Citizens' Issues
CBI nabs ordnance factory official for graft
An additional general manager of the Ordnance Factory in Ambernath town has been arrested for corruption, a CBI official said here on Thursday.
 
Following a complaint that the official was demanding a bribe of Rs.25,000 for clearing the bills of a labour contractor, the CBI registered a complaint and set a trap.
 
The official was nabbed by CBI sleuths while demanding and accepting an amount of Rs.20,000 as the first instalment from the complainant.
 
Searches were carried out at the office and residence of the accused, leading to recovery of documents pertaining to the case and investments in various movable and immovable assets.

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Now, PIOs may not be able to send flimsy replies under RTI
A circular of 17th March 2015 issued by the Department of Personnel & Training-DoPT aims to make Public Information Officers accountable for their replies under the RTI
 
Most users of the Right to Information (RTI) Act invariably face the problem of Public Information Officers (PIOs) sending inadequate and sloppy replies or a standard tersely formatted reply. Now, the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT)’s circular issued on 17 March 2015 aims to make PIOs accountable by asking them to provide adequate details in their replies.
 
A Committee comprising representatives of DoPT, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Central Information Commission (CIC), recommended elaborate reasoning for denying information by quoting specific sections from the RTI Act for such denial; asking them to providing specific information of their own contacts (PIO’s); comprehensive details of the First Appellate Authorities (FAAs) and making it mandatory for PIOs to endorse every document that they provide to the applicant.
 
The DoPT has stated that different PIOs provide information to RTI applicants in different formats. Though there cannot be a standard format for providing information, the committee has recommended the reply should essentially contain the following information:
 
The name, designation, official telephone number and email ID of the PIO or Central PIO (CPIO).
In case the information requested for is denied, detailed reasons for denial quoting the relevant sections of the RTI Act should be clearly mentioned.
In case the information pertains to any other pubic authority and the application is transferred under Section 6(3) of the RTI Act, details of the public authority to whom the application is transferred should be given.
In the concluding para of the reply, it should be clearly mentioned that the first appeal if any, against the reply of the CPIO may made to the FAA within 30 days from receipt of reply of CPIO.
The name, designation, address, official telephone number and email ID of the FAA should also be clearly mentioned
In addition, wherever the applicant has requested for ‘certified copies’ of the documents on records, the CPIO should endorse on the document `True copy of the document/ record’, sign the document with date above a seal containing name of the officer, CPIO (in place of designation) and name of public authority
 
The DoPT has sought suggestions from the public and the deadline is 16 April 2015. The circular states, “It has been decided to invite views and suggestions from the citizens on the draft guidelines. The views/ suggestions, preferably not exceeding more than one page, may be sent latest by 16th April through email only to RK Girdhar, US (RTI), North Block at email id [email protected] (Sandeep Jain, Director, (IR), 011 23092755.”
 
RTI activist Commodore Lokesh K Batra (Retd) has welcomed the format and also submitted his suggestions. He said, in the recommendations over information of a different public authority (in case the applicant has sent it to the wrong public authority), it should be added that “as far as possible, CPIO transferring application to another CPIO under Section 6(3) should also include the Email ID and Phone number of the CPIO to whom the application is being transferred. This is in keeping with government vision of Digital India.”
 
Citizens should take this opportunity to make suggestions within the 16th April deadline.
 
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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COMMENTS

Rajesh Kothari

2 years ago

Babus have mastered the art of giving even tangential replies:

For Example:

1. RTI application to Income Tax dept for Interest on Income Tax refund query was replied by different PIO i.e., officer other than the one who was supposed to answe.

And he referred to a judgement of a case related to maps of development plan of Delhi, saying information can't be provided in the format applicant has requested viz., interest calculation of income tax refund. So, applicant should make visit the office and go through the files and find the details himself. He conveniently forgot that apart from interest query, there were ten more queries which PIO could have answered.

2. Once PIO did not give reply. Upon appeal First Appellate Authority (FAA) ordered RTI applicant to make fresh application to the officer (who was PIO) and officer was asked to give reply to this fresh application. That means fresh application would be outside the purview of RTI Act. How ingenious!

Mr Jitendra

2 years ago

Dear Madam, The government website http://pgportal.gov.in is also involved in giving very short or flimsy replies to any grievance that is filed. You write a grievance of two or three para giving details of the problem and in return we get a reply of six to ten words which are irrelevant. Name, designation and email and phone of the official who replied are not displayed. The grievance gets closed without taking your feedback. If you are unhappy you raise another grievance and the fun continues. I was expecting things will improve in new NDA government but they have not.

SC allows finalisation of telecom spectrum bids
The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the government to finalise the auction of telecom spectrum and announce the winners, but with a caveat.
 
The finalisation of the results will be subject to the outcome of the cases being heard by the apex court.
 
The telecom auction concluded on Wednesday after 19 days, with a total bid commitment of nearly Rs.110,000 crores from the eight players in the fray.
 
Recording submissions by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and the rival counsel including P. Chidambaram appearing for mobile operators, the apex court bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant in their order said: "We are inclined to modify our order and allow the Union of India to finalise auction and proceed further."
 
All the successful bidders shall be intimated that the auction will be finalised subject to the outcome of the hearing of matter by the court, the court said in its order. 
 
As the court appeared to relax its earlier order of February 26 restraining the government from finalising the bids, Chidambaram told the court that it was like pushing the envelope, inch by inch, towards their goal.
 
At the outset of the hearing, Rohatgi told the court that the auction was a tremendous success.
 
Seeking the modification of the February 26 order, Rohatgi told the court that the government could then persuade the successful bidders to make the initial payment which is Rs.28,000 crores and has already been factored into the budget.

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