Right to Information
Replies to RTI queries have to follow a specific format in Maharashtra
The Maharashtra Government has issued a notification last fortnight to follow clear norms for giving RTI replies. This follows DoPT’s general guidelines, issued in October 2015, to discipline PIOs who give evasive replies to RTI queries
Public Information Officers (PIOs) in Maharashtra will be required to provide comprehensive replies to right to information (RTI) applicants. In a notification issued by the General Administration Department (GAD), on 19 December 2015, the Maharashtra government has specified a general format for reply, thus a taking a step forward in citizen-friendly use of the RTI Act.
In a clear snub to the PIOs, who act in a high-handed fashion, the circular also makes it mandatory for them to provide certified copies to the applicants, if so requested, to give reference of the section under which the information is denied as well as full details of the Appellate Authority’s contacts, so that the applicant can pursue his application, more effectively and easily.
The circular states, “Various Public Authorities provide information to applicants requisitioning information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 in various forms. Since the nature of information differs and since it is not possible for the Public Authorities to prepare a prescribed form, a circular clarifying what the replies should contain has been issued by the Central Government vide Circular No. 10/1/2013-IR Date 6.10.2015, which was required to be brought to the notice of everybody, concerned. Hence, this notification.”
It may be recalled that, the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), in a letter dated 6 October 2015, sent to Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories (UTs)  had said, “It has been observed that different public authorities provide information to RTI applicants in different formats. Though there cannot be a standard format for providing information, guidelines have been provided.” (Read: PIOs can no more give wishy-washy replies under RTI )
The circular issued by Maharashtra government states the following points, which need to be kept in mind by the PIO, while replying to the applicant:
  1. The number and date of the RTI Application received under the Act along with the date of receipt of the application by the public authority concerned.
  2. Name, designation, address, official telephone number and e-mail of the PIO  concerned.
  3. In case the information requisition is denied, the detailed reasons for denial of the information along with the concerned section of the RTI Act.
  4. In case of transfer of the RTI application to other public authority under section 6 (3) of the RTI Act, detailed information of the public authority to which the application is to be transferred.
  5. Name, designation, address, official telephone number and e-mail of the Appellate Authority should be mentioned first while responding to the RTI application under the RTI Act and ‘The first appeal be filed within 30 days from the date of receipt of the letter of the PIO’ should be categorically mentioned in the last paragraph.
  6. While corresponding under the RTI, all PIOs and First Appellate Authority (FAA) must clearly mention their name, designation and department under their signature.
  7. In case the applicant has requisitioned attested information under the Right To Information Act, 2005, the Public Information Officer concerned must attest the information and make a mention to that effect on the information while providing the information. In case the number of documents/ records being provided is too large, his subordinate gazatted officer may attest the information if required. The mention about attestion be made as following.
  8. All Heads of Department in Mantralaya should bring the provisions of the said circular to the notice of the Heads of Departments, Public Authorities and all those concerned subordinate to them and notify them to act accordingly.
  9. The circular has been made available on the website of the Maharashtra Government www.maharashtra.gov.in 
(Vinita Deshmukh  is consulting editor of Moneylife, and also 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”.)



Meenal Mamdani

10 months ago

All of us are indebted to Vinita Deshmukh for being vigilant and proactive about RTI in Maharashtra.

Without her constant monitoring, I doubt if the Maharashtra govt would have been so forthcoming.

I remember her holding sessions with budding RTI activists to train and guide them in the procedure of asking for information under RTI. I hope she continues to do so in the coming years too.

Here is wishing her and her team a successful New Year.

E-tailers log out smart buyers from costly retailers
Bengaluru : Technology-driven e-tailers from the virtual world are giving a run for the money to retailers in the real world, as they lure away smart buyers with lower prices, heavy discounts and door-step delivery.
What began as a trickle two-three years ago has turned into a tide, as is evident from the phenomenal growth of e-tail business in 2015, especially in consumer and electronic goods, durables, appliances, fashion, travel, food and what have you.
"This year (2015) has been the year of digital consumers, as more offline buyers shifted to online shopping for benefits and advantages e-commerce offers," Ankit Nagori, leading e-tailer Flipkart's chief business officer, told IANS here.
With faster internet access through broadband and Wi-Fi (wirless fidelity) and increasing use of smartphones and other handheld devices like tablets and i-Pads, browsing e-commerce web sites and placing orders have become a growing trend in cities and towns across the country.
"Internet penetration through mobiles and access to a variety of brands and products at affordable prices has made 2015 a year of e-commerce, with electronics and mobiles emerging as top performers," Nagori asserted.
According to a survey (FlipTrends2015) Flipkart conducted from January 1-December 14, Delhi NCR (National Capital Region), emerged as the most online shopping-savvy area, followed by Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.
"E-commerce business has grown to $23 billion in 2015 from $13.6 billion in 2014, registering a whopping 70 percent annual growth, with e-tail contributing $12 billion this year as against $4.5 billion last year in gross merchandise value," Rajat Wahi, partner and head, consumer markets, KPMG in India told IANS.
Among tier-1 cities, Pune emerged on top followed by Coimbatore, Ahmedabad and Lucknow. Bhubaneswar is the only city from the eastern region to figure in the study.
Mangaluru in Karnataka emerged the top tier-two city of digital shoppers, followed by Mysuru, while hill town Dehradun in Uttarakhand came third, with Salem in Tamil Nadu and Guntur in Andhra Pradesh closely behind.
"The e-tail space is dominated by consumers between the 25-34 years age group. More than half of them are office goers, followed by students," the survey noted, adding that 69 percent of them were males.
Changes in lifestyle and shopping choices saw buyers preferring online channels over physical channels to save time and seek a wider range of variety.
"E-commerce has seen unprecedented growth in 2015, aided by rising online consumers, affordable smart-phones and improvements in network infrastructure," PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) India partner Sandeep Ladda told IANS from Delhi.
Though diverse factors are fuelling e-commerce growth, huge price difference on products or goods such as groceries, fruits and vegetables offered online vis-a-vis retail sellers offline, is drawing even well-paid buyers to them, as they don't want to be short-changed of their hard-earned money.
"Just as there is 50-100 percent difference in prices of retail and wholesale markets, there is a similar gap in prices at which we are buying online from home or office and saving a lot of time and energy," Murali Krishna, 36, a marketing executive in consumer brands, told IANS here.
Apart from items of daily consumption being just a click away, access to thousands of products or goods across categories is making smart buyers bargain for best price by interacting with rival e-tailers through e-mail, SMS and chat sessions.
"As we are a working couple with school-going kids in a gridlocked city (Bengaluru), we buy most of our daily needs online, as they are delivered at home at a specified time, with option to return or reject if not satisfied of their quality," Sangeeta Kulkarni, a techie with a global software major, told IANS.
Apart from traditional marketplaces, newer business segments such as hyper-local, food-delivery, classifieds, real estate, grocery and healthcare also went online, with many becoming popular and attracting attention of investors.
"Multiple channels for shopping emerged, as traditional retailers moved from an offline model to an omni-channel format," Ladda pointed out.
The year also saw a shift of e-tailers from discounting strategies to re-sizing or re-aligning their businesses, as investors focus on returns.
"As one of the fastest growing segments, e-tail has evolved, but it is yet to mature to compete with its offline counterpart (retail). From deep-discounting, e-tailers are focusing on growth and return on investments," Wahi added.
E-tailers like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon are also focusing on improving consumer retention and frequency through personalised offerings and creating offline touch points.
"The year saw the rise and impact of mobile shopping, disrupting conventional business models, with consumers shopping through smart-phones and many e-tailers going the app-only mode to conduct their business," Lidda observed.
As per the revised FDI policy, single brand retailers having foreign investment can engage in e-commerce activities without government approval.
"Many e-commerce firms have changed their focus to profitability as raising capital becomes difficult. Earlier, to build a customer base, they offered deep discounts and spent huge amounts on marketing," Ladda added.
* E-tailers outsmart retailers with lower prices, discounts & door delivery
* More offline buyers shift to online shopping for benefits & advantages
* Online shopping became trend on faster internet access & mobility
* Delhi-NCR most online shopping savvy city-region in the country
* E-commerce grows 70 percent annually with e-tail chipping in most
* Consumers of 25-34 years age group dominate e-tail space
* Online channel preferred over offline to save time and make better choice
* Huge price difference makes even the well-off go on online spree
* Office-goers and working couples find e-tailing suitable for daily needs
* E-tailers shift focus on growth and returns from discounts and freebies
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article. 


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