Sunday, 27 March 2016

suo moto disclosure-feedback

date: Sun, Mar 27, 2016 at 7:47 PM
subject: suo moto disclosure-feedback

1. Refer DoPT Circular No F.No.1/34/2013-IR dated 16 Mar 2016.

2. I must first of all place on record the fact that this is a fraud being perpetrated on the citizens. The simple reason is that the only public authority that has complied with Sec 4(1)(b) is the Central Information Commission. Not even the state information commissions have complied with it as mandated in the Act! Since the CIC has done it, there is no substance in the argument by other public authorities that Sec 4(1)(b) lacks clarity!

3. It is evident that the DoPT is again trying to pull wool over the eyes of their political bosses by pretending to do something about RTI and transparency. We have seen how they have responded to disclosing the file notings. Worse, they have themselves issued an OM- No F 10/2/2008-IR dated 24 Sep 2010- blatantly subverting the law! The treachery of the DoPT is compounded by the fact that they have even quoted the CIC as having approved their decision to subvert Sec 6(3) of the RTI Act! A direction by the CIC to provide the relevant file notings/minutes of consultations is yet to be complied with by this treacherous dept!

4. The circular states that an expert committee of two former information commissioners had submitted a report which has been accepted by the govt on 29/6/15. A N Tiwari and M M Ansari may have been information commissioners in the CIC but to accept them as experts would be questioning the intelligence of the citizens. Provide me copies of the last 5 decisions of both these  commissioners and I shall accept them as experts if those decisions are flawless! We have on record even the decision of the full bench of the CIC giving a woefully incomplete correct decision in the matter of Subhas Agarwal's famous judges assets case! Anybody who has even basic knowledge of the law cannot deny that the office of the CJI is a public authority and the then CJI, K G Balakrishanan, as the custodian of the information sought had illegally denied it. It was necessary, as per law, to impose the mandated penalty @ Rs 250- per day of delay, on K G Balakrishnan. Just directing him to provide the info sought was woefully short of the requirement, as per law! Further, I have posted the details of the best order of an information commissioner that I have ever received at but even there Ms Annapurna Dixit, in her adjunct, dated 16/06/2009 to her order had calculated only the days from her 1st order till the adjunct was issued, for calculating the penalty, which was again whimsical and unlawful! And then there are my blogs at and calling for removing the 1st CIC- Wajahat Habibullah- of CIC and prosecuting Vijay Sharma another CIC of CIC exposing their obvious incompetence/treachery! Also, there is the case of Shailesh Gandhi, probably the only RTI activist to be appointed as an IC anywhere in India. My blog 'RTI Act-Shailesh Gandhi and Schopenhauer's Law of Entropy ' at shows how the treacherous system can make traitors of otherwise good citizens!

5. Incidentally the report submitted by the so called expert committee and the Jt Secy of DoPT are not available at the web site of DoPT. Today while looking for these documents I could find one other report-DoPT file reference 1/6/2011-IR dated 1/6/2011. Interestingly, there were one member each from NCPRI, Delhi, IT for Change, Bangalore, MAGP, Gujrat, JOSH, New Delhi and SNS, New Delhi to be part of the task force! In the event, 2 members had participated from NCPRI and SNS and one each from the rest! It would be better if the DoPT acknowledged that India existed beyond Delhi and NGOs working in the field of RTI are not only NCPRI and those situated in Delhi! I would be glad to know what NCPRI and these Delhi based NGOs have done about the subversive DoPT OM quoted at para 2 above.

6. To cut to the present requirement of responding to the issues raised in the Annexure to F. No. 1/34/2013-IR dated 16 Mar 2016.

6.1. The rule on consultations says that any problem can be made insolvable in enought discussions are held on it. Hence the consultative committees are a serious no-no! The thumb rule  could be that if a bit of information has been sought by three people or affects 3 or more people it should be put on the web site.

6,2. On IFCs, I am reminded of the Justice K T Thomas Commission on Police Reforms in Kerala and one of its suggestions was to have women police officers (yes, in kerala a constable is a Civil Police Officer, a Head Constable is a Senior CPO!) manning reception desks in police stations. I do not know about other recommendations but this is one recommendation that has been implemented and these 'receptionists' even have a receipt book to provide receipts to the public approaching them with complaints. But the sore point is that they will tell you to wait till the SHO comes and whets the complaint before providing you a receipt! So IFCs are ok but the crunch is in the information available with the IFC!

6.3. Committee of PIOs and FAAs? See para 5.1.

6.4. Nodal officer responsible for categorising and organising info? Again, not workable! As far as the suo moto disclosable info is concerned, it should be available in both soft and hard formats. Any visitor to IFC should be able to go through these and seek copies on the spot and get the required copies on the spot. As far as the rest of the info is concerned all public/public fund related info should be uploaded within 24 hours and should be retrievable using key words, subject, dept/public authority name, date. If an update over rides or cancels a previous info then the over ridden/cancelled info must be available in a separate site meant for such info.

6.5. The time of update is important and should be indicated with the info updated.

6.6. Transparency audit should be undertaken with the participation of activists in this field. The activists should be both from RTI field and subject field.

7. Additional issues that need to be addressed:

7.1. No bureaucrat should be appointed as ICs due to vested interests.

7.2. The status and compensation payble to an IC should be that of munsif in the judiciary. The task of an IC is simpler than that of a munsif.

7.3. The ICs who do not impose the penalty mandated at Sec 20 should be prosecuted under Sec 219 of the IPC.

7.4. The FAAs who do not correct errors of the PIO should be prosecuted under Sec 217/ 218 of the IPC.

7.5. The SICs should be distributed in district headquarters and physically located there to look after the complaints/appeals from the district/cluster of districts. The Central ICs should be similarly located centrally in all states/cluster of states.

7.6. The present system of calling for statements from PIOs/FAAs and holding hearings should be done away with. The IC should be able to take a decision merely from the records submitted with the complaint /appeal. If there has been lapse on the part of the PIO he is 'required to give an opportunity of being heard before imposing the penalty'. The hearing need not be physical and can be through affidavits also. In case there is scope for condoning the lapse then that fact, along with details, has to be communicated to the complainant/appellant for his comments before the final decision is taken by the IC!

8. As on date, the fact is that the RTI Act is as good as murdered. Activists like me use it with the explicit purpose of exposing atleast three idiots/traitors amoung public servants- the PIO, the FAA (and the head of the public authority where the head is not the FAA) and the IC, when the information sought is not received! And for the limited purpose of the RTI Act, an idiot is one who does not know the job he is being paid to do and a traitor is one who knows it but still wouldn't do it!

Yours truly,

P M Ravindran