Whereas in the matter of Principles of Natural Justice, and the field of “Justice Delivery” the saying “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” is honestly accepted, it seems that there is no weightage to such proverb in the Right to Information Act, 2005. In fact, there is no guarantee about supply of “information” within particular span of period. Even, there is also no guarantee as to whether the applicant’s purpose will be served on belated receipt of such “information” sought by the “applicant”, because, there is so much paucity in the Act itself to consume more and more period.

DEFECTS IN THE ROLE OF THE PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER (PIO):

The PIOs are to receive all the “applications” made under Section 6(1) of the Act and to effect the supply of the “information” sought by the “applicantswithin 30 days from the date of receipt of such applications as per Section 6(1) of the Act, subject to the exemptions under Sections 8, 9, 10 of the Act. If the “information” sought by the “applicants” is relating to “Third Party” the PIOs may take extra 15 days to adhere the procedure laid under Section 11 of the Act. When the “information” sought by the “applicant” is partly available in PIO’s division/department, it is to be supplied initially, and for the rest of the information, the application or part of the application must be transferred to other PIO under Section 6(3) of the Act.

If the PIOs (a) refuse to receive the applications, or (b) simply (intentionally) redirects the postal covers containing applications to some other PIO, without taking delivery, or (c) straightaway transferring the application to some other PIO under Section 6(3) of the Act, without supplying the information available in his division/department or (d) fails to effect the supply of the “information”, or (e) Ignores to respond the applications/applicants, or (f) Supply the fabricated or wrong “information”, or (g) destroying the information which is subject of the request, such actions will stand to attract the imposition of penalty under Section 20 of the Act. However, since SIC/CIC is alone competent to impose penal actions on PIOs, the very particular applicants have to pass through the procedures of First & Second Appeals before the First & Second Appellate Authorities, to ensure the penalty imposition on trouble causing PIOs or to receive the information sought.

DEFECTS IN THE ROLE OF THE FIRST APPELLATE AUTHORITY (FAA):

By the time First Appellate Authority (FAA) disposes the appeal of the Appellant/Applicant, the valuable period of “Six Months” will be elapsed. Most of the complaints against the First Appellate Authority (FAA) reveal that since the First Appellate Authority (FAA) being in the same Division/Department, that too, being an Officer Senior in Rank to the PIO, is attempt to protect the subordinate-official (i.e., PIO). In fact, this has been actually happening just as “the birds of the same feathers will flock together”.

Further, as per Subsection (5) of Section 19 of the RTI Act, 2005, the obligation to prove that “the denial of a request was justified” is rest on PIO denying the request, there may not be any necessity to issue a “Notice of Hearing of Appeal” to the “Appellant”. Yet, the First Appellate Authorities (FAA) are frequently attempting intentionally to waste a considerable period of “15 more days” in providing opportunity of hearing to the Appellants.

DEFECTS IN THE ROLE OF THE SECOND APPELLATE AUTHORITY (SAA):

While submitting the Second Appeal before the Second Appellate Authority (SAA) a considerable period of about “Nine Months” will be over, and in accepting the admission of the Second Appeal the SIC/CIC is further wasting a period of “two to three months” and for taking a decision on the Second Appeal there is no time limit stipulation, thus it may take even a year or two.

Further, when the PIO hails from a division of the Income Tax Department, the CIC is putting PIO-CBDT as respondent, which is otherwise ensuring support to the PIO. The ultimate sufferer will be the Applicant/Appellant under Right to Information Act.

WHAT MEASURES ARE TO BE TAKEN FOR SPEEDIER JUSTICE UNDER RTI ACT?

To ensure speedier Justice under Right to Information Act, the following measures/amendments are needed:

  • The PIOs must mention the reasons in the Orders to be passed for the consumed time, even when such order is within the allowable time of 30 days.
  • The transfer of application or part thereof must be restricted to “once” only and no onward transfers, any further, should be allowed. It would be much better if it is mandated to supply the “Information” by the firstly addressed PIO itself, within 30 days of receipt of request for information.
  • The First Appellate Authorities (FAAs) are to be empowered to take suitable action or imposing penalty on PIOs, and at the same time, the First Appellate Authorities (FAAs) are also made responsible if they support PIOs or attempt to protect the PIOs in any manner. Or, abolish the institution of the First Appellate Authorities (FAAs).
  • The SIC/CIC should only consider the respondent PIO as an independent person. The PIO should not be allowed to avail the support from his/her Department/Ministry or Legal Counsel of the Department/Ministry, in appeal related matters.
  • The Admission & Disposal of Second Appeals should be done within a time limit of Two Months or Sixty Days

Unless the above measures are initiated, the noble thought of providing non-corruptive & transparent governance with the aid of the “Right to Information Law” may not yield sweet fruits to the Citizens.

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Category : Corporate Law (4172)
Type : Articles (18224)
Tags : RTI (160) rti act (168) Syed Mahaboob Peer (21)

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