarded in a departmental enquiry, this should be noted in the Confidential Report and Service Record," Dr Joshi said in his letter on 25th February '09 to Chief Secretary Johny Joseph (page 4, point 9, last sentence.)The Marathi letter was translated into English.
3)INSIST ON FAA PASSING ORDERS RECOMMENDING ACTION AGAINST PIO. ALSO INSIST ON HIS FORWARDING COPY TO SIC. Dr Joshi says in his letter (page 4, point 9, second-last sentence), "If PIO is at fault or has been negligent, then FAA should note the same in his order, and he must forward a copy to the Commission, recommending action against the PIO. In this way, every PIO's work vis-a-vis every RTI application will be evaluated and, effectiveness of the Act will be enhanced." This is again stressed in point 11, where Dr Joshi says, "In case FAA finds PIO at fault in discharging his duties, then in that regard, the appellant's original RTI application, his appeal, PIO's statement and FAA's say and recommendations, and his decision, should all be sent to the Commission."
4)INSIST ON POINT-BY-POINT REASONS WITH SUB-SECTIONS OF RTI ACT FOR DENIAL OF INFORMATION. Dr Joshi says on page 5, point 15, "Where, in the opinion of the PIO, any of the 'information' requested does not fall within the ambit of definition of information, PIO should give detailed reasons for the same. If PIO decides to refuse any of the information requested, then he must clearly specify which sub-section of section 8 or 9 the information is denied."Further, Dr Joshi says on page 5, point 14, "If a particular information is not available, then the applicant must be clearly informed as to information pertaining to which point is not available. If the information required by the applicant is voluminous, then the applicant must definitely be invited for a discussion. Then, through discussion and mutual understanding, and BY ALLOWING THE APPLICANT COMPLETE INSPECTION OF ALL THE DOCUMENTS, efforts should be made to give him information that relates to his application."
5)ASK FOR PIO'S DETAILED JUSTIFICATION BEFORE FIRST APPEAL HEARING. Dr Joshi says on page 4, point 10, "While hearing First Appeal, if PIO has not provided the information, his detailed explanation should be taken note of. If possible, PIO's explanation in this regard must be conveyed to Appellant three days before the First Appeal Hearing. If this was not possible or if the appellant says that he has not received it, then it should definitely be provided to the appellant at the time of the hearing. The appellant must be given sufficient opportunity to study this explanation, to enable him to properly put forward his arguments."
6)APPROACH HEAD OF PUBLIC AUTHORITY IF PIO & FAA SAY THAT THEY ARE UNABLE TO PROVIDE INFO DUE TO ORGANIZATIONAL REASONS. Dr Joshi says on page 4,point 12, "If PIO and FAA are coming across any obstacles in performing their duties in their department, then the head of the department should make efforts to remove these obstacles."
7)YOU ARE ENTITLED TO A HEARING FROM FAA, UNLESS HE COMPLETELY UPHOLDS YOUR GROUNDS OF APPEAL AND DIRECTS PIO TO GIVE INFO. Dr Joshi says in page 6, point 17, "It is necessary for FAA to give a hearing to the appellant. If FAA decides to accept all the points of the appellant, then he need not be called for a hearing. All the FAAs should be made aware that every appellant must be called for a hearing."
8)INSIST ON STRICTLY REASONED ORDERS FROM STATE INFORMATION COMMISSIONERS. Dr Joshi says on page 3, point 8, "The reason for writing all this in detail is that henceforth, it will be considered very important that the PIO should be strictly in accordance with law in giving information. Also, this is to clarify that apart from the PIO, whosoever is required to assist the PIO for giving information can also be prosecuted under this law." He further stresses on page 6, point 18: "All the officers must be informed that the Information Commission is going to adopt a very strict adherence to the rules as regards the time-limits for providing the information and the quality of information provided."
Take a printout of this and use the points to support your arguments with PIOs, FAAs and SICs. Dr Suresh Joshi has made many good promises to the people of Maharashtra. It is now time for all of us to work together to make him and other SICs of Maharashtra fulfill these promises!
1) Download DNA news item: http://tinyurl.com/Suresh-Joshi-1
2) Download SCIC Dr Suresh Joshi's Marathi Letter to Chief Secretary Johny Joseph: http://tinyurl.com/Suresh-Joshi-Johny2
3) Download English translation of this letter: http://tinyurl.com/Suresh-Joshi-Johny-joseph3
4) Download word file of this LIST OF RIGHTS for easy printing and forwarding: http://tinyurl.com/suresh-joshi-johny-joseph4